I had the pleasure of visiting Airlie Farms Bed and Breakfast and meeting the wonderful hostess Nancy Petterson. When I arrived she invited me in for coffee and one of her delicious homemade pear muffins as she prepared breakfast for her guests. “This has been the most delightful version of going to grandma’s house” one of the guests said as they were finishing up breakfast. I couldn’t agree more, Nancy is a kind, warm and welcoming woman that makes you feel right at home. As the breakfast ended and the guests began packing up their things I prepared for a memorable interview and farm tour with Nancy.
Nancy and her husband Joe purchased the 226 acre farm 23 years ago and have offered their home as a bed and breakfast for a little over eight years. Their remodeled 1910 farm house offers a comfortable and cozy, yet luxury, stay. Their working Quarter Horse farm sits on beautiful rolling hills with spectacular views across some of Oregon’s richest farm country. Nancy takes pride in and has over 60 years’ experience as a quarter horse breeder. She also enjoys gardening and canning fresh produce. Her hope is to start offering bread making or canning classes so guests have something to take home with them.
As I took my shoes off and stepped in the house I was welcomed by the Petterson’s friendly farm dog, Molly, who just wanted to be pet and have her belly rubbed. We were friends for the remainder of my visit.
With single, double, suite and family accommodations available, guests have many options from which to choose. Because the house is more tailored to adults and older children, the Pettersons recently completed the Airlie Family Cottage for families with young children.
Does waking up to grandmas homemade country style breakfast with freshly brewed coffee and your choice of frittata with cheese, potatoes, farm bacon and sausage, spiced peach parfait, scones, and fresh squeezed juice sound exactly how a vacation morning should be? Breakfast is served in the main house for all guests, large and small.
The Airlie Family Cottage is perfect for families with children and has basic cooking accommodations, refrigerator, and a loft that kids love.
Aside from the wonderful accommodations, there are 226 acres to explore and family friendly farm animals abound. From guided rides, lessons in the arena, playing with the goats and chickens, or gathering your own eggs, there is plenty to enjoy and experience right here on the farm.
After the interview, Nancy took me out on the Gator to tour the farm and, of course, Molly had to join us. From one of the goats putting my ear in its mouth as I was taking a photo of another, to Barney the donkey chasing after us for the hay in the back of the Gator, to enjoying the spectacular views from the top of the hill, I’d say I had quite the farm experience during my visit.
If you decide to wander off the farm there are plenty of local attractions from which to choose. Airlie Farm sits in wine country so take a trip over to one of the vineyards for a bottle of wine and some tastings. Many hunters and judges stay as guests for the nearby Luckiamute Valley Pheasant hunting. Hunters and guests are welcome to bring dogs if they are leashed or in crates. There are also plenty of places to go hiking, fishing, birding, and visit covered bridges. Families with children may find themselves taking a short trip to Salem’s Riverfront Park or A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village to enjoy family-fun activities and a hands-on children’s museum with interactive exhibits.
In my short visit to Airlie Farm Bed and Breakfast I was able to appreciate what the guests had to say about their experience and how Nancy interacted with them. I don’t think one guest left without making sure they gave Nancy a hug and thanking her for a wonderful time and an amazing experience.
“You make us feel right at home.”
“She’s a great host.”
“You make people feel comfortable and relaxed.”
“We came downstairs and she’s making breakfast and then we look outside and she’s out driving the tractor (gator) around feeding the horses and animals. Nancy does it all.”
“I think I may move in here.”
“We’re packing up and then I’m giving you a big ol’ hug.”
“We miss you and this place already.”
My last question I asked Nancy was what she enjoyed most about the farm, Bed and Breakfast and living this lifestyle. She responded with “Well, I love it all. I thought the quarter horse business was my entire life until I went off with the B and B. I thought, why didn’t I start this out when I was 30, instead of 200. It’s wonderful. I love my horses, but I can’t be out there as much. Every guest is special.”
It was a great pleasure meeting Nancy, touring the farm and meeting the farm animals. Nancy truly has the “gift of hospitality” and if you have the chance to visit the beautiful state of Oregon I recommend a stay at Airlie Farm to experience it all for yourself.
For more information and reservations please visit Airlie Farm’s profile, the Airlie Farm Bed and Breakfast website or Booking and Questions.
