This week we feature an interview with Ginger Sykes of Turtle Mist Farm in North Carolina. Ginger and Bob Sykes long dreamed of farming and now aim to share their love for nature and knowledge of where food really comes from with others.
Ginger Sykes: We chose this area because it is not too far from my family in Maryland, the land prices here were unbelievable, the property is ideally located because it is rural but not too far from the city -- Our farm is 25 miles north of Raleigh.
Ginger: The setting around the property is very peaceful, although we have close neighbors, while on the property you get a feeling of being in a small world all your own. The view from the guest house overlooking the pond makes you feel like you should be sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs sipping lemonade.
Ginger: We have pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens (laying and broilers), Muscovy duck, Guineas, quail, peacocks, 2 horses, a goat, and a donkey.
Ginger: Our garden is a small market garden (we grow just enough to take to the farmers market). But because we cannot compete with the larger vegetable farmers we chose to grow different veggies. We grow purple & white Kohlrabi (a cabbage turnip), Edamame, turmeric, Tatuma squash (just a different variety of squash), berry tomatoes (cherry tomatoes that are shaped like strawberries), malabar spinach (a summer vining spinach) mini bell peppers, Armenian cucumbers (they look and taste like cucumbers but are muskmelons).
Ginger: We named the farm Turtle Mist because the pond in front of the guest has a large number of turtles in it and in the morning there's a fog that rolls across the pond.
Ginger: Most of our guests are parents with small children who want their children to have the farm experience and to learn where their food comes from. After they tour the farm, we let them help us with our chores, i.e., gather eggs, feed the sheep and pigs, and they can help in the garden if they want. If they don't want to work, they can fish, paddle boat, visit with and take pictures of the animals. Our horse trainer offers horse instructions and riding. And, depending on how long they stay, some guests visit surrounding cities (Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest).
(Photos courtesy Turtle Mist Farm)
Our second Farm Stay Story was written by Andrea O'Connor, who visited Spiritwind Farm in Lebanon, Maine.
Our second Farm Stay Story was written by Andrea O'Connor, who visited Spiritwind Farm in Lebanon, Maine.
I'm so happy to have discovered Farm Stay U.S.!
I had an incredible time at Spiritwind Farm, Lebanon, Maine. A BEAUTIFULLY restored farmhouse with luxury room and private bath. They have two Shire horses Kelly and Lucy, goats Coco and Bella and babies (so cute!), chickens, pigs. I think the big pig's name is Cobble and she likes to eat giant marshmallows as the occasional treat. She's having piglets in the fall!Kathy's goat milk soap is fabulous, the best I've ever used. She makes chèvre cheese too, which I didn't get a chance to taste as she was all sold out. Blueberry muffins, a dip in the beautiful pool after days at the nearby ocean beaches, watching the fireflies and flames in the outdoor wood fireplace!Ahhh. So relaxing and fun.
Thank you, thank you to Farmer Kathy, farm hand Erin, and all farmers doing such importand work for us and the earth!
(Photo courtesy Spiritwind Farm, words copyright Andrea O'Connor)
Our first entry in the Farm Stay Stories contest is brought to us by Helene Garcia of French Foodie Baby. This story about her family's visit to Mariposa Creamery in Altadena, California first appeared on her blog on June 19, 2013.
Travelers! We want to hear from you... tell us all about your U.S. farm and ranch stay adventures and you could win $100 from Farm Stay U.S.!
This promotion is running through September 30th, and there will be three winners - one each in the months of July, August, and September.
Read on for more details...
1. Assemble your story -- you can write, put together a photo essay, or film a video all about your overnight vacation at a working U.S. farm, ranch, or vineyard.
2. Send it to us at Farm Stay U.S.
That's it! Your submission may be posted here on our blog, and you'll be entered to win $100.
1. Submitting your content to us gives us the right to post it on our website, in our newsletter, and to link to it in various social media outlets.
2. Your submission may be edited for length, content, or clarity.
3. The farm, ranch, or vineyard stay you are sharing with us must be currently operating in the United States, Canada, District of Columbia, Central America, or the U.S. Territories.
4. The $100 prize winners will be selected at our discretion.
We can't wait to read all about your adventures!
(Photo courtesy The Inn at Valley Farms)
Please join us in extending a warm Farm Stay U.S. welcome to Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch!
Take a bite out of history! Explore and enjoy the heirloom vegetables and herb gardens, and the heritage fruit tree orchard. Learn about sustainability through composting, recycling, and energy/water conservation. Take a hike on the nature trail and view some wildlife. It's a "choose your own adventure" kind of vacation.
There are four guest cottages at Acres Wild Ranch, sleeping anywhere from 4 to 6 people, and pets are welcome for an additional fee. Meals are self-prep, and the cottages all have either a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The ranch offers a wide range of amenities, and they welcome children under 12, wedding parties, and other special events.
To learn more and start planning your adventure, visit the Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!
