WWOOFing: An Overview & Review

WWOOFing in Pembrokeshire
Wwoofing Overview & Review

What do you do when you have a week of annual leave you need to take before your allowance restarts and you lose it? You do some work elsewhere that you don’t get paid for, obviously.

I (Joel) had been thinking about how I could use a week off to do something slightly unorthodox and a bit more fulfilling than my day job. As we were watching some trash TV, someone on the programme mentioned something called WWOOFing.

It piqued my interest, and after a quick Google search, I figured out this could be my golden ticket to a top week off work. And a top week it turned out to be.

Before I get into my experience, here’s a little background on WWOOFing and what it’s all about.

20240321 WWOOF 011

What is WWOOFing?

In a nutshell, WWOOFing is a global network that connects organic farms and growers with volunteers and it stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

It’s an exchange where WWOOFers, like me (noted – it’s a bit of a ridiculous name), help on organic farms in return for food, accommodation, and education about sustainable farming practices.

No money changes hands, and it’s not designed as a source of paid employment.

It sounds a bit cheap on my part, but in my experience, it wasn’t. WWOOFing is valuable in so many ways to both parties, and not just about exchanging food and shelter for labour.

It’s a cultural exchange; you get hands-on experience and local knowledge you might not otherwise get, and they get a grafter (like me, obviously).

20240318 WWOOF 016

How Does it Work?

The official procedure is this:

  • Become a member in your chosen country by paying a small membership fee.
  • Find a host based on your interests, location and skills.
  • Reach out to the host and plan a call to discuss options, expectations, details, etc.
  • Go WWOOFing. It’s as simple as that.

The beauty of the website is that you have almost all of its functionality aside from contacting hosts.

This means you can find and shortlist suitable locations before you commit to paying the membership fee, which is exactly what I did.

I shortlisted the farms I was interested in, then paid the membership fee and contacted my host.

20240317 WWOOF 011


There are loads of reasons someone might want to WWOOF, and here are a few highlights:

  • Learning about organic farming.
  • Meet new people and enjoy a cultural exchange by living with local folk and learning about their way of life.
  • Travel on a budget by saving on food and accommodation costs in exchange for labour.
  • Contribute to a more environmentally friendly way of living.
  • Do something you might otherwise not get to do in your day job.
20240320 WWOOF 002

My WWOOF Experience

I went to Pembrokeshire, Wales, to a small sheep farm, and it was like being in another world despite being only 235 miles from where I live and work as a photographer and part-time travel blogger.

London is home, and I work on Whitehall – one of London’s tourist hotspots, topped and tailed by some of the capital’s greatest landmarks – the Houses of Parliament and Nelson’s Column.

20240317 WWOOF 030

Growing up on the edge of Leeds’s urban sprawl and living in cities for most of my adult life, I’ve always considered myself a bit of a city boy, but living and working in central London is something else and on a totally different level to what I’m used to.

The London lifestyle is all-consuming, with a pace unlike anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

After visiting my brother in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the end of 2023, I knew I needed some time away from The Big Smoke. Gothenburg is a wonderful coastal city where urban living meets the sea, the great outdoors is a big part of people’s lives, and the city culture is very different to what you’d expect in a UK city, let alone London.

20240318 WWOOF 002
WWOOF, Worldwide Opportunities for Organic Farming, Pembrokeshire

Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was on my way to Wales for my first WWOOFing experience. I knew nothing more than a name, address, and phone number.

I had no idea what the hosts looked like, nor did I know what I was getting myself into – a strange concept in the Western world where people often have an irrational fear for their personal security, and everything is meticulously planned.

It was a refreshing change to my life, where I know where I’ll be, what I’ll wear, where I’ll eat, my schedule for the day – the list goes on.

Little did I know it would be one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in a long, long time. Emma and Matt, the hosts, made me feel at home as soon as I arrived, almost like one of the family.

I was staying in their son’s room in a separate building, which offered plenty of personal space, a warm bed, and a fire, which I finally learned how to get appropriately roaring before I left!

20240318 WWOOF 032

The separation of living quarters didn’t matter because we spent each night sharing dinner and swapping stories about our lives.

It was fascinating to listen to Emma and Matt’s story about the farm, how far they’ve come, where they want to go, and Emma’s anecdotes from her career alongside the farm.

