Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Archive for tag: farm vacation

Why Stay on a Farm?

The Importance of Farm Stays - for you AND the farm

My husband and I bought our Oregon farm 14 years ago. We were Phoenix urbanites looking for water and a change of pace. That’s about as far as we delved into what exactly being a farmer entailed. Our farm came with a mixture of smaller livestock, some rusty equipment, a century-old apple orchard, and a peacock. It seemed like an idyllic life choice with beautiful scenery and the requisite historic barn. We thought, “How hard could farming be?”

LLF barn and sheep

In hindsight, a business plan might have squelched that naiveté, but idealizing farming isn’t new nor are we the only ones to have gone down that path, even marketing the myth (Does Pepperidge Farm really exist?) Regardless, this is actually a great reason to visit a farm. After all, this is where the food in your fridge starts out - be it livestock or produce, even something simple like eggs (Fair warning: egg-laying chickens are well known as a “gateway livestock”!) Farming is physically demanding; it requires skill and education, and even a bit of luck. It’s a risky business. It’s also a 7-day-a-week job that some will joke is a lifestyle, not a living. But it also brings clarity to pricing at your local farmers’ market. Exactly how much time and labor does it take on the part of the farmer to get those eggs to your fridge?

LLF hay field


Most small farms ($100K or less in sales) require off-farm jobs to support the family. We were no different. Which leads me to the creative thinking required to make a living on a farm, also known as ‘value-added’ (thanks USDA). That would be the jam, goat cheese, wool, or soap you’ll find on Etsy, at the farmers’ market, or at the roadside farm stand. For us, it was the addition of a ‘farm stay’ to our operations. Farm stays – overnight lodging provided on the farm for a fee – are as varied as the farms offering them. You might find yourself in a tent on the back-40, a cabin, a yurt, even a room in the farm house; and, often your stay includes a farm-fresh breakfast and a rooster alarm clock.

LLF Cottage view

Yup, we farmers are looking at diversification strategies (wow, we sounds like hedge fund managers) that include the hospitality business and inviting strangers to experience our lifestyle. It helps pay for tractor maintenance, but it also allows us to share our vistas as well as our challenges with urbanites and travelers, often disconnected from the natural world in ways that would have our grandparents shaking their collective heads. We know. We were those urbanites - until we weren’t.

Eggs for breakfast

And, it’s not dirty and boring the way you might think. Okay, well the lodging isn’t dirty, although helping around the farm might involve some dirt. Boring never factors in because… farms aren’t boring. Maybe you’ll help collect eggs, brush the donkey, even hold a baby lamb. Maybe you’ll sit on the farm house porch and read a good book, drink the local brew, unwind and unplug. You’ll be our guest for a weekend or a week and you never had to buy the farm!


This is why you would want to stay on a farm. It’s a bridge to the country. It’s a boon to the farm (it saved ours). It’s fun and unexpected, and your friends will think you are crazy, until you return home with tales of feeding a baby goat, and then they will want to go too. You’ll be protecting small-farm America that at one point built this country. You’re a patriot! Okay, bit of a stretch, but at least you have found a unique, relaxing vacation spot… and are now contemplating chickens for the back yard!

Bard Rocks


Easter is coming up this weekend, and that brings up the annual issue of cute baby animals given as gifts for the occasion.

Baby bunnies (known as kits), chicks, ducklings, and other cute creatures require a big commitment. They need special diets and housing and... well... these types of animals tend to poop wherever they feel like it. Ask anyone who lets chickens free-range in their back yards! Just no decorum, I tell ya.

Instead of risking the need to re-home these animals when they grow out of the cuddly baby stage and turn into a long-term responsibility, we highly recommend visiting animals on a farm instead. (Of course!) Create memories that will last a lifetime... not a lifetime of chores.

Q&A Turtle Mist Farm, North Carolina

ss1This 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.

FSUS: Fulfilling a long-time dream, you decided to start your farm after
working for 30 years in corporate America. Why did you choose North Carolina?

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.

FSUS: What's the setting like around your farm, and the landscape?

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.

FSUS: What kind of animals are on your farm now?

Ginger: We have pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens (laying and broilers), Muscovy duck, Guineas, quail, peacocks, 2 horses, a goat, and a donkey.ss6

FSUS: Can you tell us about some of the unusual vegetables that you grow?

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).

FSUS: How did your farm get its name?

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.

ss10FSUS: What do most guests do during a stay on your farm?

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)

Stillwaters1Stillwaters 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.Stillwaters2

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!"Stillwaters3

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.Stillwaters4

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. Stillwaters6

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.

