WACO – In 27-year-old Chris Becker’s cramped New York City apartment building, neighbors rarely greeted one another beyond a head nod or a grunt.

Mr. Becker, a chef, spent 2 and a half hours commuting every day and worked up to 80 hours a week in a restaurant where chicken with sage, sangiovese, schiacciata and carrots went for $90.

Now he’s given it all up to harvest vegetables in the hot Texas sun – without pay.

Mr. Becker and his wife, Amanda Becker, 28, are spending the summer on an organic farm near Waco run by World Hunger Relief, a nonprofit that provides free dormlike housing and food to young volunteers in exchange for their labor.

And it’s not just the Beckers. Twenty-somethings across the country are fleeing the cities and suburbs to volunteer on organic farms.

World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms-USA, one of the best-known organizations matching volunteers with organic farms, quintupled its membership between 2003 and 2007. Last year, it had 2,643 volunteers, including 59 from Texas.

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