Photo Credit: Airlie Farm, Anthony Mugica - USFSA
Grand View Farm was one of the earliest farms in the town of Washington, dating back to its initial purchase in 1794. Since then, it has passed through two other families and was finally purchased in 2004 by today’s owners the Goodling family. As the fourth family to own the farm, they have made substantial efforts to reestablish some of its agricultural history. Today, the farm’s main focus is fiber animals. The Goodlings also offer a Bed and Breakfast Farm Stay in their 19th century farmhouse. Enjoy a farm fresh organic breakfast of local foods and the farm’s own pure Vermont maple syrup, then spend some time exploring the beautiful Green Mountains and taking one of the classes offered at Grand View.
The Farmhouse Family Suite offers a warm and welcoming step back in history. With hand hewn exposed beams, wide wood paneling and antique four poster beds, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in this antique home setting. This two bedroom suite comes with a cozy wood stove, gas grill, candle lit dinners, plush robes, and modern conveniences to make you feel right at home.
Wake up to a farm fresh breakfast, then make your way outside to the porch for a relaxing and beautiful view overlooking the Green Mountains. If you feel up for it, you’re more than welcome to lend a hand with some of the farm chores. Seeking more adventure? Ask about one of the tours the farmers have put together for their guests, including excursions for cheese lovers, covered bridges, local foodies and outdoor enthusiasts.
Grand View Farms main focus is raising Romney sheep for their superb fiber. Through proper practices in keeping a closed flock, practicing biodiversity, and maintaining a nutritional balance the Goodlings are better able to prevent disease and control parasites from entering their flock. They also have llamas and angora rabbits on the farm. The llamas act as guardians for the sheep and provide a unique fiber. The bunnies love their morning treats of fresh vegetables and fruits. Their fiber is spun into a soft yarn.
Dedicated to high breeding standards Grand View Farm offers lovely, quality woolen goods for you and your home. The Goodling family prides itself for carrying on the traditional arts of knitting, weaving and spinning. For more information on the products produced on the farm, please visit their Grand View Farm Store.
If you want to expand your farm experience and knowledge take advantage of one of the multiple classes taught right there on the farm. From using locally grown plants as a natural dye to creating your own felted clasp purse or even working on a project of your own, Grand View Farm offers a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere perfect for working on your art projects.
For more information and reservations visit their Farm Stay Profile, Grand View Farm Website and Facebook page.
Photo Credit: Grand View Farm
Welcoming, comfortable and green; three words that describe Perry Family Farm quite well. Originally from England, the Perry family moved to Vermont for the rural lifestyle. They purchased farm land and started building what is now a beautiful farm house on a working farm. Their goal is to produce locally grown food for their community and provide a memorable experience for their guests all while embracing good environmental practices. This small diverse farm can be found nestled in the Green Mountains of Central Vermont.
Perry Family Farm offers a fully equipped one bedroom apartment with modern conveniences. There is also the option of a bunk bed in the main living area for children and another room on the top floor with a private bathroom. One of the greatest treats of their apartment is the beautiful view from the private deck and upstairs bedroom.
No matter which season you’re planning your next getaway, you’ll find enjoyment here at Perry Family Farm. Come in spring and you’ll get to see and play with the new piglets, lambs and calves in the field. Summers offer fresh farm cooked BBQs, garden produce, warm evenings and starlit nights. Does waking up to a brisk and colorful autumn morning sound like the perfect getaway? Then you’ve found a great place to enjoy the chilled mornings and beautiful fall foliage. If snow shoeing, skiing and a warm and cozy romantic night in is your ideal vacation then Vermont’s snow covered winters and a stay at Perry Family Farm should be next on your list.
Perry Family Farm offers a variety of meats and produce for purchase including pork, lamb, beef, chicken, duck, goose, guinea fowl, eggs, honey, pullets and preserves.
Eco-friendly, relaxing and country charm are just a few reasons guests appreciate a stay at the Perry Family Farm.
