Working on Vacation

WWOOFing on the Farm: Volunteering On An Organic Farm in New Zealand tells the tale of GoNOMAD writer Celeste Brash’s adventures weeding, planting, and harvesting while on vacation.

“By afternoon we are all sunned, dirty and have moved on to picking tomatoes. By evening, we are contentedly exhausted, but inspired enough by the array of fresh fruits and vegetables that we cook another great meal. Feeling the satisfaction that comes only after a day of long, hard, physical work, I fall quickly to sleep, unable to find any thoughts that might keep me awake.

For three days a week, we work on the farm weeding, planting or harvesting. The other four days we are free to visit local Napier and Hastings sights, meet with new friends or just relax and read a book. Our kitchen is stocked daily with an impressive supply of farm produce, and we all have our own comfortable bedrooms.

But, the best part is meeting the local farm workers who invite us to their houses, show us around the area and even take us to parties. By the end of a spiritually and physically rewarding three weeks, I find that the only money I’ve spent is on a few beers with friends down at the local pub. Created in the UK in 1971 and established in New Zealand in 1974, WWOOF was meant to bring the experiences of different peoples to small, rural farmers, while simultaneously opening up life on organic farms to outsiders.

There are small farms that ask to host families with children, others mention they enjoy meeting musicians or people of particular religious denominations. Many farms are entirely self-sufficient and interested in teaching sustainable development to others. There are sheep farms, medicinal herb farms, cattle ranches, deer farms and classic produce farms; there is even one listing for a Buddhist monastery.”