Are you marking time until the job market opens up again?

Wouldn't you rather visit another part of the country or the world, learn organic farming techniques, and enjoy free room and board -- all in return for your labor?

That's the deal offered by Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms.

WWOOF.org began in the United Kingdom in 1971, matching those willing to hoe, plant and reap in return for an education on how to grow food with ecologically sound practices.

It has since spread around the world, with affiliated but independent entities on every continent except Antarctica (at the moment; with global warming, who knows?). The local WWOOF entities usually charge a small fee to both hosts and workers to support the organization.

WWOOF volunteers also have the opportunity to work in other countries, if local laws allow it. For example, WWOOF Argentina offers work at a 15 hectare farm at the foot of the Andes, or a sheep ranch near the southern tip of South America. Stays vary from a week to several months.

I haven't found any negative information about the organization. However, my impression is that WWOOF is heavily volunteer-driven. Therefore, I'd be doubly diligent about investigating opportunities, ferreting out the unsavory before committing myself, especially to international travel.

Remember one of WalletPop's golden rule$ -- free means free; otherwise it implies scam. If you're asked to pay anything beyond the modest organizational fee for your gig, look thrice.

Those farms that pass your vetting could offer a grand opportunity to expand your horizons, build up your muscles and improve your diet. Is there a better way to mark your time until the job market opens up?

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