Agritourism is a unique way to experience and learn about agriculture. Agritourism generally refers to visiting a working farm to spend some time being immersed in an agricultural experience. It lets people enjoy the first-hand experience of being on a farm while learning more about where our food comes from and how it is produced. Agritourism can be anything from going to pick your own strawberries at a strawberry patch to visiting a farm’s pumpkin patch and corn maze or taking a tour of a winery. Recently, farm stays have become a popular agritourism experience. A farm stay is when you spend the night at a farm where you lend with the farm work.
Farm stay experiences differ depending on what part of the country (or the world!) you are in because the region affects what type of animals are kept or what crops can be grown. Want to milk a goat or a cow? Interested in riding a horse or tending to animals? Looking to do chores around a farm or harvest food? There are farm stays for all of those things. Here are 5 amazing agritourism experiences to consider for your next vacation.
Willow-Witt Ranch, Ashland, Oregon
Featured in both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and called “Agritourism at its Best” by Conde Nast Traveler, farm stays at Willow-Witt Ranch offer you the chance to see organic vegetable and livestock farming on a working high mountain ranch. Take a tour of the farm, help with chores or work in the gardens, go for a hike, or simply relax and enjoy the quiet while living right on the farm. Help feed, milk, and gather eggs from the farm’s goats, chickens, ducks, and geese. Tend the vegetable garden. Then, help move the goats from one area of the farm to another in the daily goat migration.
There is more to do at the ranch than just work. There are more than three miles of hiking trails where you can explore the surrounding forests and wetlands. It is also a great spot for bird watching and has nesting pairs of Great Grey Owls. Have a picnic at the farm with fresh vegetables from the garden or, for a special treat, schedule a day hike and lunch with their friendly pack goats. At the end of the day, watch the stars come alive under a truly dark night sky.
With numerous options for overnight accommodations, from farmhouse options to tent camping, the ranch is the perfect family-friendly agritourism vacation spot. Willow-Witt Ranch is the perfect place to show your children where food comes from and how animals can be humanely and lovingly raised. They just might even spark up a friendship with some of the farm animals while you are there.
Davis Farm, Jericho, Vermont
This certified organic dairy on 242 acres of open pasture and wooded land in the countryside of Vermont is home to cows, chickens, and pigs. If milking cows, feeding calves, and gathering around the farmhouse table interests you, Davis Farm is the perfect destination. Guests are invited to be as involved in farm living as they would like with chores include milking the farm’s 85 dairy cows twice a day, stacking wood, and gathering eggs.
The farm is located just 30 minutes from some of the best skiing in the northeast and only 20 minutes from downtown Burlington, which offers shopping, dining, and local microbreweries.
Accommodations on the farm include a one-bedroom guest suite with a fully-equipped kitchen or a three-bedroom guest house with enough beds to accommodate up to six people.
Myrtle Glen Farm, Myrtle Point, Oregon
The ideal retreat far from the hustle and bustle of cities and highways, Myrtle Glen Farm is a 27-acre organic farm in the foothills of the southern Oregon coast range mountains. The farm has lush pastures with goats and alpacas, a 100-year-old conifer forest, a pond, and a clear mountain creek that runs through the property. The farmhouse is surrounded by a productive orchard, flower beds, and hand-tended vegetable gardens that produce enough food to feed hundreds of visitors farm-to-table meals every year.
Whether you want to pet goats and alpacas, wander the forest, feed ducks, or cool your feet in the mountain stream, there are plenty of opportunities at Myrtle Glen Farm to enjoy the beautiful forest and farm environment. Besides enjoying what the farm has to offer, the farm offers guests a number of vacation packages. These include tours of waterfalls and local swimming holes; hikes through the old-growth forest; fermentation workshops for cider or beer, sour kraut, kombucha, and sourdough bread; as well as a wild fungi experience where visitors learn basic mushroom biology, identification, processing, and cooking.
Myrtle Glen has bed and breakfast style accommodations, so the kitchen and dining room are communal spaces as is the east wing of the house which houses the farm’s owners. Visitors can rent just one of the three available bedrooms that each sleep two people or can rent the entire west wing of the house, which includes the three bedrooms and a loft that together sleeps up to seven people.
Kinnikinnick Farm, Caledonia, Illinois
Wildly popular, Kinnikinnick Farm is a small, family-owned, organic farm less than two hours northwest of Chicago and just a few miles south of the Wisconsin state line. The farm has been in continuous production since 1849 and the original log cabin still stands and is the central room of the farm’s nineteenth-century farmhouse. The farm is home to hogs, chickens, dairy goats, a couple of donkeys, two Katahdin sheep, various barn cats, and a pair of livestock guard dogs.
As a working farm, visitors’ participation in farm work can vary from helping with farm chores, harvesting crops, tending the farm’s garden, feeding animals, or gathering eggs. Morning chores, which usually last until near lunchtime, often involve a visit to the donkeys, feeding the chickens and pigs, collecting eggs, and milking the goats. Afternoons are then free for reading, napping, hanging out with the animals, and exploring the farm. After a relaxing afternoon, evening chores usually involve collecting eggs.
Visitors stay in comfortable and spacious wood-floored tents. Tents (which are probably like no other tent you have ever stayed in before) are fully outfitted to accommodate up to six people and feature a flush toilet, cold running water in the kitchen, and a wood-burning stove that serves for both heating and cooking. With no electricity in the tents, candles and oil lamps are used for lighting, providing a rustic experience.
Cold Creek Ranch, Clifton, Arizona
Cold Creek Ranch is a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch that produces 100% natural grass-fed beef. The ranch is “off the grid,” producing its own solar electricity. There is no television and the only way to get a cell phone to work is to go across the Black Jack Creek or around the mountain.
Cold Creek Ranch is first and foremost a working ranch and the cattle business is their mainstay, so planned activities can change in a moment’s notice if a fence is broken or a cow gets in trouble. Visitors interested in a real Western experience are welcome to join the ranch’s daily tasks, which might include riding, feeding, and shoeing horses; gathering, branding, and moving cattle; packing salt and checking water; roping and branding cattle; clearing brush and checking fences; and making jerky or prickly pear syrup. Cold Creek Ranch provides visitors a fully-involved agritourism experience.
If you would like to explore the area there are a number of interesting day trips that can be made from Cold Creek Ranch. Within a two and a half-hour drive, visitors can reach the Apache Reservation, Mt. Graham and its observatory, the largest copper mine in North America, The Catwalk in New Mexico, as well as several hot springs and ghost towns.
Accommodations are bed and breakfast style. Two upstairs bedrooms in the main house that each sleep two people are available for weekend or week-long stays that include three farm-to-table meals a day featuring their own grass-fed beef, eggs, and in-season vegetables from the garden.
An increasingly popular and growing opportunity for both farmers and vacationers, agritourism comes in many shapes and sizes. Even farm stays vary from farm to farm with some being more vacation-like and others involving visitors more in the day-to-day workings of the farm. To find a farm stay experience near you, Farm Stay USA has a searchable database of farms all across the United States. Search by area or by experience type (think, “I want to milk a cow,” or “I want to ride a horse”) and find the perfect agritourism experience for your next vacation.
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