Student - July 31, 2015

Summer job: Wwoofing on a sheep farm

Some Wageningen students use their summer holidays to do work in their discipline. This week Resource speaks with Animal Sciences student Iris de Wilde.

Iris de Wilde has a passion for animals and likes to be outdoors, she says. But in her day to day life she doesn't spend much time on those two passions. The course intiutive intelligence opened her eyes. During the master Animal Sciences she focuses a lot on the theoretical side of animals and nature; now it's time to also do something more practical.

Iris: 'After the inituitive intelligence course I spoke with the coordinator of the Farmer's Group, a group of people that organise various events about alternative, often organic, agricultural practices. Their goal is to set up connections between students and farmers. One way of doing this is through Wwoof weeks, the coordinator told me.' Wwoof stands for ‘Worldwide opportunities on organic farms’. Farmers from around the world open their organic farms to volunteers, who can work their for a week.

Iris: ‘I had heard of Wwoofing before and I liked the idea. When I heard that the Farmer's Group was offering Wwoof weeks I decided: that is what I am going to do.’

Sheep farm De Schapenstreek in Lutjebroek
Wwoofers going on a boat ride together

She went to an organic sheep farm in Lutjebroek for five days where she did all kinds of chores. On the farm that produces milk, cheese and ice cream she helped to milk the sheep, she moved wood, did some weeding, sold ice cream on a sheep herding fair, and she helped to get the sheep into and out of the meadows. She also made ice cream and helped to erect part of the fence around the vegetable garden.

'It really was a small adventure. It was also fun and relaxing. I knew very little about sheep farming before I started. I now know a little bit more what it takes to run a company like this. For the farmer, it was the first time that she organised a wwoof week and i think there were a bit too many volunteers. There was not much work to do. I would have liked to do more.' But Iris has had a good time nonetheless.

'It has also confirmed that I like to work with animals, outdoors', says Iris. 'The Wwoofing was part of my orientation on what I want to do after my studies. I know that I am a generalist who likes to do practical work, but I also want to keep learning new things. However, despite the Wwoof week, I still don't know what kind of job I would like to do.'

In the last week of August the Farmer's Group organises a second Wwoof week.

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