A Farm Vacation

I just came back from a trip to France with a wish: what if American farmers went into the tourism business?

Imagine comfortable accommodations in quiet, picturesque country settings, where vacationers awaken to the stirring of farm animals, take their children to witness the milking of the goats or cows, receive gardening tips from experts, explore the surrounding hiking trails and, at the end of the day, enjoy the produce–the cooking even–of their hosts. All this, and more, for a significant lower rate than if staying at a hotel or in a regular vacation rental. Farmers would enjoy an extra source of income while exposing the public to their work and lifestyle. Families would be given affordable access to a vacation filled with healthy, possibly life-changing, experiences.

This is precisely what the organization Accueil Paysan has been promoting in France since 1987. From the onset, their aim has been to connect producers and consumers with a clear view to build wide public support for sustainable farming practices.

You read this right : in order to join the Accueil Paysan network, farmers must abide by a strict charter that defines their mission towards the public, including the kind of farming they practise. This charter requires them to uphold the ten principles of Agriculture Paysanne that lie at the root of the Confédération Paysanne, a French farming union co-founded in 1987 by José Bové and affiliated with Via Campesina, a global coalition of over 148 organizations that advocates family-farm-based sustainable agriculture.

These principles are:

1. Limited scale of production so as to allow more farmers to enter the market and make a living

2. Solidarity between farmers

3. Respect for Nature

4. Focus on abundant resources while sparing scarce resources

5. Transparency throughout the food supply chain

6. Quality of the products (with regard to both taste and safety)

7. Maximum autonomy of each unit of production

8. Partnerships among rural actors

9. Protection and promotion of the diversity of crops and animals

10. Long-term and global thinking

It should be noted that abiding by these principles, and being granted the Accueil Paysan label, is unrelated to sporting the organic farming label Certifié Agriculture Biologique given by the French government (aligned on European regulations since last year, this label has become even less constraining than it used to be).

I was encouraged to learn that Accueil Paysan has become a global story, with more than 1,000 members in 24 countries from Chili to India. Members provide diverse forms of services on top of the traditional rentals/B&B/camping, including hosting kids camps. They’re currently exploring opportunities to welcome school children on day trips, as well as developing partnerships with local authorities to receive youth-at-risk for extended stays.

I know that some farms in America are taking similar initiatives on an individual basis, like Full Belly Farm. But how about organic farmers organizing to present this country’s urban and suburban crowds with a powerful and irresistible invitation to come their way and make their acquaintance? The sustainable farming movement would surely benefit and, with it, the health of the people and of the planet.

Related Links:
Seed Bombs: Change for Change
Bring the Farm to the School
7 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Own Food

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Susan Weihofen
Susan Weihofen4 years ago

Great program, needs to be started here for sure

Deanne W.
Deanne Walker4 years ago

I think it's important for people, especially children, to learn the how's and where's of what they eat. I was surprised to learn at a visit to my sons' preschool last year that many kids have no idea what a real carrot looks like or where it comes from! When asked, most of them said 'from a can' or 'the store'! And what fun to be outside, digging the dirt and caring for a plant to fruition! This is an awesome idea!

minkie amoroso
minkie amoroso4 years ago

I had the HONOR of staying with an AMISH Family on their farm one year! I can't tell you the fun, adventure, work and the HISTORY was incredible!!!!

As a teen, I spent my summers on a farm and that was GREAT!!!!! NO TORTUE, NO CRUELTY, Just healthy farm animals and produce.

Hester Goedhart
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

Hands on practical/educational wholesome fun, all city dwellers should have this experience at least once in their lifetime!

Laetitia Mailhes
Laetitia Mailhes5 years ago

All of you interested in a vacation on a U.S. farm, check out http://www.farmstayus.com/

This new website was brought to my attention by Michelle Nowak--she writes a blog called The Farm Stay Project at http://farmstays.blogspot.com/. Thanks Michelle!

jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago


Charlene S.
Charla D.5 years ago


Charlene S.
Charla D.5 years ago

There are a number of family farm/B&Bs in the U.S. My husband and I had the pleasure of staying at one in Marshfield, Vermont a few years ago, Hollister Hill Farm. We started the day with a breakfast made from their own veggies and eggs and then had the option of helping out or observing the various chores. Please note, it's an option, you can just sleep in or go antique shopping if you want! We chose to go for the full farm experience. It was great fun!

BROOKE W.5 years ago


Sharon Beth L.
Sharon Beth Long5 years ago

This is an old concept. In addition to "dude ranches" in the 1930s fourties fifties and sixties people stayed at "Kukulanes" (a Yiddish term), in the New York State Catskill mountains tourist bungalows on farms where people did there own cooking. This helped some small farmers who otherwise would have to move off the land as agribusiness gradually took priority.