This summer we spent a couple of weeks wwoofing in Denmark. Wwoofing? Yes.
It’s an interesting concept, wwoofing. The term stands for World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms, and the initiative finds its origins in the UK, 1971, when opportunities were created for city people to go into the country side and work and learn on organic farms.
Today there are vast networks of hosts and volunteers (wwoofers) in many countries around the world. You sign up on a wwoofing site such as wwoof.dk, contact hosts and make arrangements to spend a period learning, and working voluntarily on their farms.
Now that my daughters are old enough to stand on their own feed and carry their own backpack, I felt it was time to introduce them to a way of spending the holidays that I have liked very much in my pre-motherhood days; travelling by train and doing volunteer work. I very much wanted the kids to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time outside in nature, and I hoped that wwoofing would provide an opportunity to combine all this.
And so, after a lot of emailing back and forth with a friendly Danish host, we embarked on a 10 hour trainride from The Netherlands all the way up to the North of Denmark, where we ended up in a small, small village on the edge of a fjord.
Together with another volunteer from Japan, we spent our time working on a large vegetable garden, weeding, planting and harvesting, picking all kinds of berries and using these to make tasty cakes and lemonade. We ventured out on our bikes to discover the beautiful surroundings together aswell. The kids enjoyed themselves too: building a treehouse, roaming around the garden, picking strawberries, and painting rocks.
We had a very interesting time, and I personnally feel I learned a lot about organic gardening, about wwoofing in general, and about myself too.
I think we might do this again another year, and I would totally recommend it as a way of spending your family holiday, but there are few things to keep in mind.
Allthough I think most people go wwoofing without kids, it’s quite possible to do so as a family. It is practical when your kids are old enough to look after themselves a bit; they can help out a bit but also play by themselves while you work. It helps when there are other kids around to play with too! It is also important I think to be very clear about your needs and expectations both as a host and as a wwoofer; not every place is suitable to accomodate families, and even when they are it helps to have an open conversation about mutual expectations and wishes.
Well, all in all we had a wonderful time in a beautiful place !