For the past three weeks, I’ve been living on a permaculture farm in Bali — for free. To say life is peaceful here is an understatement. I wake up surrounded by lush green plants, do a relaxing round of yoga, and go to work on the farm a few hours after breakfast, where I form crop beds, pull weeds, and cut compost according to regenerative principles. Then I meditate until dinner. Did I mention I am staying here for free?
I’m here in Bali through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, also known as WWOOF, an organization that connects traveling volunteers with farmers for cultural and educational immersion. It’s my second experience WWOOFing (my first was in Crete), and my time in Bali feels like a combination of living in a monastery and hanging out at summer camp. I can feel the tension and stress of three years in New York City finally start to dissipate. Needless to say, the experience is proving cheaper than therapy… (did I mention I am here for free?)
In exchange for six hours of work every weekday, I get three meals a day and a private room in return. The food is all vegetarian and organic — I eat bok choy, lettuce, spinach, and young papaya straight from the garden. Any mosquito bites or sun burns, I walk three feet from my room and cut a stalk from the abundance of aloe vera.
If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s not. WWOOF has been operating since 1971 and is now available in 132 countries. Basically, it’s the best way to travel for those who want to spend very little money and try something a little out-of-the-box. It’s arguably one of the best, and most affordable, ways to see the world.
How does WWOOFING work, anyway?
Farms looking for volunteers list themselves on WWOOF, and each one will lodge and feed you in exchange for 20-30 hours of work, weekly. If you wanted to (and planned it right), you could farm-hop and travel for months at a time, for just the cost of a plane ticket. And through WWOOF, you are cutting out the cost of food and shelter, which can stretch your funds quite a bit further.
Most countries have their own WWOOF organization, and you often have to pay a membership fee to access and view farm listings. They usually run around $25. This map will show you every country where WWOOF organizations are located. Almost every country is there. Seriously. Like, there are three farms on the Canary Islands alone, just begging you to leave your job for a year.
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By ISMAIL IBRAHIM, Published On 09/06/2019