Would you like a seasonal work experience on an organic farm in France in return for food and lodging? Try WWOOFing! WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and although it was started in 1971, some people don’t realize it’s still going strong. If you’re not afraid of hard work, practicing your broken French, and meeting new people, then WWOOFing is an excellent way for those on a tight budget to live in France for up to three months (this is the length of time an American’s tourist visa is valid; if you’re not American it could be different).
This is how it works (from the official WWOOF website):
Usually you live with your host and are expected to join in and cooperate with the day to day activities. In most countries the exchange is based on 4-6 hours help-fair exchange for a full day’s food and accommodation.
You may be asked to help with a variety of tasks like sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making.
The length of your stay at the farm is negotiated directly between you and your host. Most WWOOF visits are between one and two weeks, though some may be as short as two or three days or as long as six months.
The first step of your WWOOFing experience is to choose your destination and join the relevant WWOOF organization. As a member you will be able to access a database of farms in your chosen country and start making plans.
There’s a dedicated (bilingual) website for WWOOF France where you can get more information or sign up to participate. The video at the top of this post was made by a woman who worked in several French farms in the East and the South. There are many sites dedicated to the worldwide WWOOFing experience, be sure to read a bit about it before you sign up so you’re sure to know what it’s all about. For example:
– How to Travel and Work Around the World with WWOOF
– Tending the Farm Stand in Southern France
– WWOOFing with Aromatic Plants in the South of France
– On the Farm: WWOOFing in Dordogne, France
– WWOOFing: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Dirty
The French have a very strong connection to their land, and especially their farms, so it’s really a great way to see a side of the country and its people that tourists rarely encounter.