Stillwaters5Guests 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)

Draper Girls Country Farm, set at the base of Oregon's majestic Mt. Hood about an hour from Portland, is a 3rd generation fruit farm with a U-pick orchard, a farm stand, a small petting zoo, and a four-bedroom country cottage guesthouse.


Roman Braun founded the family farm in 1962. Now his daughter Theresa and her three daughters, Rachel, Crystal, and Stefanie, run the farm. When I asked Theresa why she chose to take over her father's farm, she says, "I can't really describe why. I think it's in my blood. I always loved the farm ... if you love farming, it's just something you want to do."

The farm is 40 acres, with 15 acres of apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and berries that visitors can pick themselves. Theresa says that the sweet and juicy peaches, plums, and nectarines are her favorites - she especially recommends Red Haven peaches. She also loves their apples, the crop for which the farm is most well known. Theresa describes her favorite variety honeycrisp as "really crispy, and just the right amount of sweet and tart."

Draper Girls Farm is also known as one of Oregon's few remaining licensed producers of non-pasteurized, unfiltered ciders. The farm offers apple, pear, and cherry cider, as well as delicious blends like cherry-apple, pear-apple, and the new raspberry-apple. Non-pasteurized cider has a fuller, richer flavor than pasteurized cider. Theresa says that drinking raw cider is almost like eating an apple or a handful of cherries, but with even more flavor. Unpasteurized ciders can start to ferment much sooner than pasteurized ciders, but the farm follows strict licensing and monitoring procedures to maintain its quality and shelf life.


For visitors who have a full day or week to spend in the area, Draper Girls Farm is a stop along the Hood River County "Fruit Loop", a driving tour with dozens of stops at orchards, wineries, lavender farms, and even a chestnut farm and an alpaca farm.

In addition to fruit, Roman Braun had always raised sheep. Theresa and her daughters added goats, mini-goats, llamas, chickens, turkeys, and geese. The Draper Girls sell their grass-fed goat and lamb meat at farmers markets and at their onsite farm stand.


Theresa has grown the farm through a rise in direct to consumer sales. She started the U-pick operation, her favorite way to sell produce. Theresa says, "The U-pick is really fun. People from the city get a feel for how we grow things, and they bring their kids to run around. Our yard has flowers all over it, we have a great big swing, and we have an old tractor that kids like to sit on for photos. We love that visitors feel at home when they visit our farm."

In Roman Braun's time, says Theresa, there were no farmers markets, and all their sheep were sold at auction. People came by the farm to buy large boxes of fruit for canning and drying, but direct-to-consumer sales were not a major part of the business.

In 2007, Theresa decided to add a farm stay. She invited guests to rent the little farmhouse where she lived as a child and where she raised her own children.


Farm guests are invited to feed the animals, pick fruit, roam the farm, and participate in farm activities throughout the year. Venturing off the farm, they can tour the Fruit Loop, taste wine, visit the City of Hood River or Mt. Hood, and hike, bike, and wind surf, among many other activities

Though many people wouldn't think to visit a fruit farm in the winter or early spring, Theresa says it is a neat time of year on the farm. To growers it is called 'frost season,' and it is a vital time for ensuring that fruit trees yield a viable crop. During nightly freezes, the Drapers save their crops by running wind machines and overhead sprinklers that form droplets on the trees and their buds. The droplets, as they freeze, release heat and once frozen also provide essential insulation from the cold and wind.

Theresa says that the farmhouse has everything guests could want. She explains that she and her daughters fixed it up with bright cheerful colors. It has a fireplace, lots of antiques, and a big farm table where families can gather. The house is casual, not fancy, and family friendly. According to Theresa, "People who stay there really like it!"


For more information about visiting Draper Girls Country Farm, check out their Farm Stay U.S. listing or their farm website. The Draper Girls cottage has four bedrooms and two baths and rents for $150 to $275/night.

All photos in this blog courtesy Draper Girls Country Farm.

This month, Farm Stay U.S. is proud to feature Splendor Farms, a B&B, trail-riding facility, and licensed Dachshund kennel in Bush, Louisiana, one hour outside of New Orleans. We recently interviewed owner Kelly Bensabat and are excited to share her story. For more details and to plan a stay, check out the Farm Stay U.S. Splendor Farms listing. Thanks to Carl Bordelon Photography for the use of the photos below.

