WWOOF came into being in Autumn 1971, in England, when a London secretary, Sue Coppard, recognised the need to provide access to the countryside for people like herself who did not otherwise have the means or the opportunity, and who were keen to support the organic movement . Her idea started with a trial working weekend, which she arranged at a bio - dynamic farm in Sussex through a contact in the Soil Association. The weekend was a great success and things gathered momentum very quickly. Soon many more organic farmers and smallholders were willing to take people keen to work on this basis. It seemed that many people were just desperate to get into the countryside. Hosts and workers made new friends and enjoyed the experience of working in common in an exchange of assistance and knowledge.
WWOOF developed very quickly. To this day it connects eager volunteers, passes feedback from participators and encourages members to offer their help.
Now there are autonomous WWOOF organisations in many countries who all have their own individual ways of organising themselves but basically have similar membership charges, publish a host list and newsletters. Hosts in countries without a national group are listed by WWOOF Independents which is run in conjunction with WWOOF UK. WWOOF Independents' list is available via the internet or a book.
In 2000 the first International WWOOF conference was held with representatives from 15 countries. It was agreed to form the International WWOOF Association to try and bring about guidelines as to what is meant by being a WWOOFer, a WWOOF host and to go WWOOFing. Encouragement and support to emerging WWOOF organisations in developing countries is also an objective. In the last few years WWOOF Turkey, WWOOF Czech Republic, WWOOF Slovenia and WWOOF Mexico have all come into being.
WWOOF is also now recognised as having an important contribution to make in the wider organic world as it brings more and more people into direct contact with organic growers. Through its newsletters WWOOF organisations inform their members of organic news, views, jobs and training.
Organic farming is the primary activity hosts do, however there a sometimes variations of this. In an effort to provide access to a greater diversity of experience, some hosts practise pottery and arts, building and restoring buildings, brewing and production of foods and dealing with animals or act in eco villages, nature guide centres, centres for the environment, health and healing centres or organic restaurants.
WWOOF hosts do not expect you to know a lot about farming when you come, but they do expect you to be willing to learn and work hard, and to be able to fit in with their lifestyle.
Since the WWOOF has spread around the world it has enabled people to learn about organic cultivation and provide help when and where it is needed. In addition it is an excellent opportunity to travel and explore different cultures and lifestyles.
All contacts about other wwoof organizations ara available on www.wwoof.org