(Photos courtesy Heirloom Blooms)
Here's a very belated welcome to M Diamond Ranch, a new member of Farm Stay U.S., who joined the site back in January!
It's "horseback riding heaven" at this 100-year-old working cattle ranch, with trail rides and cowboy cookouts, featuring some of the best views in Sedona. The ranch is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, rural but not too remote, and close to a number of archaeological sites.
The historic, 1930s guest house has a fully equipped, full-sized kitchen, and sleeps up to 10 people. The five bedroom house is updated and comfortable, with amenities like a flat screen tv, wireless internet, and a full size washer and dryer. Even the horses can stay at the ranch's Horse Hotel!
To learn more about M Diamond Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing.
(Photos courtesy M Diamond Ranch)
Nestled into a beautiful corner of Southern Vermont, Cold Moon Farm is a relaxing retreat with an array of activities for guests. Owners Ed and Irene Glazer have created an inviting place to vacation, along with activities like learning to bake bread, picking vegetables from the garden, observing the grazing goat herd, and telling stories around a campfire, just to name a few.
It’s often said that a kitchen is the heart of the home. Indeed, Cold Moon Farm was designed around its kitchen, which frequently serves as the gathering place for the entire farm. Guests enjoy daily fresh breakfasts, featuring eggs from the laying hens, bacon and sausage from Cold Moon’s own pigs, and raw goat milk from the farm’s herd. Add fresh-baked bread, Cold Moon Farm honey, and farm made yogurt, and you have a hearty morning start for anyone about to launch into a day of exploration.
With professional appliances, all the necessary tools, and lots of storage and counter space, this is Irene’s dream kitchen, and she has generously made it available for culinary events, demonstrations, and classes. Farm stay guests, as well as individuals not spending the night, can pay a class fee and learn to bake bread, make cheese and yogurt, or harvest and prepare a farm-to-table dinner.
If you can tear yourself away from the amazing kitchen, there are plenty of farm animals to visit. The Glazers raise a herd of milking goats, and South Down Baby Doll sheep for their wool. Chickens and ducks provide eggs for the farm, and in the summer months there are chickens raised for meat. Finally, a breeding pair of Large Black pigs is expected to deliver their first set of piglets early this summer, which the crew at Cold Moon Farm is eagerly anticipating. Helping guests become acclimated to all this activity is Dave Meckes, AKA "Farmer Dave", the Farm and Operations Manager. He oversees the herd and the property, and takes guests on informative farm tours. You might see some wildlife, too. Georgia LoPresti Meckes, who does Marketing and Development for the farm, says, "Our pond is the perfect place to explore for frogs and to go for a refreshing dip!" Georgia writes a blog for the farm, and is the person behind the farm's social media presence.
Four guest suites make up the accommodations at Cold Moon Farm, and they all feature private baths and luxurious touches like TempurPedic mattresses, towel warmers, and tasteful Vermont decor. There are a variety of room types, for parties of different sizes, such as a Queen Bedroom suite that sleeps 2, a two-room Library Suite that can sleep up to 5 people, and a Family Room that can accommodate 7.
The King Room
The Family Room
Other activities at Cold Moon Farm include "Pick Your Own" weekends, where guests receive a farm tour, and can purchase a special bag that they fill with the freshest vegetables from the picking garden. There are also guided hiking trips, and visitors to the farm will find canoeing and kayaking at nearby Jamaica State Park. Sustainable weddings, and yoga retreats round out the farm's offerings.
To meet Ed and Irene, and learn more about Cold Moon Farm, watch this video slide show from the farm, below, and then visit their listing on Farm Stay U.S.!
(All photos courtesy Cold Moon Farm)
Heydenrych Farms is a 130-acre farm in Canajoharie, New York, 50 miles west of Albany and a four hour drive from New York City. Farmers Magda and Andre Heydenrych moved to Canajoharie from their native South Africa in 2004, with a strong understanding of how they wanted to farm. Magda and Andre raise 100% grass-fed beef and lamb; the sheep and cattle are never given feed, unecessary antibiotics, or growth hormones. The Hydenryches also raise horses, chickens, and one special zebra named Chaka! The animals are all given the opportunity to express themselves in their natural environment. These farming practices earned Heydenrych Farm an Animal Welfare Approval and American Grassfed Certification for beef in 2009.
In addition to the grass-fed meat, handcrafted, tallow-based soaps are also a Heydenrych Farm specialty. The soap comes in appealing varieties like "Avocado & Strawberry," "Autumn on the Farm," and "Divine Cocoa Butter Vanilla." Magda and Andre have boosted their farm's business by offering their meat and soap for sale by mail in addition to local drop offs.
