This research paper was first published on ecoclub.com. To see the original post, click here. September, 2010.
Abstract: WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunites on Organic Farms) is a non-commercial network of organizations that facilitate volunteer work on organic farms all over the world. This study demonstrates that volunteers can contribute valuable labor, among other benefits, to their host farm destinations. The study uses data from volunteer and host farm applications to the WWOOF Canada organization, as well as a survey delivered to the host farms. The results find that this non-commercial volunteer exchange is a form of tourism, and that it overlaps to a certain extent with more commercial tourism activity. The contribution of volunteer tourists to organic farms as human resources is an example of a symbiotic relationship or synergy between tourism and environmental projects.
Keywords: volunteer tourism, farm tourism, organic farming, host perceptions, synergy, WWOOF
Introduction and literature review
Recent trends indicate that a more conscious tourist has emerged who considers environmental issues when making travel-related decisions. Conscious tourists seek an experience with lesser environmental impact and even the opportunity to contribute time and work to environmental efforts. This raises many interesting questions about the positive impacts of tourism that reach beyond consumerism. Can volunteer tourists, for example, really contribute labor in a meaningful way?
This research focuses on volunteer tourism on organic farms through a well-established association of organizations known as WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). The purpose of this research is to situate WWOOF within the context of volunteer tourism, farm tourism, and organic farming. Data taken from an online survey of host farms in Canada, as well as information from a database of both volunteer and host farm applications, is analyzed using qualitative methodology to gauge the perceived contribution of WWOOF volunteer labor to the organic farm hosts, and likewise the contribution of more commercial farm tourism on the same organic farms.
The paper is organized in four parts. This introduction and literature review will compile the current knowledge about WWOOF and its relationship to farm tourism, volunteer tourism, and organic farming. The methodology section will describe the research process, the results section will exhibit the study’s findings, and the fourth section will cover discussion.
To see the complete paper, go to the site of original publication on ecoclub.com here.