About WWOOF the Netherlands
What comes to your mind when you think about the Netherlands? Many foreigners will probably think of Gouda cheese, wind mills, cows, tulips or wooden shoes. Although the Netherlands nowadays is a modern European country, farming is still a big part of Dutch history, culture and identity. Organic farming and the sustainability movement are gaining momentum in the Netherlands. Combining old principles with new innovative techniques to work without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. What better place to have a WWOOFing experience than in the middle of the Dutch characteristic polders (wetlands)?
WWOOF the Netherlands was initiated in 2014 by a team of three WWOOFing-enthusiasts: Nanda, Joshua and Annelotte. After a long time of preparation, the WWOOF the Netherlands website finally went online on March 18th, 2015. Together, their mission is to get as many Dutch farmers as possible enthusiastic about receiving WWOOFers on their farms, and to get as many WWOOFers as possible enthusiastic about WWOOFing in the Netherlands.
Nanda grew up on the countryside, in the North of Holland. Surrounded by farms, she used to help out the neighbours, and was paid already (although a little) at a young age. At home they used to have their own vegetable and fruit garden, which gave delicious food mostly in summer. Especially the strawberries were favourite of Nanda and Jules (her brother, later more about him). Every evening desert was yoghurt and strawberries, which never got boring. Nanda moved out, and studied in Groningen and Amsterdam. She decided to give a birthday present to Jules, a not-so-everyday-gift; the membership of WWOOF Italy. They went on a trip together in 2012 to central Italy, for almost three weeks they helped on two different farms. An unforgettable experience, which made Nanda think of her own childhood, and she enjoyed learning about organic farming. It was also rewarding, since the farmers could really use their help, and gladly shared their knowledge. When they got back in the Netherlands, Nanda found out that WWOOF the Netherlands didn’t exist yet, and she decided to contact WWOOF. She found out that Joshua was interested too, and asked her brother to join in as well. And together they started WWOOF the Netherlands!
Joshua’s fascination for nature and gardening go way back. As a little boy he used to help his mother and grandmother in the garden. Trimming and lawn mowing where his favorites and of course harvesting the fruit at the end of summer. Years went by and the young man forgot about his fascination for nature. Studying hard and living in small rooms without a garden made him forget about his wonderful hobby. Until the year 2012 arrived. He moved into a home with a big “garden”. The yard was fully tiled like a parking lot, totally boring, so the first thing Joshua did was lift some tiles and put some plants in the ground. That year he rediscovered how much fun working in the garden and producing your own food is. The seed was planted and a year later he thought: I have to do more with this fascination, I want to learn more about permaculture and about farming!
The decision was made but there was also that other long kept desire; seeing more of the United States. Why not combine the two? On coincidence he ended up on the Wwoof USA website and it is there where the adventure called WWOOF-ing began. Almost a month in California at two different farms Joshua’s enthusiasm for farming and gardening was deeply reinstalled. A year later he also went wwoofing in Morocco which was a totally different but also wonderful experience. Back in the Netherlands he discovered that a WWOOF Netherlands organization did not yet exist. He figured that WWOOF-ing in the Netherlands could be a potential hit. And well, the rest is history…