“The Perry Farm is absolutely beautiful! Plenty of warm water, heat, wonderful kitchen for cooking, and they provided delicious Vermont coffee and milk. A nice scenic drive through the back roads of Warren and you're at Sugarbush.” – Rachel
“I cut the duck into parts, slow roasted the carcass for about 2 hours to render the fat out. Then I cooked the legs and the wings slow and low until the meat was falling off the bone. There is nothing better than duck cooked in its own fat. Then I pan seared the breast, finished them in the oven to medium rare and served with a blood orange, ginger, balsamic reduction. Served the whole thing with fresh steamed green beans and a medley of roasted carrots, parsnips and butternut squash. You would have been proud. It was fantastic!” – Rebecca
“We loved staying on James and Laura's farm -- only wish the stay could have been longer! The apartment was so comfortable with a great gas range stove, big refrigerator, plenty of living space and an ultra-comfy bed. We had access to their veggie garden and they provided us with farm eggs, coffee & bread for breakfast.” - Julia
For more information and reservations visit the Perry Family Farm Stay profile or their website.
Photo Credit - Perry Family Farm
Just south of Grass Valley, Oregon lies the spacious and relaxing Justesen Ranch. Located on beautiful Oregon farm country, Justesen Ranch offers a wide range of outdoor activities. With six cozy and welcoming cabins surrounded by nature and wildlife you’ll wake up every morning with acres to explore.
Justesen Ranch Recreation offers six lovely cabins to choose from; great for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation to getaway and unwind.
White River Lodge – Accommodating up to eight guests, this three bedroom two bath rock and log cabin is great for the whole family. There’s also a patio where concerts occasionally take place near White River.
Barn Between the Rivers – This refitted barn comfortably sleeps six guests and has a recreation room with a pool table and shuffleboard court. It’s located in Tygh Valley and sits between two flowing creeks.
Davis House – This small farmhouse can sleep up to six guests with a living room, kitchen, one indoor bathroom and an old-fashion outhouse. With 10 fishing lakes nearby, this cabin is a popular choice among fishing enthusiasts.
Grass Valley House – Big game hunting, lake fishing and waterfowl hunting activities are all within a short drive from this cabin. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms this cabin is perfect for friends and family.
Trout Lake Lodge – This restored hand hewed log home has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, dining area and living room. It can sleep up to 9 adults and is great for group getaways. It’s located at Trout Lake, Washington and the foot of Mt. Adams.
The Grainery – Located five miles southwest of Grass Valley, this small fishing cabin is near two very popular fly fishing lakes and can accommodate up to four adults.
Justesen Ranch has a number of outdoor recreation activities available for their guests including: hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, trail riding, farm tours and bird watching.
There are plenty of rivers, creeks and lakes in the area for trout and bass fishing. You’ll need to bring your own fishing equipment and all fishing in the area is catch-and-release. If you’re interested they will gladly provide guide services. Justesen Ranch offers guided deer, duck, geese and a variety of other animal hunting excursions. They also provide trail riding services throughout beautiful White River Canyon and Tygh Valley that take you through forests, canyons and rivers. You have the option to bring your own horses or ride one of their friendly steeds.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and looking for an adventurous vacation Justesen Ranch is a must stay if you’re in the beautiful state of Oregon. For more information and reservations you can look through their Farm Stay profile, Justesen Ranch Recreation website and Contact Information.
Photo Credit: Justesen Ranch
A farm that began in 1786 is still being run today, seven generations later, by Frank and Sherry Hull and their sons. The Hull-O Farm and family have dedicated over 200 years to their farming heritage and have been recognized by New York State as a National Bicentennial Farm. With hundreds of acres under cultivation, they grow forage for their own livestock and provide feed for wildlife that often can be seen from their wrap around porch they've recently added to their farmhouse.
Accommodating to friends and families, Hull-O Farms and Family Farm Vacations offer three private guest houses. Guests have the option to share the family farm experience and join for a country-style breakfast, dinner or dessert in their 19th-century upstate New York farmhouse. Most guests don’t pass up on all you can eat buttermilk pancakes that melt in your mouth, farm fresh produce and all natural grass fed meats. You’re also invited to hayrides for the whole family, fishing in their farm pond and bonfires with s’mores under the starlit sky. For more information and frequently asked questions you can visit their FAQ section of their website.
(The Rose) - A short walk from the barns is this inviting two bedroom country home. It’s equipped with a full kitchen, full bath and living room with fully finished pine floors (lumber used was harvested from their own forests).
