WWOOF (Working Weekends on Organic Farms, as it stood for then) was born in 1971, when London secretary Sue Coppard began to feel very nostalgic about a farm she used to visit as a child. She had happy memories of "picking wildflowers, building dams in streams, sliding down haystacks and generally running wild" and wanted to get back out to the countryside.
Sue did a bit of investigating and organised a trial weekend for herself and three other Londoners on an organic farm in East Sussex. She arranged a deal with the farmer: they would help out with work that needed doing on the land in exchange for food and accommodation. Although the farmer hadn't expected much from 'the townies' the weekend was so successful it became a regular trip, every third weekend.
News gradually spread of Sue Coppard's Land Army, and other organic farms got in touch, all keen to offer their hospitality in exchange for help from willing volunteers.
Today, WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms as it has spread with travellers across the globe. There are now an estimated 100,000 WWOOFers and 15,000 hosts in 105 countries around the world.
WWOOF UK became a charity in 2008. With around 650 hosts in the UK and membership rising every year, it can't be long before the verb 'to wwoof' makes it into the Oxford English Dictionary.