Heydenrych Farm offers a farm stay in a private, 3-bedroom 1880s farmhouse that sits on its own two acres with a great mountain view. Guests have access to all the house's amenities, including a full kitchen and outdoor grill where guests can prepare the farm's own grass-fed meats and fresh-picked vegetables -- guests are welcome to pick in-season vegetables from the farm's gardens. Many guests also enjoy walking around the nearby pond and helping care for the animals, though helping with chores is optional. Magda will also teach custom soapmaking to interested guests.
Off the farm, there are miles of trails, plus canoeing, golfing, apple picking, and plenty of museums.
Rates for the farmhouse, which sleeps up to six, are $125/night for two guests, plus $15/night for each additional guest/night. High-speed wireless internet is available for an additional charge.
For more information, visit the Farm Stay U.S. Heydenrych Farms listing or the Heydenrych Farms website.
Photos courtesy Heydenrych Farms.
We'd like to give a warm welcome to a new member of the site, Chestnut Hill Ranch Bed and Breakfast!
Hosts George and Cher have created a true getaway in Only, Tennessee, just about an hour from Nashville. They provide fresh, delicious meals, romance packages, privacy, and there are lots of activities nearby.
The 53 acre working farm features a restored 1905 farmhouse with three themed rooms with private baths to choose from. Breakfast is included with the stay. The farm has friendly animals, and beehives for collecting fresh honey!To learn more about Chestnut Hill Ranch, visit their listing here on Farm Stay U.S.
Stillwaters Farm, located in Henderson, Tennessee, is 131 acres replete with green pastures, shady wooded areas, small ponds, and grassy hay fields. We spoke with Valeria Pitoni about what makes Stillwaters such a special spot.
Valeria shared with us that although the farm has a "way out" feeling, due to being nestled among approximately 1,000 acres of cropland, wooded areas, and other family farms, it's actually quite close -- only 2 miles -- from the city limits of Henderson. The farm, farm stay, and their animal inhabitants live on the front 25+ acres of the property, while the rest is considered hay fields and natural habitat.
This "back 100+" acreage is an excellent place for a hike or golf cart ride, and, after being assessed by a semi-local ornithologist, Valeria says they can boast a good population of birds whose species are rated as in-decline. (Bring your binoculars!) Other wildlife in the area are deer and wild turkeys in abundance, an occasional coyote, and once in a great while visitors to the farm may see a red fox, an armadillo, or even otter or bobcats.
When asked what guests typically do when they visit the farm, Valeria said, "while many of our guests arrive with a list as long as their arm, most emerge from the Cottage after a couple of days with hair sticking every which-way, coffee mug in hand, stating -- emphatically -- that they can't remember when they've rested so well!"
Aside from all that wonderful rest, guests receive "critter tours" to get to know the inhabitants and landscape of the farm, any questions they have are answered, and from that point on, they decide what they'd like to do. Guests are welcome to join in whatever farm activity is happening, whether it be hay season, bringing in the crop, animal feeding and/or grooming, trimming time for horses, gardening, animal babysitting, nature hiking and photography excursions, flower collecting, and much more.
The farm occasionally hosts artist's workshops, where they prepare and paint gourds that are raised on the farm. Off farm activities can include visits to Civil War monuments, such as Shiloh National Battlefield Park, a pearl farm attraction, Casey Jones Village and Museum, a minor league baseball park, and several state parks within an hour's drive. Guests may also enjoy horseback riding, canoeing, visiting the nearby Amish community of Lawrenceburg, or attending events at the West Tennessee State Fairgrounds. The town of Henderson boasts a new day spa, only 4 miles from the farm, where guests can find services like massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures.
Local food enthusiasts can make their way to the West Tennessee Farmer's Market in Jackson, where dozens of vendors sell a wide variety of produce, grass-fed meats, arts, crafts, and products from Stillwaters Farm. The farm itself also has "The Silo", their very own on-farm store featuring their handcrafted artisan soaps, soy candles, art, photography, and more.
Guests staying at Stillwaters Farm enjoy a free-standing 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 1,000 square foot cottage at the leading edge of the farm. It's climate-controlled with central heat and air, and it offers an outdoor lounge area with views of the diverse gardens and pastoral vistas. A private drive leads to the private parking for Cottage guests.
Inside, Valeria tells us, "the Cottage is furnished in period antiques, albeit touchable antiques, along with a 1917 cast iron claw foot tub for soaking." The bedrooms are spacious and the beds have premium mattresses for guests' comfort. There is a television and DVD/VCR player, along with a small library of videos, and a stereo hidden away in the living room, but there is no satellite, cable, or Wi-Fi service. A small, but eclectic, library is maintained for guests to use.
Guests self-prepare their meals, and the kitchen is outfitted with all major appliances, cookware, tableware, and flatware necessary. The Cottage is stocked with coffee, soaps, and essentials like cooking oil, salt and pepper, and spices for guests to use, and guests are encouraged to partake of the fresh, in-season produce from the farm's garden.
To learn more, we invite you to visit the Stillwaters Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S., as well as their website and Facebook page.
(All photos courtesy Stillwaters Farm)
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