As I wrote about last summer, saving our farmland is vital not only for the food it gives us and the livelihood it provides our farmers, but because it can promote and protect regional food systems, play a role in environmental quality, and provide fiscal stability to a region by boosting the economy.
It does this by contributing to a community’s infrastructure and helps a local economy through sales, job creation and support services or businesses. One of the most unique of these support services is tourism, or more specifically, agri-tourism.
Traveling to a farm provides the urban or suburban dweller with a completely different vacation experience. We get to take advantage of seeing how a farm operates without the responsibility of having to run our own farm.
There are plenty of places that people visit to see rural scenery or to enjoy the food or drink of a specific region including the wineries in California’s Napa Valley or the popular farm stays found in Europe, especially Italy.
But agritourism takes many forms and includes such diverse activities as farm tours, agricultural/historical museums, petting farms, farm markets, food festivals, pick-your-own produce farms, roadside produce stands, nurseries, greenhouses, and wineries in addition to farm stays. There are even farms that provide lots of outdoor activities to people interested in things like horseback riding, kayaking, or fishing.
Since it is the summer vacation season, you might want to consider a farm stay. The great thing about a farm stay is that it offers something for all ages and you can pick the type of farm that suits your interest and fits in with how far you want to travel.
A farm stay is just what it sounds like; you stay on a working farm. Depending on the farm, each offers a different type of accommodation and experience. Some are bed and breakfast inns; others offer rooms and/or space in the farmhouse, while others are actually converted barns or other farm buildings made into an inn or guest facility.
Some are very family friendly and provide all kinds of activities for kids, while others are only for adults and offer more of a quiet retreat. Some farm stays are operated as a working arrangement where people can come and stay and actually volunteer on a farm for a certain amount of time in exchange for food and accommodations while learning about farming.