Gather Magazine

Want to learn how to live sustainably for free? Become a Wwoofer

Working for a weekend or longer on an organic farm in exchange for food and board can be one of the best and most affordable ways to see the world, and a life-changing experience

Working Weekends on Organic Farms (now called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Wwoof) was founded by Sue Coppard more than 50 years ago, when her experience volunteering on a biodynamic farm in Forest Row inspired her to give up her desk job. The organisation she began has since grown to 500-plus hosts in the UK and a presence in 130 countries around the world, including such far-flung places as El Salvador, Kazakhstan and Albania. 

The concept is simple: volunteers interested in learning about ecologically sound farming, sustainable living and low-impact lifestyles can live and work on a host’s farm, often in exchange for food and board. Hosts offer hands-on experience of a diverse range of activities, including lambing, dairy farming, permaculture, off-grid living, beekeeping, conservation, floristry and much more.

Living with the land 

Organic farming and regenerative agriculture focus on looking after the soil, being part of the ecosystem and promoting food sovereignty and sustainability. It’s about connection, symbiosis and avoiding harmful practices such as using herbicides and other chemicals on the land. Organic farming is more labour-intensive and involves methods such as picking weeds and using ground cover to suppress weed growth. This means the Wwoofing model of inviting volunteers to come and work on the farm is extremely valuable for hosts. 

Why would you Wwoof?

While hosts have plenty to gain from Wwoofing, volunteers do too. It’s an exciting and immersive way to learn more about organic farming, either for the enjoyment of it or in preparation for creating your own smallholding or farm. Working on organic farms also gives a greater connection to the food we eat and the choices we make with our food shop.

But the benefits of Wwoofing go far beyond the practical side. It’s a chance to take a breath, step away from time-worn routines, contribute to a community, make new connections and gain a fresh perspective. Food and lodgings are often included, which makes it an affordable way to enjoy a working holiday while experiencing an alternative lifestyle. 

Mike Hammer is a member of Wwoof’s marketing team and has stayed on many farms over a number of years. ‘Our hosts are such quality people, some of whom have been hosts for years. Passionate is a word that’s overused, but with Wwoofing hosts it’s totally true. It’s an authentic, immersive experience where you often become friends.’

How it works 

Finding your first Wwoofing experience is simple and can be organised via the website ( Paying a membership fee of £25 gains you access to all of the Wwoofing hosts in the UK and a means through which to contact them. Once you’ve made your interest known, the host will be in touch to confirm availability and further details. The next step is to make your way to the farm on the dates agreed to meet your hosts and begin your experience. If you’re interested in working abroad, you purchase a membership for the country you’re interested in. 

Where to Wwoof in the UK 

There are a huge range of hosts available in the UK, with great variation in projects you can learn about and work on

Cultivating flowers in Cornwall 

Based on the south coast of Cornwall, Rose Valley Farm Flowers is a small market garden and farm. Their main focus is growing and selling cut flowers; however they also grow food, keep cows, chickens, sheep, rabbits and pigs. They ‘live simply and honestly and warmly invite Wwoofers to come and stay to experience this way of life, on [their] beautiful piece of land’. Wwoofers can help in the garden, cultivating flowers and with other farming projects. They also welcome people who can help with childcare and cooking and enjoy socialising together in the evenings. 

Veganic off-grid living in Kent

This small, vegan organic forest farm can be found just outside of Kent. Tree of Life Organics are off-grid, reliant on rainwater, solar and woodfuel and use no single use plastic or concrete. The farm doesn’t have farm animals or animal products and they grow perennial crops, mostly fruit and nut trees. For people looking to experience off-grid living and to learn about harvesting, weeding, scything, maintenance and care of plants this is a fantastic opportunity. You will also stay in unique accommodation, in the form of a gypsy wagon. 

Permaculture farm in Wales 

Specialising in farming using scythes and hand tools, Dyfed Permaculture Farm can be found in West Wales. Aiming at self-reliance they grow most of their fruit and vegetables. They have a small flock of Shetland sheep and Shetland cattle for wool, milk and meat. Michelle and Phil benefitted immensely from the skills they learned while volunteering and wish to offer the same to other Wwoofers. Expect to help with animals, growing and maintenance, as well as perfecting the art of scything. 

Smallholding with rescue animals in Scotland 

Kames Farm is set within the stunning mountainous landscapes of West Scotland, with a loch nearby for swimming and paddle-boating. Mary-Jane is passionate about rescuing animals and so far has horses, goats, alpacas, dogs, cats and hens on site. Wwoofers can expect to assist with vegetable growing, willow weaving, field maintenance and animal care. There are beautiful walks in the hills around the house and wonderful birdlife and sea creatures to watch. All of which can be enjoyed in the afternoons, which are free for exploring. 

Family-friendly Wwoofing 

Many hosts accept children, making for a fantastic educational activity and working family holiday. Use the filters on the host search to find your next family adventure.  

TIP First time? Commit to a week initially, then extend if you like it.

Words: Lydia Paleschi

Image credit: Rose Valley Farm Flowers

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