If you need a vacation and lack funds and resources for the traditional trip, consider becoming a WWOOFer. The WWOOF movement originally started in 1971 so workers in London could spend weekends in the country while learning about growing food. WWOOF refers to farms participating in the World Wide Organic Organization of Farming, a network of farms spread out across the U.S. and the globe that hosts visitors to their farms.
Visitors work at assigned tasks on the farm in exchange for meals and board. As many of the hosts have minimal restrictions around lengths of time for WWOOFers, vacationing or time off in between jobs can be an excellent opportunity to get your hands dirty and learn more about growing food. When planning your time as a WWOOFer, make sure to double check expectations for each farm and plan carefully.
Here are the top five reasons to WWOOF as a vacation:
1. Spending time outside can be an excellent way to combat stress. A study published by Landscape and Urban Planning found that adults living in areas with the largest amounts of green space reported less feelings of stress than of those who spent most of their time in urban settings. Just think of your stress levels dropping for each day spent in the sun and fresh air.
2. It is an affordable option for travel. With room, food and board covered, your only expense while volunteering as a WWOOFer can be for traveling. Many of the farms exist far from populous centers with little distractions for spending money.
3. Don't worry if you don’t have any farming experience. If you are concerned about lack of experience while volunteering as a WWOOFer, most farms take volunteers of all levels of experience. They only expect you to show up at a farm armed with a positive attitude and flexibility to suit the daily needs at the farm. Keep in mind that you may have to assist with some mundane tasks like weeding, but plant care and upkeep at an organic farm can be labor intensive.
4. An important component of WWOOFing involves the educational aspect. If you want to know about growing your own food, hands on education is the best way to educate yourself about food growth. Even if you have no outdoor space, any knowledge about gardening can be employed for indoor and smaller spaces. Many farms provide more than just an opportunity to grow food. As a WWOOFer, you can also learn how to build structures, make food, and care for animals.
5. The community and networking potential is an amazing opportunity within itself. Many of the farms have a variety of volunteers coming in and out on a weekly basis. With more than 1,000 hosts in the U.S. and more spread out across the planet, becoming a WWOOFer can provide countless contacts for meeting other guests and volunteers.
With careful planning, WWOOFing can be an excellent time away from daily life to unwind and connect with nature. Rebecca D’Angelo, a past WWOOFer, decided to spend time on a farm after she graduated from college. “I didn’t have a job after college and I love working outdoors. Doing so has gotten me through some tough transitions,” said D’Angelo. She added that she WWOOFed at farms in Maine and Connecticut.
Make sure to research and communicate with your potential farming hosts while organizing your WWOOFing adventure. Ensuring that you and your hosts are on the same page before you arrive will definitely make your WOOFing experience a positive one.
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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