(The Austin, named after Grandpa Hull) – Located on the hill at the very edge of their 300 acre farm you’ll find their country chalet with a private floor just for you. This two bedroom home comes with a full bath, living and dining area. There is no formal kitchen, but a microwave and small refrigerator are provided. Make your way up to the 32-foot second story deck overlooking their scenic Durham Valley, an image you will cherish long after your visit.
(The Gifford, named after Grandma Hull) – This two story four bedroom country-style home is walking distance from the barns with a deck that overlooks their grazing cattle in the meadows. Equipped with a full kitchen, full bath, sun porch and living room the Gifford makes a fantastic stay for the whole family.
A farm stay at Hull-O Farms isn't just a vacation; it’s an educational experience for you and the whole family. Don’t worry learning on the farm is fun! Adults and children love the hands-on experience they receive interacting with farm animals and helping with daily chores. Did you know that you hold the bottle differently when feeding baby goats than you do for lambs?
The Hull-O family love having guests, but so do their farm friends. You’ll get to meet and interact with a number of farm animals: Cattle, heritage pigs, pot-bellied pig, jersey calf, goats, lambs, turkeys, ducklings, red deer, horses and even cuddly kittens and puppies.
Life on the farm isn’t all work and no play. After chores are finished there are plenty of downtime activities from hay rides, a mystery corn maze and badminton to hammock resting, nature walks and relaxing around the campfire.
If you plan to venture off the farm, there are a number of nearby attractions. Ranked among Americas top five “show caves”, Howe Caverns is only a 45 minute drive away. If water parks are your thing, Zoom Flume, New York’s #1 family water park is just a minute drive from the farm. Horseback riding, cruises, shopping, casinos and many historic attractions are also fun options for Hull-O Farm guests.
Plan your next farm and family adventure at Hull-O Farms. For more information and booking visit the following: Hull-O Farm Website,Farm Stay Profile,Reservations.
Photo Credit: Hull-O Farms
Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm lies on twelve acres of farm land located 10 miles from Daytona Beach in beautiful Port Orange, Florida. The owners, Fran and Vern, have lived there for about 15 years now. They had been talking about raising alpacas for a long time, but it wasn’t until eight years ago that they decided to go for it and purchased over 100 alpacas. “They are the sweetest animals,” Fran said during our phone interview. You could tell by the sincerity in her voice that she and her family love what they do. Now, as a family run full service alpaca farm they pride themselves in educating their many visitors about Alpacas and creating a farm experience they won’t forget.
Alpaca farming is still fairly new in the United States, but the industry is rapidly gaining popularity. Native to South America, alpacas are used for meat, leather and fiber; however, in the United States they’re solely used for their fiber material, fleece. At Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm they carefully raise and breed their alpacas to ensure the best possible genetics. They offer alpacas for sale and a variety of fiber products.
Chantilly Ridge Alpacas are involved in a number of events, tours and community oriented activities giving you multiple options to learn more about the farm, get to know the local farmers and gain the farm experience. Located out in the country, but only a few miles to I-95, Chantilly offers a great place to get away from it all but still gives the option of visiting Florida’s many tourist attractions.
They are involved at multiple farmers markets, one every Thursday at the local Port Orange market and another every Saturday. You can also find them at the county fair, which they are invited to participate in for the whole ten days of the event. Volusia County also puts together a free farm tour in November where guests can visit multiple participating farms and ranches and meet the local farmers who provide the tour of their farms. Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm had over 350 visitors during last year’s county farm tour. They also love giving back to the community with visits from children groups, schools, churches and boy and girl scouts. The scouts love to camp out in their pasture!
If you desire a more personable experience, Chantilly Ridge Farm offers a Farm Stay that has room for up to six guests. With a king suite and the option of a twin bedroom with a joint bathroom, it’s great for couples or family getaways. They also have a pool and pool house for relaxing or family fun. They are currently in the planning stages of turning their pool house into a one bedroom apartment to expand their farm stay options.
With chickens, two pot belly pigs, a donkey, ducks, bunnies and of course alpacas this farm has a variety of farm animals for kids and families to enjoy and play with!
