Expat-terns at a Glance

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

WWOOF: What to Expect

For the last few days or so, I have been working on a farm in the Czech Republic located in the hilly northern territory of the nation with a variety livestock and a local Czech family.

First as a disclaimer, I cannot guarantee what your own WWOOFing experience will be like, but I can give a little advice and insight on what it is like to live as a WWOOFer and some answers to those questions that may be rattling in your head before you undertake an endeavour such as this. If you need a reminder of what WWOOFing is, click on this link.

The old homestead (Photo credits by PintsizedPioneer)

What is it like living with a farming family?

At first, you feel like a burden. You are some random person just showing up at a family's house, asking for room and board in change for labor. But, this labor aspect, unless you get into the groove of things fast or do it well to begin with, you'll feel bad that you aren't doing you're part/ are getting in the way.

This goes into my main point. A WWOOF farm is not a host family. I didn't think it would be, but I am reminded of this everyday. Sure. You'll be close to the family, you'll eat with them, spend time with them etc. But, they are also your employers so to speak. That is the basis of your relationship and must be remembered. This is not to say that work and play are separate. You will become familiar with the people who are near you obviously, but I would err on the side of the professional when possible.

Is it hard?

It depends what you do, but overall if you are confident and work hard, you'll be fine. WWOOF hosts want to teach and learn from you. It is not a form of, "tourist slavery" like I once heard it referred to as, but a relationship that is built. Communication is key.

If you are uncomfortable or struggling with a task, it is prudent to make it known to the farmers since it is in their best interest as well to have you do the most work that can be done well. Also, play to your strengths. If you are better at cooking, ask if you can cook more, or if you are more attune to the gardening or husbandry side of things, see if there are more opportunities to do that. Be vocal; you are your own advocate. Of course, one must remember that there is the literal physical aspect of farming. It makes you ask the question, why are you there? To work? And so long as if the answer is yes, you will be fine.

How long should I stay/ what is the best amount of time to WWOOF?

Farms may have a minimum amount of time they require people to stay. For example, around two weeks is average for farms that usually cater to shorter stayers. If the farm does not have minimum days and honestly, even if it does, just do what works best for your schedule. When in doubt, talk with the farm.

I fit my WWOOFing into my backpacking schedule, but others I know have scheduled multiple farms in the span of a few weeks, wanting to stay at a variety of establishments. To each his own.

If you have any other questions, feel free to comment below. I will do my best to answer them! I cannot really think of anything else I was concerned about before WWOOFing, which probably is why I'm in my current situation ...

Honestly, I am tired. I did not think that WWOOFing would be this physically difficult. I am having my doubts in my farming abilities; I am going to talk to Alena and Hynek (the farmers). I feel I am doing poorly. It is a beautiful area, and I was excited to WWOOF, but maybe, my expectations of what it would be like here were detrimental in the long run. I am a little embarrassed to admit this. Well, there is nothing I can do but talk it out. Stay tuned. Things are sure to get more interesting.

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