Every day, thousands of people go hungry; from the urban streets of North America to rural and remote places in Africa, Asia, and Europe. All around the world, food shortages have become a pandemic. Is it because the Earth's resources have been used up? The answer is no. The resources of the Earth have been misused and the effects of its mismanagement are being felt in the form of drought, disease, and food shortage. Now, more than ever, there is a real need for agriculture volunteer program participants.
WWOOF, I'm not making dog noises here, is an acronym that stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. This is more than a little volunteering. It is a worldwide organization that helps facilitate the connection between organic farms that need volunteers and those who would like to help in the overall functioning of an organic farm. The assistance agriculture volunteers provide varies. Some help run small family owned farms, while others help to support orphanages, establish a community's self sufficiency, stop desertification with reforestation techniques, and rebuilding after natural disasters.
Becoming a WOOFer can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in a person's life. The organization is an open door of opportunity to assist the needy on an international level and allow people to travel the world and experience different lands, cultures, and peoples. There is always a need for all types of volunteer agriculture contributors: practitioners of permaculture, aquaponics, organic farming and agriculture techniques, and natural building.
There are many lands that have been negatively affected by drought, erosion, and overgrazing. Organic farms in these locations have set out to restore these damaged lands, help it to regain productivity, and feed the people of these areas. Volunteers, who have experience living in drylands, land restoration, and community service, are encouraged to apply. General agriculture volunteers are also accepted.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA's are all over the world. They focus on community support and self-sufficiency. One of the main components of CSA's is the sharing of surplus. Many models exist. Some work similar to a co-op while other focus on families developing gardens and all of the neighbors share the produce. This strengthens the community. As an agriculture volunteer, you will typically teach small families in a community how to grow a kitchen garden and make money from some of their produce. In a co-op type CSA, volunteers may also deliver vegetables to members of the co-op on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
The effects of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, drought, famine, and others can be very devastating. The results can be shortages of food, water, shelter, and basic quality livelihood. There is always a need for agriculture volunteers in the aftermath of natural disasters. Organic farm and permaculture principles can bring relief and productivity to a natural tragedy. The type of volunteers needed are those who have knowledge of rainwater harvesting, natural building methods, building rocket stoves or solar ovens, and, of course, organic farming.
Refugee and Orphan Support
Many people live in unintentional locations due to war, discrimination, and the lack of family support. The conditions of refugee camps and orphanages is usually substandard and in some cases inhumane. WWOOFers volunteer and help establish sustainable gardens in these places and help to teach the residents to care for the vegetation and even establish an income. This improves the quality of live of the residents overall.
Planning Your Trip
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms:
This organization helps place volunteers with organic farms internationally. There is general information on the WWOOF movement.
Camps International: Camp Muhaka is a 3-acre permaculture farm. It produces fruits, cereals, and vegetables. The farm has an outreach portion of its program that educates local farmers. The farm is also integrated with the new Polytechnic for the local community, with the aim of teaching useful skills to local youth in an effort to try and address unemployment in the area.
Food Water Shelter, Inc:
This is an Australian organization that builds and runs eco-friendly children's villages with education, social and health facilities for children in developing countries. Volunteers can help with the overall management of the farm or educate the children
Contributed by Fatimah Abdulmalik