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What to Expect from WWOOFing?

Posts: 8
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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My name is Mishelle I am a grade 12 high school student in Manitoba Canada, I am looking forward to a career in permaculture and to get me started on that path I plan on WWOOFing after high school. I would like to spend a year in France starting in January of 2016 (six months after graduating, to give me time to save up money) I was planning to spend a large portion of the year on one farm and the rest of the year between farms. my plan is to save up $12,000 working over the school year and for six months after I graduate, I have no experience with traveling and am wondering if this is this is practical, is this enough money to support me for a year of WWOOFing?
are there things I should take into consideration? Any advice will be helpful!
Lab Ant
Posts: 274
Location: Orange County, CA
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Hi Mishelle, and kudos for stepping out on a grand adventure! Wwoofing is a great way to get started in permacuture and to gain experience on the farm. It is also a great way to find out if you actually enjoy the lifestyle. One thing you should be prepared for is a lot of physical work, shoveling, weeding, carrying heavy loads, and the like. However, on a good wwoofing farm you will also find lots of opportunities to learn, plenty of time alone in nature, and an exciting community of young folks like yourself. In fact, if you don't find these things on a particular farm it is probably a good idea to find a different opportunity. One thing that you sometimes find with wwoofing is that the farms see wwoofers as simply free labor for the price of food and camping. This is not what wwoofing is supposed to be. Food doesn't cost that much and a camping spot is practically free, so if you are working 6 hours a day for only this you are getting a bad deal. All that labor you are providing is supposed to be exchanged for the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge, to gain experience and prepare you for a farm career of your own. With that said, you may still find yourself pulling weeds for 6 hours straight because sometimes that is what needs to be done, that's the reality of farm life. I'm just saying that if you find yourself pulling weeds all day every day, its time to move on to a different farm.
On that note, I would recommend that you plan to move around between different farms for the first part of your trip. Don't commit to a long stay right off the bat. This way, you can move around until you find a farm that you really like and then arrange a longer stay there. Most farms will be glad to have someone for an extended stay, that is, if you are a good worker.
As far as the money goes, 12,000 sounds like plenty for a year, although I am not too familiar with how expensive things are in Europe. Keep in mind that as long as you are on a farm and working, your food and housing are provided so you shouldn't need very much money. Beware of going to town too much, town is a great place to waste money. When you are traveling, resist the temptation to eat out a restaurants. Buying food at the grocery store is much more cost effective, and you know what you are getting. My partner and I traveled around California this spring and summer by bicycle and spent about $10,000 between the two of us. The majority of that was spent at on eating out (oh the glorious California burrito!) and the occasional motel room when we were tired of camping. If you can eliminate these extra expenses you can really travel on a small budget.
I would also recommend that you take at least $2,000 of your savings and leave it at home. That way, when you get back from your travels you are not scrambling to find a way to make some money.
Posts: 518
Location: Andalucía, Spain
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What a great idea! An how great to have made that choice in such a Young age.

I Spain many people live on €1000 a month (~$1300). So if the 12.000 is for living only, then you are good. But if you include travel expenses, and maybe stadig on hotels once in a while, it might be a little tight (and France is more expensive than Spain).

We have been thinking about getting a farmhelp/au-pair, and if we do that we would pay him/her.

Also there are apprenticeships, but those you'd have to pay for - but I have seen some that were €300/month and included 2 workshops and a PDC, and room and board - that's cheaper than living in any major city in Europe and well within your budget. We are actually thinking of doing those sometime in the future.
Posts: 53
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Hello Mishell,

Acknowledgments to you for your courage and also your commitment to learn ad make a difference. Here at WWOOF Thailand we call it "Planting it forward".

If you go to our website www.wwoofthailand.com and go to the FORUM page under Thailand you will see advice on WWOOFing and costs. I realize these are for Thailand but they may help.

Also we get many young people like yourself from USA, Canada, Europe and Australia doing what you want to do. So ask a few questions on the WWOOF Thailand FORUM or Blog and I am sure you will get plenty of answers.

Last suggestion to help you is this. In Thailand WWOOF and Permaculture are closely aligned, so you can also see more about Permaculture in Thailand see the Permaculture Institute of Thailand website. Here it is www.permacultureinstitutethailand.org If you are interested in cheap Permaculture Certificate courses these are the least expensive hosted Permaculture Design Courses you will find any where. Average PDC (72 hour certificate course) runs about $600 usd (this includes your food and accommodation!).

This is just a suggestion and we hope this helps.

Yours in WWOOFing and Permaculture.
Posts: 32
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Hey, my name is Christian and I am about to spend the winter WWOOFING in Belize. $10-12,000!!! I live on the road and there is no way I spend that much in an entire year!! I live in a tent, but still have all my needs and wants, a full kitchen that I only cook organic foods in, and enough money that I still regularly go out to eat and play. I've still been able to save $2,000 in the last 2 months, and that's all I'm using for winter, and mostly on airfaire and passports.

Most countries abroad are very inexpensive, and I have many friends who travel abroad for weeks on $500, still enjoying the sites and meeting all needs and wants!!

I just wanted to tell you, if you plan ahead, do your research, and live frugally, that $10,000 can be waiting for you AFTER your WWOOFING adventure.

Posts: 9002
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I think Christian's experience is common. Most young travelers don't run through a lot of money. My daughter spent the summer in Italy, posted with host families while being paid to teach English at summer camps. After 7 weeks, she finished spending the 10 euro bill that she broke upon arrival. The host families paid for everything. She eventually spent a few hundred on traveling during work breaks. Even her train tickets were covered.

Check out the couch surfing sites on the Internet. A young girl should only consider those who have hosted many others. Ratings are posted on the sites. My daughter stayed in Paris and Rome for free during work breaks. She gave each family a little gift. If any of them come to Canada, they will stay in my cottage for free.
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