World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Wwoof) is an international network of farmers who offer room and board in exchange for the labor of travelers such as myself. It spans the globe, from the Americas and New Zealand (where it’s hugely popular), to Europe and Turkey (where I visited an apple orchard two years ago). Visits can last as little as a week, or as much as six months, depending on your skills, your schedule and your relationship with your host. And except for a modest fee to join each country’s branch, Wwoof-ing is free.
The French Wwoof database (15 euros; wwoof.fr) listed hundreds of farms in every region, each of which offered its own enticements. There was an ancient stone wall that needed repairing in Bouleternère, olive trees to tend in Valbonne, and even yoga and qi gong in Fontvieille. I chose the Sarthes’ farm because they described themselves as gourmets and because their farm was in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France, which is reputed to have some of the country’s best food.