1. Could you tell us about the history of your farm?

splendor-farms-ridingThrough hard work and faith in my dreams, Splendor Farms evolved from a family home with a horse into the bed and breakfast and trail riding facility we have today. My husband, an attorney, and I, an insurance defense paralegal for over 20 years, moved here in 1988 and raised our two children here, but they didn't really live a farm life then other than a garden and woods to play in. About 12 years ago, I decided to breed my mare and build a barn for her. When the kids left for college, I bought my first dachshund, then another, and another, and then started showing and breeding. I was tiring of the legal world and decided I wanted to show my dogs full time, give riding lessons, and board horses.

Then Hurricane Katrina came and with all the misery it brought, including my husband's heart surgery three weeks after the hurricane. I decided life was too short -- the kids had graduated from college by then and I had three empty rooms, so I decided to open a bed and breakfast, but not the usual kind with antiques and wine/cheese at check in. I wanted to be pet and kid friendly, offering a farm environment with fishing and swimming, and the best part, trail rides!  Today we have a bed and breakfast, trail riding on over 1000 acres, and a licensed dachshund kennel.

meet-your-neighborsI am in my 5th year of summer horse/farm camps and now do middle of the month camps as well; for those monthly camps I work with the parents so the camps are an incentive to make good grades; I only let girls attend if they are making As and Bs in school, which has helped some girls who were struggling academically to turn around their grades. The summer camps host 8-10 campers at a time; the campers get to do lots of riding, learn to cook, do chores, pick veggies, fish, and compete in a rodeo on Fridays.

My next endeavor will be to build a couple of small one-room camps, with baths and full kitchens, on the 2.5 acres across from our home overlooking the creek.  These will be rented out for weekend stays, with day passes for trail rides, fishing, and swimming available for the guests. They will be so private that they will also be great "get away from it all" destinations!

2. Could you tell us about your animals?

I have at any time as many as 35 to 45 head of trail horses, boarding horses, rescuedgeese-heronthoroughbreds, andI still have my old barrel mare, Star. She is 26 now and still gets excited when she hears a gate clank, like in the arena. We have several barn cats, so no mice! We have a couple of stocked ponds for the guest to fish, on a catch & release basis. We have chickens for eggs, guineas, pheasants, & turkeys for gumbos, and a pot-bellied pig, along with milk goats and sheep. If I could get my nannies to have girls instead of boys, we could make goat cheese.

3. Why did you choose to breed and raise dachshunds?

Dachshunds (long haired) are gorgeous dogs, very smart and funny. They are small for your lap, but big with loyalty. I love all hounds, but Dachshunds' different shape and almost-shaped eyes are too hard to resist. The first time I saw a Dachshund, I was in a stationary store, and when I took a seat, the red pillow next to me moved and I jumped! I looked down and saw these gorgeous brown eyes and long flowing red coat. I didn't even know what kind of dog it was until the owner told me. Then, a week later, I was at Louisiana Paralegal Seminar in New Orleans, and during a break I was walking through the hotel lobby and a lady came off the elevator with two long haired black & tans on a double leash. Their gait was just breathtaking for such short legs, and I was hooked. I rescue many dachshunds from animal shelters and breeders. Sometimes they simply show up in my neighborhood!

4.  Do you have a favorite vegetable or fruit, either to grow or to eat?

Strawberries and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, hands down! We are lucky in Louisiana to be able to grow both in several plantings almost year around. A greenhouse has been a great addition to my food supply. We can start our tomato seeds in December and plant in pots in February and in the ground in early April, for early spring tomatoes in May. Strawberries are wonderful, too. Two plantings a year, and they have more vitamin C than oranges, plus they freeze outstandingly well.

5. What is the setting of your farm like?

Our farm is pastoral, with woods to explore and lots of animals to visit. Our farm is prettier to most guests in the spring and summer when the plants and flowers are out, but fall is my favorite time! We may not have the foliage changes like up in the northeast, but to me Louisiana is beautiful in the fall.  It could also be that after our hot summers, we are charmed by the cooler weather.


Our pool area is very nice and can feel very private, as it's surrounded by hibiscus, but you can be floating in the pool and look out and see beautiful horses grazing 100 feet away. We have herb gardens and raised beds with seasonal veggies to admire and when we have an abundant crop, we are more than happy to let you pick some to take home with you.

6. What do most of your guests do during their stay?

They walk around the farm, get to know the petting zoo animals, pick veggies in high season, take a hike on the horse trails through the 45 acres, trail ride after breakfast, read a book on the patio, swim, fish the stocked ponds, or take a nap in a hammock (my favorite when I have time!)  They also get to choose what they are going to have for breakfast the next morning.  Every guest gets a menu with four to five items to choose from. No generic breakfast casserole is served in my dining room!