You can enjoy a peaceful farm getaway and still enjoy the many attractions Florida has to offer. From the sand between your toes and family fun beach activities, to adventure tours and wildlife sighting to community events and nightlife, you’ll find it all in the beautiful state of Florida.
For more information visit Chantilly Ridge's Website or Farm Stay Site. For booking information call Fran or Vern at 386-767-0577
Photo Credit: (Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm, Visit Florida)
Four miles south of Galena, completely surrounded by 500ft ridges and away from bright city lights and traffic you’ll find Ruth and Frank Netzel’s working Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm. Sitting on 45 secluded acres their farm has 12 hand-made log cabins perfect for a relaxing getaway. The farm's central location makes for an easy trip to tour the Mississippi River and Casper Bluff.
Local experts in relaxing, Ruth and Frank invite you to come and do the same! Experience beautiful sights, spectacular sunsets, soothing sounds and smells of nature and their star lit sky at night all in one stay at Adventure Creek Farm.
Each cabin is 800+ square feet. With queen beds on each main floor, a double bed in the loft, a gas log fireplace and a large separate bathroom with a double whirlpool bathtub you get to call this warm and cozy cabin your home for the duration of your stay. Their cabins offer the rustic look and feel with modern conveniences including: satellite TV, refrigerator, microwave and central heating. At night take a look out the four foot skylight and enjoy the night sky illuminated with stars.
Cabins are all hand-chinked hewn logs of cedar and red pine with pine floors and ceilings. Major parts are constructed without nails and loft beams are exposed to give a natural feel and cabin experience.
The Netzel’s love showing and answering any questions their visitors have about their alpacas. Their quiet, friendly and curious nature makes them great with families and children. Upon arrival and throughout your visit these alpacas are here to welcome and entertain you. You also have the option of hand feeding or taking them for a walk, which tend to be farm favorite activities for both the guests and alpacas.
Ruth and Frank also raise and breed goldendoodles, which are hybrid dogs. They breed male golden retrievers with female poodles to create these adorable, loyal and lovable dogs. If you’d like you can check out one of their litters of 11 puppies from this short video available Goldendoodle Pups Video.
If you happen to visit in the early spring, morel mushrooms pop up for a few weeks. They go for about $75 per pound at your produce market! Yes, guests have found them on their property and yes guests are allowed to pick them as long as they tell the owners where they found them.
Adventure Creek Farm offers a number of activities on and close by their property. From hiking the winding creek that passes through their 45 acres and enjoying nature and wildlife along the way to touring the nearby Mississippi River, Casper Bluffs and local wineries and towns.
Famous for its beautiful fall colors and rolling hills, storybook winters and star gazing and adventure seeking springs and summers, Jo Daviess County and Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm is the perfect destination for anytime of the year.
Adventure Creek Alpaca & Goldendoodle Farm have had guests from all over the world with nothing but good things to say.
"Having the opportunity to meet you during our trip was one of the more remarkable moments of it. You both are kind and pleasant folks. If someday you drop by our country, give us a call! Best regards," E. E. M. & H - Brazil
"What a superb place for a family celebration. Frank & Ruth, a very big thank you for your hospitality. A memorable weekend. We will travel back to England with fond memories." T, C, P & A - England
"This place is a wonderful getaway! Our time here was too short. We danced under the moonlight, got cozy by the bonfire, fed the alpacas, and breathed in the fresh air --- rejuvenated our souls. Thank you to Ruth & Frank for providing this great experience. Looking forward to visiting again. Good things..." C & B – US
"We want to appreciate you for all your kindness! The cabin is beautiful; it's so cozy and warm, I felt like I'm at home. We had great breakfast; it was so nice of you to bring that lovely basket with food! The cabins are close to ski resort where we spent unbelievable day of snowboarding." O, A, A, V & Z – Lativa & Moldova
For more information and reservations visit their Farm Stay Site or website Galena Log Cabins and if you’ve already made your decision you can Book Now. From relaxing getaways to family vacations to couples retreats, Adventure Creek Farm Stay and its surrounding areas offer a destination for just about anyone.
Photo Credit: (Adventure Creek Alpaca & Goldendoodle Farm, Galena Log Cabins, Galena.org)
Rustridge Winery & Ranch is the getaway from getaways as one of their guests called it. Rustridge is a vineyard, winery, thoroughbred racehorse ranch and a bed and breakfast. Just 20 minutes from Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, the once large racehorse ranch is now a combination of the owners, Jim and Susan’s, two passions wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and have over 20 years of experience producing award winning wine.
