Tourism as dirt

Yana Wengel, Cheryl Cockburn-Wootten, Alison McIntosh

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFing) is defined as an alternative to tourism and as an alternative form of farm tourism. Arguably, its underlying distinctive values and philosophies shape the communication, experience and host-guest relationship between WWOOF hosts and their guests (WWOOFers). Internationally, the WWOOF network connects organic farmers and volunteer travellers in over 100 countries providing an opportunity to experience a rural and organic lifestyle in return for free board and lodging. It is a reciprocal experience and volunteers are expected to work up to six hours per day. This working paper presents key findings from a study of WWOOF host-guest experiences in New Zealand. The study aimed to uncover the communication of values within the WWOOF programme and to investigate how they shape and sustain this type of tourism. Using qualitative methods that privileged participants’ voices and developed their creative thinking, the research uncovered the narratives and relational dialects communicated about WWOOFing. Four key themes emerged from the data. They were: dirt, crossing thresholds, ideals and ethics. Overall, the results challenge the idealistic image of this type of tourism experience and reveal the participants metaphorical understandings and visions for this type of tourism. Conclusions from this working paper, provide suggestions around the communication for both the WWOOF organisation and host and guest relations
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2015


  • volunteer tourism
  • host-guest relations
  • ethical accountability
  • dirt

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