WWOOF and Helpx

You've heard of singing for your supper? This is farming for your room

If you really want to get your hands dirty, sign up with either one of two organizations—Helpx and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms—that provide longer-term free housing (and sometimes meals) in exchange for you pitching in a few hours of work each day.

( Barattobb.it is an Italy-only network of B&Bs swapping rooms for handyman work, professional help—web design, photos, etc.—and other odd jobs.)

The major differences between Helpx and WWOOF

Which is best? That depends on whom you ask—but many who have used both (including both workers and hosts) seem to prefer the upstart Helpx. Here are some key differences:

  WWOOF Helpx
Cost $10–$40 per chapter Basic: Free
Premier: €20 ($28) for 2 years
What membership covers You must join the WWOOF chapter in the country to which you want to travel. Planning a volunteering trip to more than one country? You have to join each chapter separately. Covers the whole world with one membership.
Global reach There are WWOOFing chapters in 52 countries, plus a "WWOOF Independents" chapter representing limited numbers of opportunites in 39 more countries (though not too limited; some countries offer only a handful of farms, but Belgium, South Africa, Norway, and Kenya each offer 30–50).
Total: 91
Helpex features at least 100 farms in each of 11 countries (strongest in Australia, New Zealand, U.S., Canada, and Western Europe) with a smattering (50 farms or fewer in most cases) in 78 others.
Total: 89
Types of work WWOOF is pretty much restricted to just farmwork, and these days almost always on certified organic farms. Helpx has a bit looser rules, and many times the type of work offered is not restricted just to typical farmhand jobs but also odd jobs around the house or farm (painting, carpentry, gardening, etc).
Reviews WWOOF is pretty much still a basic catalog, with little user feedback. Helpx offers fuller profiles of both volunteers and of hosts, allowing hosts to seek out or choose good matches, and potential workers to read reviews that other Helpxers have written about working for a particular host.
Age Founded 1971 Founded 2001

Helpx (www.helpx.net)

Helpx was founded in New Zealand in 2001 by an Englishman who worked his way across Australia and New Zealand. The idea is to offer to work for an average of four hours per day in exchange for free accommodation (and, sometimes, meals).

You can sign up for free, but if you pay for Premier membership (€20 for two years), you are able to contact all hosts and read all host reviews. Being "Premier" also allows hosts to read your own profile, where you can list special skills, and they might reach out to you to offer a gig.

Some hosts only ask for two hours of work a day, but requrie you to provide and cook yoru own food. Other might ask for a full six hours, but cook for you and feed you.

WWOOF (www.wwoof.org)

WWOOF is a collection of volunteer organizations in 97 countries around the world, from Australia to Korea, Ghana to the U.S., Italy to Nepal (plus "independent" members—countries with only a handful of opportunities).

Each chapter is devoted to supporting and helping teach about organic and environmentally sound farming techniques—though many joek that the funny acronym WWOOF doesn't actually stand for "World Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms," but rather for "Willing Workers On Organic Farms," since you do end up doing a lot of farmhand chores.

To become a Wwoofer, You join the WOOF chapter in the country where you'd like to work (for roughly $10 to $40), it sends you a list of farms that would appreciate a helping hand in exchange for room and board.

You must be willing to put in six hours of work six days a week to see how the farming half lives in a variety of nations.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in April 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.