Myself and Jason spent a week WWOOFing in Washington state recently. I guess before I go any further, I should explain what exactly WWOOF is. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You can work on an organic farm and learn all about farming in exchange for a place to stay and all of your meals.
It’s a great concept that allows people to work on farms all over the world. It is very popular in Australia and New Zealand but you can find it everywhere!
Myself and Jason had been wanting to do something like this for some time. We both really want to learn more about growing our own fruit and vegetables and hope to become more self sufficient over time.
So how does it work?
Well every country has their own country specific website. For the WWOOF USA website, you must pay a year subscription of $40. This allows you to see all of the farms that are looking for WWOOFers throughout America, gives a description of them all and allows you to contact them.
While searching for farms, it was exciting to see all of the opportunities that were available to us, goat farms, fruit and vegetable farms, animal farms, ranches and wineries.
We ended up choosing to WWOOF at a winery. Why? well they actually called themselves a farmery as they had animals, vegetables and grapevines on their farm so we figured that it would be a great learning opportunity.
After making contact and introducing ourselves, we agreed on a date that we would work for them. We would work a 20 day work week (about 4 hours a day) but if we wanted to work any hours over that then we would be paid a bottle of wine an hour…it sounded great to us! Also, they love dogs and Willy was more than welcome to join us.
So the winery that we worked for was called Paradisos Del Sol and it was located in Zillah in Washington State. It was owned by a great couple, Paul and Barbara. Paul taught us so much about the winemaking process, including how to properly taste wine.
When our workdays were over we spent our days tasting wine at the other nearby wineries (there were about 15 on their road alone!).
What did our days look like?
Every morning and evening we “punched down” the red grapes that were busy fermenting.
On our first day we did the final harvest of grapes, so it involved a long day of picking grapes, but it was fun to see the different types of grapes that make different types of wines and to taste them all.
Day two, we took the grapes that we had picked and brought them to a bigger winery to use a machine that detaches the grapes from the stems and gets the juice out of them.
Day three, we spent the day picking hops. Jason makes beer so it was fun for him to see some fresh hops, Paul even gave us a box full of them to bring home with us!
Day four and five were spent taking bird netting off of the vines. Because they are organic, they can’t use any pesticides or chemicals on their grapes so the netting helps to keep animals out.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. We loved our time on the farm, it taught me that I actually quite enjoy repetitive tasks. Willy loved being a farm dog for the week and we loved the tranquility of the area…will we WWOOF again??