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World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF, //), or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate homestays on organic farms. As of June 2016[update], Australia with 2,600 hosts has the most host farms and enterprises, followed by New Zealand with 2,340 and United States with 2,052 hosts. The UK has 688 WWOOF hosts. While there are WWOOF hosts in 210 countries around the world, no central list or organization encompasses all WWOOF hosts. As there is no single international WWOOF membership, all recognised WWOOF country organizations strive to maintain similar standards, and work together to promote the aims of WWOOF.
WWOOF aims to provide volunteers (often called "WWOOFers" or "woofers", //) with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods, to help the organic movement; and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country. WWOOF volunteers generally do not receive money in exchange for services. The host provides food, lodging, and opportunities to learn, in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening activities.
The duration of the visit can range from a few days to years. Workdays average five to six hours, and participants interact with WWOOFers from other countries. WWOOF farms include private gardens through smallholdings, allotments, and commercial farms. Farms become WWOOF hosts by enlisting with their national organization. In countries with no WWOOF organization, farms enlist with WWOOF Independents.
WWOOF originally stood for "Working Weekends On Organic Farms" and began in England in 1971. Sue Coppard, a woman working as a secretary in London, wanted to provide urban dwellers with access to the countryside, while supporting the organic movement. Her idea started with trial working weekends for four people at the biodynamic farm at Emerson College in Sussex.
People soon started volunteering for longer periods than just weekends, so the name was changed to Willing Workers On Organic Farms, but then the word "work" caused problems with some countries' labour laws and immigration authorities, who tended to treat WWOOFers as migrant workers and oppose foreigners competing for local jobs. (Many WWOOFers enter countries on tourist visas, which is illegal in countries such as the United States.) Both in an attempt to circumvent this and also in recognition of WWOOFing's worldwide scope, the name was changed again in 2000 to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Some WWOOF groups (such as Australia) choose to retain the older name, however.
Volunteers choose what country they would like to visit and volunteer in and contact arrange the dates and duration of their stay at selected farms. The duration of a volunteer's stay can range from days to months, but is typically one to two weeks. Volunteers can expect to work for 4–6 hours a day for a full day's food and accommodation. Volunteers could be asked to help with a variety of tasks, including: sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread baking.
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