Cooler nights and higher elevation allow for a later harvest than most grapes in Napa Valley which gives the distinct quality and flavor you’ll have to try and enjoy for yourself!
Rustridge Ranch & Winery is known for their organically grown grapes and award winning wine. They offer a variety of wines through their Rustridge, Racehorse and Library selections including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The Rustridge wines are their current barrel selected premium wines that bring out the best elements of the Chiles Valley. Their Racehorse selection includes their everyday wines. The Racehorse Red is a blend of Zinfandel and Carbenet and the white is a Chardonnay with a touch of oak. A collection of both Rustridge and Racehorse wines make up their aged Library wines. More information on their selections, wine purchases and Rustridge Wine Club memberships can be found at their website (Rustridge.com).
In order to exercise the young horses they run them through the vineyard aisles. Fifty acres stretching down the valley make for a great run. For strength, they run the horses up and down the steep hills that ring their valley.
When visiting the ranch, make sure you take advantage of the wine tasting, property tour and the many other activities they have to offer. The tastings are by appointment so make sure you plan ahead of time and reserve a spot (Schedule Your Tastings). If you’d like, you can learn about breeding and training horses or the process of growing grapes and making wine. Another option is to take a hike through the vineyard and the surrounding hills and enjoy beautiful views and bird watching or bring a bottle of wine, set up a picnic and just relax.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you’ve found it. The Rustridge Bed & Breakfast offers a sunlit breakfast room with a ranch-style breakfast to start off the day right. Tennis, hiking, barbequing and other fun farm activities are available throughout the day. Take the edge off lounging in the sun by the pool or relaxing in the eucalyptus sauna. Then gather in the country kitchen for an evening of Rustridge wine sampling and hors d’oeuvres.
The B & B offers several options for overnight stays including bedrooms with comfortable queen size featherbeds, private bathrooms, adjoining rooms, beautiful views and direct access to the pool and sauna. For more information and availability look at their options here (Rustridge Bed & Breakfast).
It’s hard to beat a nice warm and cozy fireplace in the bedroom, a private deck looking out over some amazing views and access to a relaxing sauna. Add a bottle of wine and you’ll think you’ve found paradise.
Your getaway from getaways is here at Rustridge Ranch and Winery. For more information on the ranch and booking information here is a link to their Farm Stay profile.
Photo Credit: Rustride Ranch & Winery
Over the July 4th weekend this year, a young friend came to visit the farm. He'd been following my Instagram account for a while, and was looking forward to seeing the animals and participating in a few of the chores... a big departure from his day-to-day life as a suburban kid from Southern California.
As we prepared to walk through the loafing shed and let the sheep out into the pasture for the day, he asked me to tell him what was poop, so he could avoid stepping in it.
"It's ALL poop," was my (unhelpful?) reply.
The boy gazed down at his shoes for a moment, then shrugged and followed me out.
Real talk? It's all poop. And mud and itchy straw and blood that accompanies not just wounds but birth. It's tender plants burnt by the sun, and hay fields ruined by unexpected rain. Or, you know, plants nourished by rain and haystacks perfectly dried by the sun.
Why are we having some real talk here? Recent articles in Grist and Modern Farmer claim that agritourism is romanticizing farming to a degree that becomes harmful to the sustainability of our small farms. Both articles focus heavily on farm weddings and professional photographs of brides and grooms lounging in straw (itchy! sneezy!), and how dirty and smelly a farm can be. The Modern Farmer writer bemoans "the glorification of the quaint farm aesthetic". That's pretty funny coming from a magazine that sells a twelve dollar jam spatula and limited edition muck boots in their online store.
Both writers seem to be implying that a farmer cannot be both grower and hostess, while maintaining the integrity of her farming operation.
The Grist writer says she tries not to idealize in her writing, concerned that a pretty picture of farm life does a disservice to the visitor or reader, hiding the financial, social, and environmental complexities of farming. We think a farmer's story should be an honest one, yes, but we also believe that diversifying income for small farms only makes sense. The old idiom "don't put all your eggs in one basket" comes to mind. Weddings, overnight guests, and farm-to-table dinners are simply another chapter in the farmer's story. That would be the chapter where the farmer gets to keep the farm because he's not depending solely on good market prices for his products.
