Wwopfer – Gazuntite – Great Escape Farms
Gazuntite? No, Wwopfer is not a sneeze. It is an acronym. It stands for Willing Worker on Permaculture Farm. It is actually an offshoot of WWOOF or Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF is a network of just over 2000 farms that have workers come and work for about four hours a day for room and board. You go to the farm and work and in most instances learn as you go along. No experience needed in most cases. It is an absolutely wonderful learning experience. Wwopfer and WWoOF seem to operate the same except the Wwopfer is done on a farm that practices permaculture techniques.
When I was Wwopfing twice this past year I met several other Wwopfers. There were seven of us in April and at least four of us in June. They were having a large workshop in June and it was a little difficult to tell who was a Wwopfer and who was a workshop attendee. All of the people I worked with have some kind of story and I’ll share a few below. The picture shows the Wwopfers and the Tenant Farmer, Jesse.
I worked with one guy in his low 20s, Jonathan, who is WWOOFing his way across country. In the early spring he worked a farm in Georgia. In the late spring he was at Elisha’s Spring Farm in WV with us. He headed out to the mid-west in early summer. He had plans on going to California and ending in, I believe, Idaho in the fall. Then he was coming back to the east coast to make some money for his next adventure. Along the way he was stopping at historic sites, going to concerts, meeting up with friends and seeing the country. That is something I would love to do, but it is something that can only really be done when you are in your teens or twenties, as you don’t have as many responsibilities then.
There was another guy at Elisha’s Spring Farm, Matt, that spent quite a long time there. He was there before I arrived in mid-April and was still there in mid-June when I went back and he didn’t really have plans on leaving. He said he averaged about four hours a day performing farm chores and then did day trading (stocks) in his off time. He came up from Florida in a camper and just had it parked in the parking lot. He lived in his camper and the farm supplied him with electric and water hookup.
Another guy, Kyle, sent me an email detailing his thoughts of Wwopfing. I could not write it any better than he wrote it, so I’ll just paste it in the way he wrote it.
“I am having a hard time coming up with things I did not like. The people, the farm, even the work all contributed to a positive experience.
My biggest let down was how long I could stay. The week I was there was packed with so much stuff it felt like two weeks – it really felt like two weeks, my hands finally felt better after I was home for a week. All I was thinking about was, “Is there any way I could quit my job and start being a farmer now”, but like in most things a solid plan and steady steps will get me there. Everything I can remember was great, if there was anything I did not like I have forgotten what it was.”
Some of the other people that were there in the course of my two trips were photographers, engineers, construction workers, farmers, recent high school graduates, and a few that are transitioning jobs and just looking for something different. I myself took a week’s vacation in spring to go and Wwopf and a long weekend in early summer to Wwopf. I will write another post on my experiences and some of the things I learned. The one thing I will tell you now is Wwopfing was an absolutely wonderful experience and everyone I worked with and worked for were great people and I’m glad I had the chance to meet them and get to know them.
As for my actual experiences, you’ll have to wait until next week.