Woof is an acronym for World Wide Workers on Organic Farms. Also known as wwoof, woofing, farm travel, volunteer traveling, homestay, you get the general idea.
I can't even count the number of people who have asked me "How do you get these workers?" "How can I do that?" "Do they really work for free????!" "You're organic?" Ok, ok ok!
So, for starters, we live on a farm/ranch. We have 120 acres of mostly forested property that has never been "farmed" before. We have a small herd of llamas, a small flock of goats (a flock right?), and a small bundle of bunnies (I don't know what you call a group of bunnies) and miscellaneous chicken. We are not certified organic, I would say we are probably more "granola" than organic, meaning we have a healthy lifestyle, we strive towards sustainable living, we love the color green, we eat locally grown food as much as possible, and we love bugs.
Having said all that, we also love to share our love for nature and healthy living with friends and family. When I first heard of wwoof canada, I knew it would be a perfect match for our farm and lifestyle, which leads me to the next step, becoming a farm host. Wwoof Canada has a lovely, user friendly website here:
If you have a farm and you support the organic industry, follow the steps on the wwoof host site, pay $50 yearly registration fee, and Da Da! Become a WWOOF Farm Host! It's as easy as that!
Well, actually, it's not quite that easy cause the next step is getting woofers to come to your farm. I have a lovely little write up describing our highly desirable farm location that you can find here and you can also find "New Woof host guidelines" and "the ideal woof host/woofer" indicating what a woofer is expected to do and what a host is expected to provide:
The above link is my write-up that woofers read and if they are interested in woofing. If they have paid their fee and got their woofer #, there is also contact information, email, phone #, address. Most woofers email me saying they are interested and do I have room? I respond to about 3 email a week. Last year I had 7 woofers stay with us for varying lengths of time. If you do the math, that's a whole lot of emailing and not a whole lot of turn-out. I find that many woofers end up changing their plans along the way, or get burnt out and go home before finishing their trip. Lots of woofers contact many hosts before committing to one, and very few woofers see a description and book ticket the next day. I have had woofers who phoned me, space was available, and they showed up the next week. I've also had woofers who planned months in advance. (Side note: woofers, plan to take breaks between farms so you don't get burnt out!)
The last and probably most difficult step in becoming a woof host is flexibility and honesty. We are flexible enough to have rarely turned a short notice woofer away. I'm still learning how to be completely honest about communicating possible difficulties a woofer might face when staying at your farm, such as renovations in the only bathroom, noisy little kids in your face 24/7, small living quarters, and cold weather. Sometimes it's hard to see how your lifestyle might be difficult or uncomfortable for someone else. Domestic problems, illness, transition periods, inappropriate accomodation, and lack of work are all good reasons to NOT have woofers. I have turned woofers away in the past for all of the above reasons.
Sometimes it is challenging for me as an individual to be a host cause I am accountable to keep it together and create a positive, uplifting environment for my woofers. I like having that accountability and that challenge. My kids love having woofers around to play with and boss around (or pretend to) Many of my woofers have said that the best things about staying here was the kids.
This is a general overview of being a woof host. If anyone has anymore questions about becoming a woof host or a woofer, please feel free to contact me cause of course I am happy to answer questions. In fact, I might talk your ear off.
(photos: looking out the front door, woofer summer accomodation bus, bus interior, humble *dumpy* home improving steadily, shared bathroom very very small)