Instead of working on your golf game, or taking a cruise, or vegging out and catching up on all of the shows in your TiVo, for your next vacation you may want to consider a more earthy and back-to-the-roots getaway instead. Take the family on a “farmstay” vacation on a real working farm and experience food, as seen from the grower’s point of view.
The farmstay movement is growing, as more people want to experience country living and see what agritourism has to offer them, whether individuals or families. Every farmstay is different, but on your days there, you might help milk cows, harvest vegetables, muck stalls, or weed garden beds. You might stack bales of hay or gather eggs from the henhouse. Or you might just hang out on the porch and eat great homegrown food three times a day…
To find a farmstay and get a taste for the farm life, there are a couple of good hubs with more information and listings:
- FarmStayUS.com: A huge number of farms are listed here, with full information, pictures, rates, maps, and contact info for each one. It’s probably the most complete resource for farmstays, and the site emphasizes how different all of these experiences can be: “We all have our unique offerings. Some are hands-on with chores; others demonstrate. Some are for families; others are adult oriented. It depends on what we do well and what we think our guests will find interesting, but usually it is about the culture of growing food that sustains us.” – FarmStayUS
- RuralBounty: This site has many listings for rural and farm visits, although most are day trips, and only some of them offer farmstay-type accommodations. “Discover the rich bounty of farm fresh fruits and vegetables, outdoor activities, and family fun that our rural countryside has to offer!”
- FarmStayAmerica.com: Much smaller and homegrown, this site still has a number of listings to explore: “Some are like B&B’s, some have cottages, some have RV/Camping spots. Some have cows you can milk, some have no animals at all. Some are “high-tech” and some are “old school,” but they all share one thing! They offer you a gracious and rural welcome to visit them…for a day or a season!”
- Feather Down Farms: Feather Down has a little different twist on farmstays – they’re more like luxury farm camping with a rustic twist – but a stay at one of their farms certainly looks appealing! “The Feather Down Farm Days tents are very spacious and comfortable with an authentic décor that recalls the hones rural life of former days. Enjoy the ambiance of the candles and oil lamps, and the long nights cuddling next to each other around the wood-burning stove.” – Feather Down
- WWOOF America: If you’re a little more adventurous, or are looking for some longer-term farm experiences, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a great resource for finding them. “One-half day of volunteer help is traded for food and accommodation, with no money exchanged. This is not paid work on farms, it is an exchange of education and culture.” With over 1300 farms and gardens listed, volunteers have a lot of choices to find place that would be a good fit.
With the new interest in country living and farmstay experiences, many farms have their own internet presence and can be found by searching for farm stays near your location.
Many states, countries, and regions also operate their own farmstay and agritourism sites, such as PA Farm Stay, Maine Farm Vacation, Farm Stay UK, EuroGites (Europe), WWOOF.org, Bienvenue à la Ferme (France), Ferien auf dem Bauernhof (Switzerland), and Terranostra (Italy).
And then, of course, there’s Google: Farm Stay