Learn about organic farming - My experience with The WWOOF Movement
|Date:||14 April 2021|
The World Wide Opportunity on Organic Farms is a network of associations all around the world that enables you to experience a farmer’s daily life for a certain period of time. It is a social network that exists in most countries of the world, and allows for farmers and people curious about rural life to meet. It all began in England in 1971, when Sue Coppard, working as a secretary in London had the idea to support organic farms while giving people from urban areas access to the countryside. According to the website of the association, there are now more than 100.000 WWOOFers and 12.000 hosts registered in 130 countries. A federation, the FoWO, was created in 2012 to unify all the national groups.
When joining the national association of your choice for a small fee per year (approximately €50, depending on the country), you are able to contact farmers registered on the platform to visit them. The deal is that you work five hours per day on the farm and, in exchange, the farmer provides you with a roof and food. For some people, it is a very affordable way of agritourism, and for others, it allows you to really learn how to farm for a possible future career change. Whatever your goals may be, having an experience in an organic farm will raise your awareness about the food system and broaden your horizons.
I personally had a great farming experience in France, in a region called Le Perche, in the area of Le Mans. There, a farmer named Gilles owns a huge old farm where he makes cider and jelly out of biological apples. He also breeds sheep essentially for their meat, as the wool has very small value. As a Parisian guy, I had no experience in working on a farm before I came there. I was expecting very hard working and physically challenging days. However, it actually was not as hard as I expected it to be! Instead, the work was pleasant and satisfying. The workload is not that big when you have an operational farm that has been running for years. Breeding and processing products like cider also has an advantage over market gardening, since fruits or vegetables cannot be stored for too long. For me, the two weeks I spent with Gilles were an opportunity to slow down, to be confronted with all the work behind every meal I eat and that living a more simple life is a serious key to find happiness. I also realized that living outside brings me joy and serenity. It was an enriching as well as affordable holiday that took me away from my everyday life.
I can only advise you to try this little sustainable adventure. Why not this summer, if the pandemic allows us to take a break!
Here are some useful links:
Maxence is a 23-year-old law student from France. After studying Public Economic Law in Paris, he started the master LLM Energy and Climate Law at the RUG. He’d like to work as a policy officer aimed at decarbonizing the energy sector. He’s also interested in the permaculture philosophy applied to farming.