CASTELFALFI – Tuscany, Italy: Back in the days when the Medici family owned Castelfalfi, servants did the cooking and gardening. But since 2013, when the estate’s former tobacco workshop was turned into a 31-room hotel, guests have helped out in the kitchen, garden, and vineyards. Depending on the season, visitors harvest grapes for wine or olives that get pressed at the on-site mill. There are also guided foraging expeditions around the 2,700 acres to search out truffles, berries, mushrooms, and wild asparagus. It all comes together in Tuscan dishes during two-hour lessons at Rosso Toscano Cooking School, which opened last year in a castle on the estate.
BLACKBERRY FARM – Walland, Tennessee: America’s dreamiest luxury farm retreat is not in California or upstate New York, as you might expect, but on a 9,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains. No roughing it here: Rooms, cottages, and three- and four-bedroom homes all come with fireplaces and feather beds. Still, a big draw is spending time with overalls-clad master gardener John Coykendall, who tends to wax poetic about heirloom vegetables and seed saving, and with the chefs who offer cooking demonstrations in the Barn restaurant. After indulging, guests can detox with green juice and Pilates at Blackberry’s year-old Wellhouse Spa.
JIJI NO IE COUNTRY INN – Isumi, Japan: Ninety minutes east of Tokyo on the Boso peninsula, the Jiji No le Country Inn is run by U.S. photojournalist Everett Kennedy Brown and his Japanese wife, Deco Nakajima. The couple had been living on the two-acre organic farm for 15 years when, in 2013, they decided to open a six-room country inn with modern comforts. Their goal: to give visitors a taste of Japan’s agrarian lifestyle. Guests can get their hands dirty in the garden, and –in the spring – plant rice. At dinner, Nakajima uses farm-fresh ingredients to prepare a multi-course, mostly macrobiotic meal paired with locally fermented shake.