My friend Morgan and I have a lot of fantasies about farm life. Most of these revolve around a big, rustic-looking wooden table out back of delightfully vintage farmhouse, where our imaginary children and husbands gather with all our imaginary local farm friends for big Sunday brunches amongst the flowering fruits of our gardens. Sometimes there are also campfire sing-a-longs, and sometimes lemonade on porches. Um, yeah: Clearly neither Morgan nor I have spent much time on actual farms.
For city-slicker (or suburban) types with similarly farm-minded fantasies, why not skip the beach/ski-lodge/in-laws’ house this summer in favor of some rural rejuvenation? The New York Times reports on the increasing number of small farmers turning to “agritourism” to make ends meet.
Farm stay experiences can vary greatly. Some farms host more-or-less traditional bed-and-breakfasts, while others provide visitors more of a chance to get their hands dirty. But whether you want to milk a cow yourself or just enjoy some raw milk, a farm stay can give you a cool sense of perspective on what rural living is really like (probably not all backyard brunches and lemonade), what goes into producing the food you purchase at the supermarket and what truly fresh food tastes like.
Depending on where you go for your “haycation,” you may be able to help with farm work, take cooking classes, buy goods made on the farm, ride horses, pick your own fruits, vegetables or flowers or engage in all sorts of other activities antithetical to urban life (even if that’s just disconnecting from your smart phone and staring at the sky).
To find your perfect agritourist option, check out:
- Farm Stay U.S., which provides info on farm and ranch stays across the United States
- Farm Stay UK, which provides info on farm stays in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), a database of places worldwide where you can trade labor for farm lodging
- Rural Bounty, which allows you to locate places for day trips or longer stays at farms in Canada and the U.S. based on farm product, things to do there, etc.