Get Personal with the Italian Harvest

This is from a past newsletter issue of Dream of Italy:

Pretty soon, Italy’s olive and grape harvests wil be in full swing. Travelers looking for a hands-on experience often wonder how they can take part in the harvest. Finding a farm where one can volunteer can be daunting because there are strict laws in Italy preventing voluntary labor and the penalties for any farm using such labor can be stiff.

One way to gain legal volunteer status is to join WWOOF Italia. WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms was started 35 years ago in the United Kingdom by a London woman looking to help out an organic farm for a weekend. An annual membership WWOOF Italia, costing 25 euros, includes a complete list of Italian organic farms seeking help as well as periodic e-mail updates. Membership also includes basic health and accident insurance valid only while you are volunteering at a registered farm.

In exchange for accommodations (anything from a tent to a furnished room) and food, volunteers agree to work up to six hours a day for five and a half days per week. Volunteers coordinate directly with the host farms about length of stay and other details. The work can be grueling and aches and pains are not unheard of at the end of the day.

The organization warns that “WWOOFing is not a cheap holiday and way to travel. It is a voluntary organization set up to teach people about the organic movement and give them hands on experience and to help out organic producers as organic production is very labor intensive.” Still for those willing to put in the time and labor, it is a wonderful opportunity to participate in daily life on an Italian farm.