7. Your B&B includes three guest bedrooms - "The Queens' Suite," "La Louisiane," and "Ponderosa." You also offer a furnished guest apartment with six bunk beds. Could you tell us about the décor and your decorating philosophy?

I wanted each bedroom to be different. The Queens' Suite is called that because two la-louisiane
people both think it's their room -- my mother and my best friend. La Louisiane was the name of my favorite restaurant in the French quarter. Lots of French people come to visit us, and they love staying in that room. It's decorated in purple, green, and gold, and full of Louisiana literature and history. Ponderosa features wooden beams, and knotted pine paneled walls, and it opens on screen porch. It is our most rustic room, with a Texas Cowboys and Indians theme since I'm from Texas. The Bunkhouse is our family accommodation; it sleeps up to 10, with bunk beds, and a pullout bed.

My decorating philosophy is really about comfort. I use 1000+ thread count sheets, down comforters, and thick towels. We iron all the sheets. It's luxurious even though you're on a farm. We also offer flat-screen TVs, DVD players and board games. There's so much to do here!

8. Anything more you'd like to add?

splendor-farms-lodgingI am very blessed to be living my dream -- being in the country, surrounded by animals, cooking for people, decorating for the seasons, and having a very wonderful husband and children who support my dream and like my mother-in-law told me, "You have vision!  I am so proud of you!"  I am proud of me, too, and of Splendor Farms!

ALSEA, Ore. -  Farm Stay U.S. today named the top states for farm travel and tourism, finding that Pennsylvania, California and Vermont lead the nation in "haycation" destinations with the largest number of farm vacation listings in its database.

Young girl with carrots- Keolamauloa Farm

The searchable website has grown within a year to become the largest online source for farm vacations in the U.S., having expanded rapidly to 721 listings in all 50 states. The number of farms, ranches and vineyards has more than doubled from the original 320 listings in 46 states when launched in June 2010, and it will continue to grow as farm tourism and consumer interest in sustainable and local agriculture expands in the U.S.

Farm Stay U.S. found that Pennsylvania, California and Vermont lead the way in farm and ranch stay listings: Pennsylvania has 73 farm and ranch listings; California has 52 and Vermont 45.

Rounding out the top ten states are ranch-heavy Wyoming at 42, Virginia at 38, North Carolina at 34, Montana at 33, Colorado at 31, Oregon at 26 and New York at 25. All 50 states' farm and ranch stay listings can be viewed at /map. Other state-specific numbers are below.

Farm vacations benefit both guests and hosts, providing needed income to small family farms and memorable, fun experiences for guests. Increasingly people are longing to eat and support the growing of truly fresh food and to teach their kids that eggs come from chickens not cartons, " said (Ms.) Scottie Jones, an Alsea, Ore. farmer and founder of Farm Stay U.S.

Eggs for breakfast"Our vision is to help restore America's family farm heritage," Jones said. "Call it a farm stay or haycation, agritourism is increasingly important to small farmers trying to stay afloat when competing with industrial farming and increasingly important to city dwellers seeking an escape and connection to a grounded way of life."

Farm Stay U.S. identifies vacation options ranging from rustic cabins to four-star lodging, where activities range from feeding animals and picking fruit to spinning wool, horseback riding, skiing and even yoga. Farm Stay U.S. also is building the tools, resources and community for farmers to start or grow their farm stay offerings alongside their working operations.

The website is free to travelers, and free to farmers for basic listings. The vision is for premium listings, sponsorship and advertising to support the website.

Hatching an Idea was launched in June 2010 by Jones who operates her own farm stay, Leaping Lamb Farm, with her husband, Greg, in Alsea, Ore. They have hosted American and international guests since 2006. Visitors report being refreshed by the farm vacation experience, often returning to their lives with a greater appreciation for farming and a greater likelihood of supporting local food and farms through farmers' markets and their other everyday purchases.

"We were regularly booked at our farm stay and wanted to help our guests and other farmers by creating an easy referral network. That idea grew into Farm Stay U.S.," Jones said. "We hope it grows further into a robust network of farmers helping farmers and guests who continue to connect and support a healthier food and farm system."

