We worked four half-days for our room and board at Maggie's (not her real name) Farm in the hills of the Massif des Maures--a half-wild region in the heart of Provence. We found this farm through the WWOOF network (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). To stay for a month in France, we needed some cost-effective opportunities like this. We both like to dig into the life of a place that we're visiting and doing a bit of work isn't a burden--especially since it means you can eat as much as you want while on vacation...
We spent a couple of days planting a few hundred leggy tomato transplants (Coeur de Boeuf) into a hoop house, with something like Reemay over the top to allow rainwater in and plastic along the bottom on each side to keep the wind at bay.
The tomato plants will be trellised up a string attached to the ceiling of the hoophouse. We shovelled in compost (from a donkey stable next door) and organic fertilizer (3-6-6) before planting.
Here's a view of the farm from above--a couple of greenhouses, a pond of captured rain water from an intermittent stream and the farm house on the left. Our second 'petite maisonette' on the right (more about that later). view is looking south toward the Mediterranean.
The view looking west up the slope. Top of that hill is a view of the Med and the Alps.
Chris washing some mizuna in the mudroom/pantry/wash-house of the farm house. She's getting this crop ready to be loaded into panniers for Maggie's customers--sort of a CSA or Commnity Supported Agriculture, where the families buy a weekly box of vegetables directly from the farmer.
Below are a few crops already in the ground when we arrived: fennel, leaf lettuces and squash in flower. This was some of the richest soil we saw in Provence--loose, loamy, dark brown and organic.
Below, Chris is putting the finishing touches on a series of pea trellises we set up for Sugar Snap peas. We drove some 3' stakes cut from pine trees every 6 or 7 feet and slipped the trellis netting over the stakes and looped them if necessary to keep the tension tight.
We worked each morning after breakfast til lunch and then walked up a hill or along a dirt road for the afternoon. The air smelled of the aromatic plants--lavender, wild arugula, myrtle, curry, santolina, thyme.