farm fruitHow’s this for a crazy vacation idea… Work on a farm, stay for free! 

Thousands of farms across the United States, and throughout the World, invite travelers to volunteer in exchange for a free place to stay… meal(s) included. 

Participating in a farm stay or host farm program is an incredible way to not only see the world on a budget, but learn more about the rural farming world around you!

The In’s & Out’s Of How It Works 

It’s not a bed and breakfast. 

It’s not a luxury vacation at a five star resort. 

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a farm stay program in which travelers agree to put in a few hours of work on a host farm in exchange for accommodation. No money is ever exchanged in the transaction.

WWOOFers, as they are referred to, will spend around half a day learning about and working sustainable agriculture, leaving the remainder of the day free to see the local sights of the area. 

Participants in the program must be at least 18 years or older, and purchase a valid membership that runs $40.00. Membership will give volunteers access to the 2069 farms currently participating in the WWOOF program.

What’s The Catch? 

farm stay

If you are a traveler who is looking to see the country, and save some serious money in the process, then a farm stay vacation may be what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that your room and board on the farm is a two-way transaction. You will be required to put some time in on the farm; the amount being determined by each participating host farm. Typically, a half day of work is what most host farms require. 

You may be asked to pick vegetables, work with animals, tend to honeybees, bail hay, irrigate crops, milk cows, or even make wine. Essentially, you’ll be doing farm chores. The type of work you do is entirely dependent on the host farm you elect to stay at and their particular needs at that time. 

When selecting a host farm to stay and work at, it’s imperative that you look carefully though the information listed for each farm; and make sure to check with the owners beforehand exactly how much time each day you will be expected to contribute. Please keep in mind that staying at a host farm is considered compensation for the work you do, and no additional monetary compensation will be offered.

city farmerBenefits 

WWOOFing is a way to learn practical farming skills, be part of the organic agriculture movement, and experience the heart of American agrarian culture; all while getting a serious vacation discount. If you are looking to bring children along, it’s also a great way to teach them the value of hard work while still having some fun along the way. 

Notable U.S. Farm Locales 

There are currently 2069 farms participating in the farm stay program in the United States alone. If you have your heart set on vacationing somewhere in particular, chances are there is a participating farm near your desired destination. Here are just a few notable U.S. farm locales in which you can stay: 

  • US Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • O’ahu, Hawaii
  • Coffman Cove, Alaska
  • Durango, Colorado
  • San Diego, California
  • New York City, New York
  • Merritt Island, Florida
  • Miami, FL
  • New Orleans, LA
  • San Francisco,California 

Selecting Your Vacation Location 

Unless you have a predetermined destination in mind for your farm excursion, the process of selecting among the 2069 farms that participate in the program can be pretty daunting. Fortunately, the WWOOF program lets interested party select farms based on their own specific criteria and desires. These include: 

Duration of Visit. Stay at a farm for just one day, or long term. Most farms have opportunities that are only a week or two in duration, but there are some that let participants stay for one month, two or three months, or even longer. 

Number of Visitors. How many people are you bringing with you?  Some farms can accommodate large families or groups, other cannot. 

Type of Farm. Choose among dairy, garden, vegetable, livestock, vineyard, orchard, and homestead farms. Consider the type of work you might be required to do; be it picking grapes or helping milk cows. 

Food. Select from farms that feed you vegan, vegetarian or traditional cuisine. Most farms serve breakfast; the available other meals depend on how the farm operates. 

Lodging. Are you interested in sleeping in bedroom in the farmers home, a separate structure all together, a tent, or an RV? 

Pets and Kids. Some farms will not let you bring your rugrats, or Fido. Make sure you check before booking your farm excursion. 

Other Noteworthy Farm Vacation Programs 

planting farmIn addition to WWOOF, there are also a couple other programs that are participating in the farm stay program. Workaway.info and helpx.net are also sites that list host farms or farmstays that are looking for short-term volunteers in exchange for food and accommodation.

Final Word 

If you are the adventurous type who wants a first hand farm experience; someone who wants to be a part of something bigger in the organic agriculture movement; someone who likes to work hard and play hard, then the staying at a host farm while vacationing is for you. You can save some serious dough and see these United States, or even the World, for a lot less. 

If you are the vacationer that wants to separate work from pleasure, and wants to refrain from getting your hands dirty while on vacation; staying at a host farm my not be in your best interest. 

A few of us here at Bulwark Exterminating think this is an awesome opportunity; so much so that we’re currently looking at a local farm here in Arizona that we’re going to do a one night stay at with our families. We’ll let you know how it goes! 

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