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(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)
So, you say you care about knowing where your food comes from? Put your money (and your body) where your mouth is, and take your next summer vacation on a working farm. Called agriturismo in Italy, the level of labor involved in such farmstays can range from nil (picking some herbs for dinner, say) to gnarly (working in the fields for real). Most agriturismo opportunities include lodging and food. All give you an intimate look at food as well as a respite from city life. Start small with a stay at Sakura Ridge, near Oregon's Mount Hood; here guests can grab garden tools and learn just how much labor goes into producing and harvesting the farm’s famous organic cherries and pears. Or try a trip to the Imperial Stock Ranch in Shaniko, Oregon, and uncover a similar lesson about cattle farming via a farm tour. In Sonoma County, California, Full House Farm offers similar farm tours, while the state's Central Coast region offers a smorgasbord of rentals, lodgings, and working tours. For something a bit farther afield, enter "agriturismo" into Google and start dreaming of Tuscany. Or pick up the April/May issue of Plenty_ magazine, which includes an article on posh international cooking schools around the world; several, such as the Philo Apple Farm in California, the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, Rancho La Puerta in Mexico, and Philipkutty's Farm in India, are housed on working farms. Can't commit to a trip, but want to get your hands dirty? Check out World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms to find an organic farm near you that welcomes volunteer help.