Living and learning on organic farms

E-learning project for farm volunteers takes shape

A network of European WWOOF organisations have been toiling over the last year to develop a free online learning guide for the 30,000 or so young adults who volunteer each year to live and learn on organic farms and smallholdings across Europe. Their recent conference on September 19th on a remote farm education centre in the Italian Apennines moved the project a step further to completion by confirming its focus on producing short educational video clips. Farmers, smallholders, researchers and volunteers from France, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Israel, joined the staff of the 10 European partner countries to plan and test the structure and content of the guide.

The conference concluded that the best way forward would be to develop an interactive website which would show working people with real experiences, through video presentations, providing opportunities for feedback and interaction. Farm volunteering is a practical learning process in an informal situation, undertaken in a hands on way. As many volunteers already produce short videos of their experiences on blogs or YouTube, it would be a short step to ask for specifically tailored video interviews with their host farmer and short case studies from different countries, thus enabling host farmers to directly share their knowledge with many volunteers.

A key aim of the LLOOF project is to encourage and support new young entrants to farming. WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – is one of the largest and oldest exchange schemes for young farmers in Europe and has been continually expanding over the last 40 years. The LLOOF online learning guide will be free to anyone who wants to learn more about growing food organicallly and living more sustainably – an interactive extension to the hands-on practical experience of volunteering, supported by experienced host farmers.

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