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My name is Valerie. I am currently a grad student in Communication Studies (interested in art institutions and the internet) who thrives in a realm of yummy smells, instant and speedy wifi, and the artists, designers and thinkers who make everything worthwhile. Welcome to my website.

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Posted
8 February 2009 @ 10pm

Tagged
travel

WWOOF France: Follow Up Advice

As many of you know, I spent a month in France last summer volunteer working on organic farms in France, with the WWOOF program (stands for “Willing Workers on Organic Farms,” and is a worldwide network of which France is one national group).  I wrote two posts about it, one from my first experience at Moulin de Braux and the other about my second experience at Maison La Source.

I had offered in my post to answer any questions that people had about my experience, but since WWOOFing has become more and more popular, the emails are getting to be too much to handle with my current workload commitments.  So consider this my final wrap-up post - from now on, I am closing down my responses to this issue unless absolutely necessary.  Here are my advice and recommendations - that I would usually edit/customize for each reply - with some extra tips thrown in:

  1. If you are asking for information about working on the specific farms that I described, you will have to register at WWOOF France like I did.  I am not giving direct contact information.  Once you have paid the membership fee, you will have access to the entire directory of farms - if you want to know the information for the farms I went to, I recommend that you simply search for the name of the farm or the name of the hosts (you have them both from my posts).
  2. Searching for farms:  I personally picked farms based on how much detail they gave about the area, through verifying locations on Google Maps, and also which ones were vegan or vegetarian friendly.  I recommend sending lots of requests, since you will likely get lots of rejections - also, I found that it was easy to tell which farms were going to have good atmospheres by the responses you receive.  Several I received were actually gruff and rude in tone, so I quickly tossed those away to focus on the ones that seemed kind and gave lots of detail as to what I should expect.
  3. The Email Request: My advice for requests is to make them as personal and honest as possible.  Tell them about yourself - things that will be relevant to their interests.  Tell them about your language ability.  Ask them questions, explain what you can contribute to help around the farm and fit into their existing schedule.  Demonstrate flexibility, friendliness, and personality.  If you are sending lots of requests, you can edit each one to suit the details you know about the particular farm you are applying to.
  4. Asking Questions: My strongest word of advice is to make sure that the expectations about how many hours you are going to work are very clearly outlined before you go there. There are some important questions to ask that will really affect your experience. These are the kinds of things you should look out for.  Do you get a full weekend rest?  Do you work by yourself, or with others?  How many hours a day are you expected to work?  It is easy to feel exploited for free labour and not feel that you are getting the full experience of WWOOFing, which is about experiencing a different life, exchanging ideas and learning about growing things - NOT just about providing free labour.  Don’t get me wrong; I had a great time, it is just that the two farms were very different experiences and I really learned what to look out for.
  5. Visiting a Family: Keep in mind that when WWOOFing you are really entering into an established group of people that are kind of a family, with their own social dynamics of any family.   The social part can be a bit challenging sometimes, since they have their own system that works for them.  For example, they might raise their voice a lot when they speak, something you might not be used to.  Or you might find someone in particular difficult to work with … this is all part of the full experience, something to be aware of.  If you are open minded and flexible, and try to learn from those around you, you should have a great time.
  6. How long should you commit to? I had planned in advance to stay two weeks at each farm; and this schedule worked out well for me.  In hindsight, I would have been happy to stay longer at the first farm.  But from my hosts I got the impression that longer is actually more ideal both for your learning experience at the farm as well as for their experience (keep in mind that they take the time to train and orient you, as well as get to know you).  So I would say that if you can, try to stay for as long as possible - one to two months at minimum is ideal.  If you are nervous about the situation - worried about needing to leave suddenly because you extremely don’t belong there, etc. - you might be able to negotiate with another farm to be a kind of “back-up,” in case the situation arises.  Of course, if you do this you would want to find one relatively close by, though the train system in France is fantastic for travel.  Or, you could wait to look at other farms until the situation comes up.
  7. Internet connection: Be prepared for the situation that the internet connection is rarely or never available to you. Or, if you are lucky like me - there is one, but it is guarded by a hive of bees.  Or you may be able to access an internet cafe at a local town.
  8. Equipment: Well, this is a no-brainer - ask your hosts in advance! Things I used and was SO happy to have:  tall rubber boots (so much mud at my first farm in spring!), a good rain jacket, knock-off crocs (great for general garden work), and some durable pants that I got from a mountain equipment store.  I was so lucky to find these really cheap when I was in Spain, though finding rubber boots was no easy feat.
  9. Have fun! If your experience is anything like mine, you will experience the best sleeps at night, the most delicous/healthy/wholesome food you have ever had (and maybe learn a few cooking tricks along the way), meet amazing people (and dogs!), learn so much of the language, and have unique experiences such as eating fresh cherries of the tree, picking spinach and planting onions!  I hope that you take the chance, and have a great time.

19 Comments

[...] experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.  If you are considering WWOOF-ing yourself, please see this blog post where I give my recommendations for getting [...]