20240318 WWOOF 017

The farm is predominantly a sheep farm in the wilds of the Preseli Hills, with over 30 hardy ewes. There is a lot to keep Emmand and Matt occupied, from the sheep and their needs to the veg patch, and I got an insight into both.

Matt and I spent a day rebuilding a fence to enable a field to be used again for grazing and building pens for the forthcoming lambs.

I also spent some time with Emma planting vegetables, de-weeding veg patches, and shifting a load of wood to make space in the barn for the ewes ready to birth their young.

20240321 WWOOF 018

The work was far more physical than I am used to – I operate a camera for a living. However, I consider myself reasonably fit – I cycle, go to the gym and walk miles weekly. But working on the farm left me aching for days!

The work was what I would consider functional fitness and left me without needing any supplementary exercise.

20240322 WWOOF 040

There’s a lot to be said about doing physical work in a job. It felt like killing two birds with one stone – completing jobs and doing some exercise simultaneously, with the by-product of feeling great.

Lots of us drive desks these days and miss out on the benefits that some hard graft in the great outdoors can have on our mental and physical health.

20240321 WWOOF 008

It was refreshing to see Emma and Matt’s passion for the farm. Matt is very resourceful with his hands, and Emma has a strong love for growing and is very connected to the land.

They both let very little go to waste and seeing this in action made me reflect on my own habits and consumption.

Maybe if we were all exposed to this kind of life, we could make small changes that would be better for the planet, our bodies, and our wallets.

20240321 WWOOF 020

My WWOOFing experience was more than just an exchange of food and shelter for labour.

The exposure to local culture and knowledge was priceless and something you don’t often get as a tourist.

I’m an adventurer, so when all the tasks were completed, I was off in my camper and managed to get a real taste of Pembrokeshire.

20240319 WWOOF 015

Emma and Matt pointed out the best places to visit, from Tenby to St Davids, the wild Strumble Head Lighthouse to the ancient woodlands of Tŷ Canol National Nature Reserve, and Tafarn Sinc, where my visit ended – a community-owned pub with sawdust on the floor, ham hanging from the roof and resident cat curled up against the fire.

Their local knowledge is all part of the cultural exchange – I could visit places and see things I might otherwise not see because I wouldn’t know they existed.

20240319 WWOOF 026

Returning to London, I felt something missing. I had all this time to fill. I no longer needed to light a fire and keep it going to keep me warm in the night or potter about doing other bits and pieces.

And after a day’s graft, I was ready for bed. Society has become so automated that we no longer have to do what we consider menial tasks.

20240321 WWOOF 003

We no longer need to hand wash the dishes. We no longer need to hand wash clothes. Machines can do it all. We no longer need to cook or even go to the supermarket. A delivery driver brings it all to us.

But what do we fill the time with? Social media and TV. I hadn’t looked for these things while in Wales.

There was stuff that needed to be done for the benefit of the farm and the animals – things that created purpose and provided fulfilment.

20240318 WWOOF 014

I watched a short film called Heart Valley about a Welsh sheep farmer some time ago.

Before I saw the film, I read an article about the farmer, and I couldn’t understand why this person lived the way they did, having only left Wales once and who ate the same thing every single day.

But it wasn’t until I watched the short, and everything fell into place. This guy was content.

Most of us are chasing something, trying to find happiness and trying to find ourselves and this guy had found it all. He’d found his place.

I found a bit of myself in Pembrokeshire.

20240323 WWOOF 001

I’m a photographer in the Royal Navy. I’ve been in the Navy for over 21 years, and with the end of my service fast approaching, this WWOOFing experience came at the right time.

It shed some light on living an unorthodox lifestyle and what’s possible beyond the military.

My life is rich in many ways, and I consider it even richer after spending a week with Emma and Matt.

A couple of nights before I left, two lambs were born, a suitable ending to a great week. It was my first WWOOFing experience, but it won’t be my last.

20240323 WWOOF 013


Is WWOOF free?

Not entirely. In the UK, you need to pay a membership fee to contact hosts. Once you’ve paid the membership fee, the stay itself is free. You’ll also have to pay your own way to get there.

Wwoofing Overview & Review

If you want to keep up with our travels, please subscribe to our mailing list. We won’t spam you; we’ll only contact you with exciting news and new stuff! Enter your email in the box below and hit subscribe!

20200417 Web Scans 6

Leave a Reply