Back to the weddings for a minute. COME ON. We aren't immune to gently poking fun at photos that show very clean people performing farming chores, but wedding photographs are always quixotic and romantic. WEDDING. It doesn't matter if the event takes place in a barn or on a beach (yuck, all that sand everywhere), the photographs are going to be pretty and golden-hued. That's what a bride wants, and that's what a venue wants to show future guests. It's memory, and promise, and beauty in the rustic, and should a farmer apologze for providing a setting that people want?
Photos of brides kicking up their cowboy-booted heels with just a touch of lens-flare halo kissing the hay field... well, we say that's as legitimate a story as unrelenting blood and mud. And smells. Yes, sometimes the actual experience includes the aroma of livestock wafting over the newlyweds and their guests. That's real.
We've been working on Farm Stay U.S. (now known as the U.S. Farm Stay Association) for four years now. It's been our experience that most farm stay guests are disabused of lingering notions of romantic farm life once they see the hard (smelly, dirty) work that goes into growing produce and livestock. But they still love their time on the farm. Many return year after year, happy to visit and learn and lend a hand. They're happy that their vacation dollars are infused into a rural economy.
They keep their romantic views of the peace and quiet, the stars at night. They gain an understanding of the cycle of life and death and an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us every day. Farm stay owners want to share this with urbanite travelers because we think that what we have is pretty special - even all that compost. Er... poop.
Nearly a mile high in the Southern Cascades, 440 acre Willow-Witt Ranch offers an experience you won’t forget. Whether you’re there for the spectacular views, a family-friendly farm stay full of activities, an event hosted on the ranch, or simply to just get away and relax, you’ll find it all at this off-grid ranch.
Through sustainable agricultural and forest management, energy independence, and wetland restoration, Willow-Witt Ranch has created quite the traveler’s dream of a rural getaway. This family-friendly ranch is a great place to bring friends and the kids along, but also offers a peaceful secluded location for couples and adults who just want to get away from it all.
Before Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt took over stewardship and named their Willow-Witt Ranch, dairy cows and beef cattle grazed this ranch valley for more than 100 years. Restoration included fencing livestock out of critical wetland habitat, prioritizing forest planting and re-growth, and practicing sustainable farm management. In 2009 the ranch was recognized with the Watershed Friendly Steward Award. For a more in-depth history of the ranch, you can visit its website here (Ranch History)
The ranch offers an array of goods, including farm-fresh eggs, goat milk, a variety of meats and organic compost.
Willow-Witt is a community supported agricultural ranch with sustainably-raised and organically fed livestock. If you spend the night at one of the multiple farm stay options, make sure to request a grocery list of farm-grown meats and vegetables and your fridge will be stocked for your arrival. Willow-Witt is hugely involved with the Ashland Growers’ Farmers Market. You can also browse through their online farm store and get a look at what they have to offer (Online Farm Store).
From birding and hiking miles of wooded trails with pack goats to farm stays, tours, and the occasional weekend event hosted on the farm, Willow-Witt is full of family-friendly and community-oriented activities.
Kids and adults are more than welcome to help out with chores, which they often end up enjoying. Who would have thought that doing chores could be so much fun! Playing with the farm animals and gardening are two other farm favorite activities for guests on the ranch.
Willow-Witt offers a variety of ways to stay on the farm: a furnished farmhouse studio with loft, the Meadow House, deluxe platform tents, and, if you want to pitch a tent, there are private campsites nestled within the trees.
The Farmhouse Studio sleeps up to six, features a wood stove and full kitchen and overlooks beautiful meadows.
The Meadow House, a beautiful three bedroom two bath is available for farm stay or just the day for events.
Glamping, or glamorous camping, is another vacation option on the ranch. Platform tents and campsites come with the use of a fully equipped kitchen, hot showers, towels, bathrooms, and a complimentary tour of the farm.
Your next adventure starts here. Plan your trip and (Book Now). If you’d like more information, check out their (Farm Stay profile here).
(Photo Credit: Willow-Witt Ranch)
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