What comes to mind when you think about the Netherlands? Many people will envisage gouda cheese, wooden shoes, tulips, or perhaps even wind mills. Although the Netherlands today is a vibrant and modern country, farm life is a big part of Dutch national culture and history.
Farm life itself has developed greatly over the years. Today the organic movement is spreading fast accross the Dutch landscape. It was therefore high time to set up a Dutch WWOOF organization, thought Nanda, Annelotte, Joshua and Jules.
Nanda and her brother Jules first began setting up WWOOF Netherlands in 2012, after they had their first WWOOF experience in Italy. They were so enthralled with the concept that they were extremely surprised to find that there was currently no Dutch WWOOF organization. Joshua and Annelotte had similar thoughts after their WWOOFing experiences in the United States and Sweden respectively. They soon found out that Nanda and Jules were already working on setting up WWOOF Netherlands, and the four of them decided to combine their efforts.
A year full of meetings, skype talks, phone calls, letters, e-mails and more meetings followed. Organizationally, the structure of WWOOF on an international level took some time to understand, as there are two international WWOOF associations which both independently oversee the development of national WWOOF groups. Another challenge was unravelling Dutch tax and immigration laws and finding a place for WWOOF to fit within this legal framework.
All of this hard work paid off when on the 18th March 2015, the WWOOF Netherlands website finally went online. Within a couple of days tens of WWOOFers had already signed up, and even a couple of extra hosts!
Right now, WWOOFers can choose from 44 hosts to realize their ultimate WWOOF experience, and expectations are that even more hosts will sign up in the coming year. The hosts currently participating are quite diverse, ranging from small families trying to live a self-sufficient life, to large communities living and working together on farms and horse stables. And the activities and things to learn are just as varied. Of course, there’s the weeding and sowing activities often associated with farm life, but some hosts could also involve you in sustainable building projects, taking care of wood land, or designing a permaculture garden.
If you’re as excited about the prospects as we are, head over to http://www.wwoofnetherlands.org/ and join the WWOOF Netherlands community!
About the founders:
Nanda grew up in the country side in the north of the Netherlands where her family had their own fruit and vegetable garden. She moved away to the city to study, but always remained interested in nature and ecology. Today she works at Kipster, a company that encourages and enables people to keep their own chickens.
As Nanda’s brother, Jules also grew up in the rural north of the Netherlands. He also moved to the city to study, but soon realized he would prefer to work. When he’s not busy with WWOOF he works as a manager for a coffee salon and follows acting classes.
Joshua learned about working in the garden at a young age when he helped his mother and grandmother with their work in the garden. He recently rediscovered his love for gardening while WWOOFing in the United States and Morocco. He works in marketing and studies to be a German teacher.
Annelotte grew up in a living community with a big shared garden in the city. She recently graduated from law school but decided she first wants to focus on a personal and creative project before becoming a lawyer. She is therefore assisting in setting up WWOOF Netherlands as well as planning for a musical career.