...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 please read the following practical guidelines and code of conduct.

As a WWOOFer in Belgium, you can expect...

To receive warm, dry, clean and safe accommodation

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.

To receive learning opportunities as part of your stay, by helping your Whost with their everyday tasks

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.

To be able to complain to WWOOF Belgium if you feel these expectations have not been fulfilled

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.

To receive adequate food and drink

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.

To be treated with respect at all times

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.

As a WWOOFer in Belgium, you are expected...

To be genuinely interested in learning about organic agriculture and sustainable living practices and to do hands-on tasks related to this way of life

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…).

To arrive prepared to a Whost and ready to do the expected tasks

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!

To have the necessary documents and visa (if applicable) to WWOOF in Belgium and to ensure your own safety by having adequate insurance

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.

To not risk your safety and others‘ by doing dangerous tasks

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.

To treat your Whost with respect at all times and respect their privacy and family life

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.

To keep an open mind when meeting people from other cultures

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.

To accept that WWOOFing means there is no financial exchange between WWOOFer and Whost

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.

To negotiate with your Whost, before you arrive, concerning the needs and expectations of both parties

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.

To give the agreed hours of help

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.

To treat the information on the Whost list as private and not to share this information with non-members

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.

To always have your WWOOF Belgium membership card with you when WWOOFing in Belgium and to present it to your Whost on arrival or to anyone who requests to see it

Your WWOOF Belgium membership card is proof that you are a registered member and confers certain rights onto you :

  • the right to decent accommodation and food in exchange for your help;
  • the right to share any complaints with WWOOF Belgium, and share with us your positive and negative experiences;
  • the ability to prove instantly that you are helping there as a WWOOFer in case of a control from an employment official.

To contact Whosts sufficiently in advance and advise of any changes, as soon as possible

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.

Become a WWOOFer in Belgium

So it's decided! You wish to WWOOF in Belgium! Then please follow these steps...

1) Approve our charter

 

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 :

  • I agree with the statutes of the association, I read the charter and accept to comply with it. Charter of WWOOFer
  • I am at least 18 years old and I am committing myself to having adequate insurance to cover any health problems or travel issues and incidents for which I would be liable.
  • The functions of WWOOF Belgium are limited to giving me access to the current list of wwoof hosts (whosts) in Belgium, and WWOOF Belgium cannot be held responsible in any way in the event of an accident, theft or any other problem.
  • My membership to WWOOF Belgium may be terminated without refund if I do not act in accordance with this Charter.
I don't agree I agree

2) Your registration details

3) Pay the 15 € or 22 € membership fee

4) Complete your profile

 

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.

Checklist for wwoofers

  • Do not send a request to multiple Whosts at the same time - this will waste their time and yours, as you can only be in one place at any time.
  • Send a personal request to the Whost that interests you most.
  • Keep your emails short and to the point.
  • Gather all the information you need without sending multiple emails to a Whost – they are often very busy people!

If you start exchanging phone calls with your Whost, remember...

  • To take account of the time difference if you are phoning from abroad.
  • To try to phone at mealtimes when there is more likely to be someone in the house.
  • Not to phone after 9 p.m.
  • Don’t expect the Whost to speak your language.

Things you might want to know about your Whost before you arrive

  • How do I get to your farm? Can you pick me up somewhere?
  • What accommodation do you plan for me? Should I take a sleeping-bag, tent?
  • How many hours a day and how many days a week do you expect me to help out?
  • What kind of tasks need to be done at the moment?
  • Will I be doing these on my own or accompanied?
  • Can I get my own field of activity if I stay long-term?
  • What are the things I can learn, skills I can develop?
  • Do you live alone, with family, in a community?
  • Will there be other WWOOFers or workers there?
  • Will I have access to internet?
  • Can I receive/make phone calls at your place?
  • What languages do you speak?
  • Can my friends come to visit me?
  • Do you smoke inside the house/on your property? Can I smoke on your grounds?
  • Can you cater for vegetarians/vegans/meat eaters? Do you always eat organic food?
  • Are you in an isolated location? Is there a village/town/city within walking/cycling distance or accessible by public transport?
  • What kind of things can I do and see during my time-off? Are there any sites of historical interest, walking paths..?
  • Do you have bikes I can use?
  • Can I come with my child/children/pets?