WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
We are leaving Mallorca and our first WWOOF-ing experience after three great weeks on the island. Heading next to San Sebastian, in the north of Spain. Lots of people have asked why we did this. Do you ever wonder where your eggs came from this morning? I have recently been wondering. So when Denise’s cousin, Melissa, mentioned WWOOFing a while back, it stuck in my head. When we decided to take this trip, I thought we should give it a shot. After a little research, I found that each country has a different website and charges a small fee to sign up. Spain and France were the countries we were planning to visit next after South America, so we joined each one’s website for around 20 euros and emailed 20-25 different farms. Originally a winery sounded best, but we didn’t realize wineries don’t need much help this time of year. Got a few responses, but none we really loved. For every great offer out there, there are some shady ones — a few mentioned sleeping in a caravan on the farm property and others mentioned building outhouses. After a few days, we finally found one we thought would work for us. The owners are American and seemed very accommodating. The farm was on Mallorca, a small Spanish island around 2300 square miles that sits 200 miles east of Spain. Mallorca is known for its beautiful beaches and nightlife, but 3/4 of the island is still used for farming today. We spent 3 weeks up in the Tramuntana mountains, living about 20 minutes from town by car or an hour-and-a-half on foot. It was us and Tolo, the farmer, Liz, the owner, and many goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, 3 dogs, 2 bulls, and Smokey the little grey cat that Denise fell in love with (she was upset when we left that the cat didn’t say goodbye). It was very secluded and we had lots of hiking trails that we walked in the afternoons and evenings, with amazing views in every direction. We’d catch a ride to town a couple of times a week with someone on the farm to get groceries, go to the beach or farmer’s market, but that was about it. At the end of our stay we rented a car and drove around the island for a couple of days, which was beautiful, but we still preferred being on the farm.
Our WWOOFing consisted of 6 hours of work, 8am-2pm, 5 days a week. They provided us with our lodging and food for our 3 weeks there. Work included scraping mold off of cement blocks around the pool and cleaning the tiles inside the pool. Sanding railings around the deck and pool area. Herding the sheep and goats that got loose with the help of three well-trained English sheep dogs. The roads have metal gratings that the sheep won’t cross — you can see a photo of this below — which helps with corralling them when they’ve escaped from their fences. Tending the garden which included planting beet seeds, building a tomato structure, setting up irrigation, pulling weeds, and picking fresh vegetables and fruits for our enjoyment. Denise has a farmer’s tan on her back from working in the garden so much. The plants and vegetables included strawberries, oranges, kale, lettuce, beets, basil, and rosemary. Laying down compost and cutting the grass, and cutting back trees and vines. My favorite job was helping to take care of the animals. Denise made sure they had fresh water in the morning but no matter what she writes, she never cleaned the chicken coop. I did, and it was a lot easier than I thought. All of our food that was not eaten or parts of the fruits and vegetables like stems were fed to the chickens or added into the compost pile. Also whenever we were weeding or cutting trees and bush down we fed all of the scraps to the goats and sheep. Our main job was making the main house and the second house look its best for renters coming in June.
This farm could not exist without renters of the estate. The estate consists of three houses. They are rented to guests ranging from families of four to wedding partings sleeping up to 30. Besides that the only other money brought in is from the olive oil. There are olive trees all over the estates. Also we were at the farm during sheep shearing time, which brings in a little money. Not as much as in years past because many people buy synthetic wool these days. It’s almost not worth all of the trouble it takes to shave each sheep but it’s better for the animals.
Some of the highlights — enjoying fresh eggs from the chickens daily. Also this was one of the best places to look at the stars. Not just because of the view, which was incredible because there were no lights around us for miles, but also the sound of sheep and goats roaming could be heard throughout the day and night. At night especially, the sound was very peaceful (there is video below). The hikes were awesome, especially the views. We jumped into the Mediterranean after work one day and it was heavenly. One piece of advice when visiting Mallorca — make sure you check out the farmers’ markets on Sunday as they are one of a kind. Our favorite part of this experience was being able to cook and eat together every day and night, something we never got to do in New York. One night we got to make dinner for everyone on the farm, which we loved. We are thinking that WWOOFing in Italy might be in our future.
Where we stayed in Mallorca:
Tramuntana mountains, outside of Pollenca
Where we stayed in Palma, after we finished WWOOF-ing:
Great place to watch sunset and have drinks in Palma:
Puro Beach Palma
Anthony gets us out of a tight spot in our rental roller skate — watch this:
The sounds of silence (on the farm, this means sheep bells, which are always going):