Posted by
liz
3 June 2009 @ 12am

Thanks for this post. I’m looking to WWOOF (and am vegan) so thanks for answering many questions I had!


Posted by
Valerie
3 June 2009 @ 12am

No problem! I am so glad you found it helpful!


Posted by
nina
22 July 2009 @ 12pm

I like to know address of farm(s) in France where is possible to work, preferrably with plants, thanks for responding, n.k.


Posted by
Rachel
27 July 2009 @ 5pm

I am interested in wwoofing in France, however, Im finding it extremely hard to find out whether or not I need a Visa to wwoof?? Im Australian, so dont need a visa to visit but nowhere tells me if i need any other sort of visa to undertake in this program!!
Please help


Posted by
Valerie
27 July 2009 @ 5pm

You shouldn’t need a visa - but there might be a limit on how long you can stay in France. I think for me as a Canadian it was four months limit on certain parts of Europe. Also be careful about customs since they may think you are working under the table (though you’re not) - not everyone knows/understands about the WWOOFing program.


[...] If you are asking for information about working on the specific farms that I described, you will have to register at WWOOF France like I did.  I am not giving direct contact information.  Once you have paid the membership fee, you will have access to the entire directory of farms – if you want to know the information for the farms I went to, I recommend that you simply search for the name of the farm or the name of the hosts (you have them both from my posts). (читать дальше…) [...]


Posted by
Jessica
21 January 2010 @ 8am

Thanks a lot for this! I was trying to find some general advice on WWOOFing in France, and this was really helpful!


Posted by
Valerie
21 January 2010 @ 8am

You’re welcome Jessica - so glad you found it helpful.


Posted by
k
13 April 2010 @ 8am

What is your opinion on how to address hosts that do not respond? Planning on heading to Ireland in June and have not heard back.Wanted to stay in that country but might have better luck in another countries. What info can you give? thanks


Posted by
Aurika
14 May 2010 @ 5am

I wonder whether farmers prefer to get letters in French or in English? Even though many of them indicate that they do speak English, they would probably be more likely to reply to emails written in French rather than English? and thanks for all the info, it’s very helpful!


Posted by
Stacey
22 May 2010 @ 1pm

Thanks for writing! I have decided to go to France for 8 months and WWOOF my way across it. Your advice is wonderful but I just have one question. How long did you wait to hear back from the farms? I have been waiting for more than 6 weeks to hear back! I am getting nervous as my trip is coming up and so I am emailing different farms for different weeks as to not overbook and take away from other people who are looking to visit. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!


Posted by
mandy
4 June 2010 @ 12pm

Hello, Valerie.
I would like to ask you one question. As I understand, you are a vegan, aren’t you?
I would like to know if those families you stayed with were also vegan. Or did they just respected your choice and let you cook for yourself?


Posted by
Anna
14 July 2010 @ 8pm

Hi Valerie,

I too found your post very helpful. I have a question for anyone who is an experienced wwoofer or going to be. I’m about to head off to Europe in the fall, France is my main destination but isn’t my first. In order to obtain a visitors visa i need to have an itinerary planned out and well thats kind of hard to do if your planning on being a wwoofer. Any ideas? I need to have a note from the host…I will definitely contact them in advance but can I do that two months ahead of when I’ll be there?

looking forward to a response and
future many thanks
Anna


Posted by
Valerie
14 July 2010 @ 8pm

Hi Anna,

Where are you coming from? From some countries no visiting visas are necessary. It sounds like you might be travelling for a while before you will be in France though and so may need to get a visa if your stay in Europe is of a long length.

You can definitely contact hosts two months in advance; many will be fine with that. In fact, I think I might have done that. That is probably the best course of action. Better to be prepared sooner! You will also likely feel better knowing where you are going to be during that time.

I hope that helps a little!

Cheers,

Valerie


Posted by
elhassan
18 October 2010 @ 7am

je cherche un contra de travaille n 0649108849


Posted by
France – WWoofing in France « Travel Newb
13 May 2011 @ 12am

[...] View Blog… [...]


Posted by
Lauren Eddings
12 June 2011 @ 9pm

hello! I just graduated high school and am planning to go to europe for five months this fall, starting in early august through late december/early january. I’m waiting to turn 18 to become a wwoofer which will be the end of this month, but i’m wondering what you think about wwoofing in the fall. france is my main destination, but i’d like to travel through spain and possibly up north to norway. all of which is tentative, but nonetheless ideal. I just don’t know much about farming, and I understand some farms may not be in season in the fall. though I don’t really know for sure. wondering what you think? any areas you could recommend to me? I’m such a novice at this, and would appreciate anything!! thanks so much.


Posted by
Tamar Oostrom
28 June 2011 @ 5pm

Hi Valerie,
I am interested in WWOOFing in August, and the first farm sounds perfect. I signed up with wwoof, but I couldn’t find their contact info anywhere, nor online. Do you have their email address and/or do you know if they are still active?
If you could email me back, that would be great!
Thanks,

Tamar


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