For those of you who don’t know what WWOOFing is, it is basically working on someone else’s farm in exchange for free accommodation and meals. It does vary but that’s the simplest explanation.
Really there are two categories of WWOOFing which are farming which is most common and maintenance/construction but the work can also include things like housework and whatever else you and your host agree upon. You decide the hours, what tasks you’ll be doing, where you’ll be sleeping, whether you’ll be getting fed, etc. For instance, in my first WWOOFing experience in Montijo Portugal I did home renovation to prepare my host’s property for rent. This included painting, basic maintenance and floor adjustments but also involved upkeep of her garden. In this experience, I worked freely and for a couple of hours a day so accommodations were included and amenities but not meals — just an example.
Here in Italy, I was surprised by what I ended up doing and how everything played out. Overall, I lived in the home of an older Italian couple who owned an olive grove, a vineyard and several vegetable gardens throughout the town of Illasi where the home was located. It was just outside of Verona, surrounded my mountains, churches and covered in bright sunshine. I had my own room which was their daughter’s room when she visits, and I got three meals a day and tea throughout.
Everyday was a bit different but there was a bit of a routine I got used to where I could expect certain tasks to be done. Below is a schedule of what a typical day would involve.
SAMPLE DAY SCHEDULE
6:30AM: Wake up, meditate and get ready
The view from outside my window in the morning
7AM: Breakfast with the family
8AM: Head of to the olive groves or vineyard or do work around the house garden
11:30AM: Head back home to prepare lunch and relax/ have orzo (barley) tea
1:30PM: Relax, take a nap or get some personal work (blogging) done
3PM: Head out into the vegetable gardens, olive grove or vineyard
7PM: Return home to prepare dinner & do yoga and meditate while it’s getting ready
9PM: Free time which I usually spend calling friends or family and getting some work done or reading
10PM: Get ready for bed, meditate and sleep
Typically our days outside revolved around the sun and heat because we didn’t want to be out when the sun was strongest which was usually around 11AM and 3PM but this would change slightly depending on the day. On rainy days (usually just mornings) we would do some household work and maintenance to take advantage of our time and later head outside.
My favorite parts of the experience were pruning the olive trees because I got to climb trees basically all day, play with the little ladybugs and insects and soak in some sun while taking in the amazing view of the town studded with farms and churches. I also enjoyed the meals because I learned different recipes and all these new vegetables and herbs I never heard of before. Most of the food was produced on the family’s farm or else bought at the “bio store” which has things like cashew cheese, coconut milk and teas. Meals would be a mixture of fresh ingredients which, since it was summertime, were plentiful and included celery, carrots, tomatoes, lemon, arugula, olive oil, all sorts of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnuts), onions and more. It was so interesting seeing all the different vegan food they came up with for us to enjoy and the majority of our meals were typically Mediterranean, that is, 60% vegetable, 20% grains, 10% fruit and 10% olive oil and wine. The wine was incredible because they had accumulated decades worth of wine from friends and family and, of course, what they produced themselves as well as various kinds of liquor as digestives which we would have after dinner along with gelato or cake.