Grandview Farm Vermont

Visitors can search each state via the "Farms Map" tab. The number changes every day as new farms add their information, but as of March 14, 2011, the number of farm or ranch stays per state are: Alabama 6, Alaska 5, Arizona 13, Arkansas 7, California 52, Colorado 31, Connecticut 6, Delaware 1, Florida 12, Georgia 13, Hawaii 5, Idaho 12, Illinois 7, Indiana 4, Iowa 8, Kansas 7, Kentucky 12, Louisiana 4, Maine 15, Maryland 6, Massachusetts 17, Michigan 7, Minnesota 6, Mississippi 2, Missouri 10, Montana 33, Nebraska 19, Nevada 7, New Hampshire 6, New Jersey 3, New Mexico 5, New York 24, North Carolina 34, North Dakota 1, Ohio 10, Oklahoma 15, Oregon 26, Pennsylvania 73, Rhode Island 5, South Carolina 4, South Dakota 13, Tennessee 3, Texas 15, Utah 2, Vermont 45, Virginia 38, Washington 9, West Virginia 4, Wisconsin 17, Wyoming 42.

Photo credits: top - SallyLundburg / Keolamauloa Farm, middle - K. Fritz / Leaping Lamb Farm, bottom - KimGoodling / Vermont Grandview Farm

Pleasant Springs Farm Yarn

We're down to the wire. It's two days before Christmas, and many days past Hanukkah. If you, like us, are behind with your gift-buying, we have some ideas especially for the farm and food lovers in your lives.  Heck, these ideas are good all year 'round!

1. A gift certificate for a farm stay. Did you take a farm vacation and love it, and you think your friends or family might love it too? Even when farm stays don't advertise gift certificates, many will happily create one for you if you ask. Farm stays that specifically market gift certificates include Weatherbury Farm in PA, Moonstone Farm (MN), and The Greer Farm (TX).

3. Special farm food, by mail or from the farm shop. Want to give someone a gift of organic avocados? Charan Springs Farm (CA) sells them via mail order. Vermont Maple Syrup? Order some from Couture's Maple Shop and B&B.  How about pickles and preserves from Blackberry Farm (TN) and six-packs of marmalades, jams and chutneys from Aravaipa Farms in AZ?  Don't forget wines from the vineyard farm stays in our group, and nuts and fruits from our orchard members.

2. A CSA membership. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a neat program which works like this: CSA members buy a 'share' of the season's produce (or meat, or yarn, etc.) from a farm, then receive a weekly box with their piece of the bounty. Farmers win by getting an influx of cash at a crucial time, right at the beginning of their season, and members win by getting a good value on fresh food and a closer relationship with the folks who produced it. Farm stays that offer CSAs include Serenity Sheep Farm ( MT), Dog Mountain Farm in WA, The Ponderosa Lodge Farm (WV), Juniper Moon Farm (VA), and Vermont Grand View Farm. These last two offer fiber CSAs instead of traditional vegetable CSAs.

4. Woolen goods and other gifts. WeatherLea Farm (VA) and Stonehaven Family Farm (MA) sell wonderful wool blankets. We mentioned Vermont Grand View Farm and Juniper Moon Farm above for their fiber CSAs; they are also great sources of yarn and rovings. Hartman's Herb Farm (MA) has dried flower arrangements and wreaths and Mirror Lake Bed and Breakfast (IN) has Amish items in its gift shop. Browse Farm Stay U.S. to find others!

Check our farms and ranches out for gift ideas, even after the holiday rush is over. By buying gifts from farms and ranches, you're buying products that are handmade or grown with love. You're getting wonderfully unique products (or experiences) and at the same time you're supporting our small family farmers. The ideas we've listed here are only a few of the possibilities. Know of others? Please leave us a comment and tell us about them.

Where are all the farm stays hiding?

Andrus Ranch Idaho

Andrus Ranch, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

Finding working farms and ranches that offer lodging in the U.S. is a mighty challenge.  We have spent over 8 months searching the Internet and then entering information found on farm websites and Google links to create a database of what we think is out there for guests to enjoy.

Every time I read an article about farm stays, farm vacations, haycations, and sleeping in the hay, I check to see if these farms and ranches are on our site. Usually we have most, but often not every one.  I wonder what key words the writer has used to find them all?

So, this is a plea.  If you have a favorite farm or ranch that is not listed on Farm Stay U.S., please forward the website or contact information and we will add it  here.

Our criteria: the property must be a working farm or ranch producing something that is sold off the property to generate income.  I suppose, if the farm consumes everything it grows, as an example of self-sufficiency, that works too. If you can't decide, send the link anyway!

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful social media tool we have...and one of the oldest. Tell us what you know.  We'll share it with the world!

Pagett Farm

Pagett Farm, Palermo, Maine