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A Different Kind of Vacation: Farm Stays

Remember my post on making cheese a couple weeks back where I said I dreamed of having goats in my backyard to make my own supply of yummy goat cheese? At the time I wrote that, it was definitely wishful thinking.

BUT, guess what I just learned about in the past couple weeks?? Farm Stays! The next best thing!

goat-1381942I first came across an article on farm stays while skimming our Mid-Atlantic Region AAA travel magazine about a month ago. And then, while visiting my parents in Kansas a couple weeks back, we just happened to watch an agricultural news show that featured a segment on farm stays.

a-cowboy-and-his-horses-1305882I felt unseen forces were speaking to me =). So of course I had to investigate further.

What is a farm stay? Basically instead of staying in a hotel, you choose to vacation at an actual working farm that supports agritourism. For example, I could stay at a farm with goats in Vermont, learn all about making goat cheese or soap while there, and still be able to visit whatever other attractions were in the area. Farm stays are a great new way for farm families to supplement their incomes, and the trend toward agritourism has been growing in the past 10 years in the U.S. so there are many different places to choose from.

So instead of Disneyland, what about visiting an alpaca farm in Colorado and learning about turning their fleece into fibers? Have the kids learn how to gather eggs or milk a cow in Lancaster, Pennsylvania? Go on a cattle drive at a working California ranch?

farm-fresh-eggs-1235249There's an amazing variety of farms, ranging from ones in the middle of nowhere to ones right next to major cities or national parks. You can decide to get in on the action on the farm by doing chores and helping with the animals or simply just observe. There are also farms where you are not supposed to do anything but absorb the bucolic scenery and chill. There's also a wide variety in the types of room arrangements, some being in the farmhouse itself, some in separate cottages or buildings, and even some options for glamping in yurts!

The primary way to find a farm stay in the U.S. is to check out the main web directories:

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Thinking about traveling a overseas? Farm stays have actually been around a lot longer in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand. Check out Responsibletravel. Imagine staying in a beautiful rustic farmhouse in Italy, Spain, or England for a different housing experience while you explore the country. After searching the site, I found many options that certainly had lots of very modern amenities and were geared for overseas travelers.

As far as options in the U.S., I did just a quick search on Farmstayus.com and below is only a sampling of the activities that you could find by staying on a farm.

Orchards: picking fruit Raising alpacas Go on a cattle drive
Vineyards: making wine Cheese making Harvest maple sugar
Beekeeping Homestyle canning/cooking Horseback riding
Birdwatching Raising chickens: collecting eggs Fishing

A vineyard landscape under a beautiful sky

The possibilities are endless and what a great experience to give kids if you've always lived in an urban or suburban environment.  They can learn a lot about where certain foods actually come from and make some unique memories at the same time. And for those of us who are perpetual learners (like we never left college), the idea of experiencing something unique and taking that knowledge home really sparks the curiosity!

Cheers! I'm off to search the site some more and plan our own trip!

 

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