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AGRICULTURE REPORT - WWOOF: World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Recently, a listener in Nigeria told us about an organization called World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF [pronounced woof]. This organization helps people learn about organic farms around the world by working on them as a kind of holiday.

Sue Coppard started WWOOF in nineteen-seventy-one in England. She started by helping four people work for a weekend on an organic farm in the area called Sussex.

Organic farms do not use chemical fertilizers or poisons to kill insects that might harm crops. Such farms require a lot of extra work. WWOOF links people who want to learn organic farming methods with farmers who need work done. The farmers provide their visitors with a place to sleep and food to eat. The visitors agree to work on the farm without being paid. Taking part in the program is commonly called WWOOFing.

At first, the organization was called Working Weekends on Organic Farms. Later, it was called Willing Workers on Organic Farms. In two-thousand-two, World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms held its first international conference. WWOOF representatives tried to organize different national groups and establish rules for WWOOFers.

There are about twenty national WWOOF organizations. They are in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. Farms accepting visitors may also be in other countries. These are included on a list of WWOOF independents. Farms can be listed on the Internet. They pay about thirty to fifty dollars to be listed.

World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms includes many different kinds of farms. WWOOF says on its Web site that the farms generally do not use chemicals or poisons. They may be large or small farms. They also may be linked to communities. Independent WWOOF farms may not be completely organic.

WWOOFers should expect to work about six hours a day, six days a week. They might be asked to care for animals, plant crops, or do any other kind of farm work. WWOOF does not help with travel papers or work permits. It is important to discuss all details with host farms because workers are not paid and must know what to expect.

You can learn more about World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms at its Web site, www.wwoof.org.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter.

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