Since it came up in some threads recently, I thought I'd share my experience doing some volunteering on organic farms through http://wwoof.org/. Basically, you trade labor on a farm for training, housing, and food.
It's working out well for me to try out the self-sufficient rural ERE lifestyle to see if I like it. In addition, most of my expenses are covered and I still get to work my full-time telecommute job so I can save a lot of money. The downside is, I do nothing but work all day (7am-3pm online job, 3pm to after dark farm chores plus weekends). DH is doing chores dawn to dusk with a midday break for 3-4 hours. For now I don't mind because I'm learning new things that are completely different from my usual job (programmer). We're also living a simple, frugal lifestyle just eating from the garden with a few staples from the grocery, line-drying clothes, driving old beater pickups, etc.
Some things I've done/learned: lots of weeding, split wood for the winter, prepare grape vines for harvest, drive a tractor, can/freeze/dry food for winter, worked on the septic, build a greenhouse, scooped cow poop, sold veggies at the farmer's market, picked fruit trees, cleared/prepared beds, various pruning/watering/harvesting tasks, and generally getting a taste of what it's like to live in the country.
We're still tending more towards living in the city with a large garden eventually, but I think some of what I'm learning will translate well. I should also mention that some farms are just looking for free labor sleeping in tents to pull weeds dawn to dusk, so you won't learn as much at these places. If you're also an office-dweller hoping to escape to a more hands-on existence someday, this is a way to try it out which is working for us.