WWOOF Thesis

Abstract: This study explores the 1,650 hosts of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) in the continental USA. Analyzing the spatial patterns of WWOOF hosts, on two levels, provided insight into why hosts are located where they are. First, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS), variables, such as unemployment rate, natural amenity index and racial diversity index, were statistically tested in relation to the number of WWOOF hosts on the county scale. Two variables consistently positively correlate with WWOOF host locations: Bohemian index and number of organic farms. WWOOF hosts are more likely to live in counties with higher levels of topography, unemployment rate, percentage of female and minority farm operators, percentage of farms with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and high value goods, such as jams or beef jerky. They are not in counties with high farming populations and full-time farmers.  Secondly, twelve interviews with WWOOF hosts in New York State provided a means of  ̳ground truthing‘ the GIS findings. Interviews revealed that hosts choose to live in New York because they are familiar with the area, the land is cheap, they have more space or there is a social connection, either eco-community or family and friends. This study reveals there are patterns regarding the locations of hosts in the USA because hosts are looking for places where they have social support and community for organic growing.

WWOOF has great potential for spreading more sustainable farming and tourism
methods; therefore, it is necessary to know where these initiatives are occurring.

Key terms: WWOOF, Organic Movement, Farm Stays, Volunteer Labor

An Exploratory Study on World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) Hosts in the Continental USA and Upstate New York

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