...then maybe you’re ready to become a WWOOFer !
As a WWOOFer you will live alongside your Whosts, you’ll share their life, accompany them in their work, you’ll broaden your horizons, and you will develop another outlook on life, on your life.
Before deciding to register as a WWOOFer in Belgium, we advise you to visit our Facebook page: you will find feedback that can enlighten you. Like us also! Please also read the following guidelines and code of conduct.
Accommodation varies from Whost to Whost and ranges from a tent to your own room in their house, but can also be in a caravan, a yurt, dorm accommodation etc. In the Whosts’ profile it’s mentioned the type of accommodation they provide but this can vary according to the season and occupancies. It’s best to check with them in advance if you need more clarity.
You will have hands-on experience of organic agriculture and ecologically sound lifestyles and the opportunity to ask your Whost many questions related to their practices. In their profile each Whost provides you with a brief descriptive of their activities and of the type of tasks that you can participate in. This varies greatly and ranges from gardening related activities, to eco construction, to taking care of animals and so much more. You can choose a Whost according to the skills you already have, the ones you want to develop and any other particular interests of yours. Agricultural activities are seasonal so always check beforehand with your Whost what you will be able to help out with at the time of your visit.
The WWOOF Belgium team visits each Whost to ensure they meet our standards. We also hope this will enable us to guarantee a certain quality to WWOOFers. We are therefore eager to receive your feedback regarding positive and negative experiences, as these will help us to improve our service.
In their profile the Whost mentions if they can cater for vegetarian, vegan or diets including meat. It’s best to let your Whost know in advance about your dietary requirements and also if you have any allergies, to know if your preferences can be catered for. Many Whosts will provide you with food that they produce themselves. It can be that they prepare the food for you, self-service or that you have to cook. Remember that there are cultural food differences, and that the types of food that can be produced in Belgium can vary from what you are usually used to eating if you come from abroad - be prepared to adapt.
The Whost-WWOOFer partnership is one based on trust and respect and at no time should you feel subordinate to your Whost. If there are tasks or situations that you feel uncomfortable with, then you should share your concerns with your Whost.
WWOOFing is not a relaxed holiday. It most of the time involves physical activities which you will find tiring and boring unless you’re interested in what you’re doing.
If cultural exchanges and cheap travelling are your priority, then other organisations will suit you better (Couchsurfing, Workaway…).
You should be in good physical and mental condition to do the tasks expected of you. Bring adequate clothing (eg. Boots, waterproof gear, gloves) with you, as you cannot expect your Whost to have everything and also to your size. You might also want to bring books etc. for your time off.
Don’t forget that you’re being welcomed as a friend, so if you have any talents as a musician, poet, photographer, these will certainly be much appreciated!
WWOOF Belgium will not assist any WWOOFer to obtain travel documents (eg. Visa) and WWOOF Belgium does not offer insurance coverage for WWOOFers. It is your responsibility to have the necessary travel documents and health insurance/personal liability insurance.
If you live in Europe you may want to check out the insurance association OvEuropa – www.oveuropa.com. OvEuropa is a registered non-profit association which provides it's members with a third party liability and personal accident, injury and illness insurance, suited to volunteering. The cost of joining OvEuropa to benefit from this insurance cover is 25 Euros for one year (to check with them).
Belgian WWOOFers who are receiving unemployment benefit or are on sick leave from work, are encouraged to get in contact with the necessary bodies (Onem/VDAB, mutuelle) before arranging a stay with a Whost.
As a WWOOFer you should not be asked to use agricultural vehicles (tractor, combine-harvestor etc) or machinery (chainsaw etc). It’s your responsibility to refuse these tasks if they are proposed to you.
The WWOOFer should be polite at all times with their Whost and with other people on the premises. As a WWOOFer you are welcomed into the home of your Whost. You should be conscious and sensitive to their needs for privacy and family time.
There may be cultural, political, religious, language and many other differences between WWOOFer and Whost. These should not undermine the partnership of trust and respect that unites them. It’s important to be conscious of cultural sensitivities.
As a WWOOFer please be conscious that you should never feel obliged to participate in cultural/political/religious activities or rituals of your host. Any feelings of discomfort should be discussed with your host or with the WWOOF Belgium team.
Helping out your Whost as agreed means that in exchange they provide you with free board and food – they cannot ask you for money for this. You cannot ask for any financial reward from your Whost for the help you’re bringing or to cover your travel and other expenses. If for any reason, your tasks keep you busy for longer than expected, then you should discuss with your Whost to get an extra day off but not to get paid for your extra help.
When you contact a Whost you should let them know what interests you about their activities and give them all the practical information regarding your stay (when you wish to stay with them, your dietary preferences, query regarding accommodation if applicable). You should also introduce yourself to them and advise them on what skills, knowledge, interests you have.
Never exaggerate or pretend to have a skill you don’t as this will definitely lead to an uncomfortable situation later on. Most Whosts don’t expect you to have any particular skills or knowledge. Therefore you should not feel intimidated if you’ve never been in an agricultural setting before, or never done the tasks which you’re expected to do.
The hours of help expected from you vary from Whost to Whost. In their profile the Whost mentions an approximate number of hours per day and days per week that they expect from you. This however may vary according to the season, the number of people helping out at that time, the weather etc. There are often no fixed hours on a farm, just tasks which need to be done, and may vary in length from one day to the next. The tasks should be done properly and with a positive attitude. As well as helping with the agricultural duties a WWOOFer is expected to help with the basic household duties related to their stay, eg. setting the table, washing dishes, helping with cooking, keeping the areas they frequent clean and tidy. The partnership based on respect between the WWOOFer and Whost should ensure that both feel the exchange is fair.
A WWOOFer should never give private details regarding their Whost, especially their contact information, to anyone else. This is a matter of respect, safety and honesty. Sharing contact details with others so as to allow them not to pay the registration fee to WWOOF Belgium undermines the organisation (which is run by volunteers and depends on the registration fee to cover expenses). It’s also unfair to those who do pay as they might loose out on a WWOOFing opportunity to someone who is not a member.
Your WWOOF Belgium membership card is proof that you are a registered member and confers certain rights onto you :
Try to contact a Whost minimum 2 weeks before your planned stay. Accept or decline an offer made to you as soon as possible. Take good note that it’s an obligation for you to reply to any message from a Whost in a 2 week period. If you have a change of plan let the Whost know as soon as you can. A Whost who is expecting your stay will often make some preparations in advance by doing extra food shopping, by putting aside tasks for you to do, by going to collect you somewhere, and if you do not advise within a reasonable time delay that you will not be arriving or be arriving at a different time/day, then it can cause great inconveniences for them. Also they may have refused requests from other WWOOFers in order to have you stay, so it’s unfair to your fellow WWOOFers too.
WWOOF Belgium is very serious about this point and we urge our Whosts to inform us if a WWOOFer does not reply to messages or does not advise them of a change of plan in advance. All concerned WWOOFers will be contacted by us and if, after warning, they fail to honour this expectation, then their membership to WWOOF Belgium can be terminated. We also recommend that WWOOFers who have to wait too long for a reply from a Whost (more than 2 weeks) or get no reply at all, or are not advised if plans have changed, to contact us so that we can take the necessary actions.
So it's decided! You wish to WWOOF in Belgium! Then please follow these steps...
I am aware that by becoming a wwoofer in Belgium (by registering and paying the membership fee) I become an affiliated member of the association of WWOOF Belgium. This means that :
Before contacting a Whost we encourage you to read the below concise checklist. It will offer you valuable information and tips so as to make your experience a successful and enjoyable one.