Saturday, May 31, 2008

WWOOFers in Prince Albert!

- Géraldine Woerner and Yan Sanchez -

You have probably seen us at the market on Saturday mornings and must have recognised our accent when you were buying vegetables. You have probably also asked yourselves who these two French folk are that are passing through Prince Albert. We are WWOOFers staying at Rosselvlei for five weeks.

Behind this weird name stands an organisation that coordinates an interesting concept of cooperation in the field of organic farming. The WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is an international network of organic farms that offers bed and board to members in exchange for the opportunity of working on organic farms elsewhere.

There are 18 members in South Africa. The main idea is to promote organic farming and to spread such farming methods as widely as possible. Make no mistake: for the host farms, the aim is not to get free labour but rather to receive some help on the farm and meet people from other part of the world. For the WWOOFers, this is not a means of providing free holidays in a nice place. The idea is to discover another part of the world in a different way and to learn more about organic farming techniques.

We got to know WWOOF through Echoway, a French organization that encourages sustainable and responsible tourism. As we were travelling through Africa during the last few months, we have seen how necessary it has become to get back to local production of food and to return to methods that respect the environment.

WWOOF was ideal for our purposes so that we could learn from the beginning by working with soil that has neither fertilizers, pesticides nor herbicides. Because we have always lived in the city, we were really starting from scratch but we are beginning to understand the essential elements of organic farming (good preparation of the soil, juxtaposition of various plants, etc). When we get back to France we hope to use everything that this practical apprenticeship has taught us.

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