MUCKING IN: Wwoofer Adon Bender from Newcastle mulches rows at Zaytuna at the Permaculture Research Institute at The Channon.
MUCKING IN: Wwoofer Adon Bender from Newcastle mulches rows at Zaytuna at the Permaculture Research Institute at The Channon. Cathy Adams

Tourists get down and dirty

EACH day at 7am Colombian backpacker Danielle Rubiano begins tending the kitchen garden at Zaytuna permaculture farm at The Channon.

Danielle is one of many tourists known as willing workers on organic farms, or wwoofers, heading to farms around the world to help with weeding, planting, feeding animals and other tasks in exchange for food and accommodation.

Zaytuna farm manager and WWOOF host Des Grace said having wwoofers stay at the farm provided a two-way advantage; the farm is provided with an interested workforce and the tourists learn about permaculture.

"Having people who want to get their hands dirty is good for us and it's really good experience for the backpackers who get to learn about the physical side of running a farm," Mr Grace said.

Ms Rubiano, 27, travelled from Colombia to work on Zaytuna farm and has already stayed longer than she planned.

"I came planning to stay one month because I wanted a break from studying but I found I'm really interested in permaculture and gardening and I've already stayed almost two months," she said.

Office manager of WWOOF Australia, Traci Wilson-Brown said wwoofing was great for the environment with all farms certified under the program required to engage in some type of organic activity.

"Wwoofers also get to take part in community activities and become connected into the community in a way they wouldn't have if they were just travelling as tourists," she said.

The Northern Rivers has the largest number of WWOOF host farms in Australia. Wwoofing officially began in Australia in 1981. There are now more than 55 WWOOF national groups around the globe who have thousands of hosts.

You can become a host farm/garden or join up as a wwoofer with WWOOF Australia on 03 5155 0218 or online here



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