By Ann H. Waigand
Spending time on a farm can be strangely reassuring. After all, staying on the land provides a brief, but intimate, glimpse into the way things used to be and confirms that, somewhere in this technologically advanced world, there are communities still living quite well on what they cultivate from the land. In these microcosms of society are often found the history of a region, seemingly frozen in time.
Over the past few decades, tourism authorities around the world have come to recognize the importance of rural areas to their industry. What has emerged is the concept of agrotourism and, from that, programs commonly referred to as farmstays have evolved. The premise of a farmstay is relatively simple: farmers and their families open their homes to visitors and share with them the many facets of life on the farm, thus bringing profitable tourism to the area and a great vacation to the traveler!
Both working and non-working farms provide accommodations for travelers, anything from a room in the main farmhouse to a cabin located on the land. Properties range from the most rustic operating farm to an elegant bed and breakfast. On working farms, visitors are often invited to participate in the daily chores, and many rejoice in the opportunity to get in touch with nature–literally. Tasks can include the traditional milking of cows, feeding of hens, and gathering of hay.
In Scandinavia, visitors can take part in moose safaris and lessons in cheese making. Visitors on selected German farms receive expert instruction in the art of hunting. Alpine farms in Austria and Switzerland often offer recreational activities such as horseback riding and skiing, while farms in Vermont, in the US, offer dairy milking and apple picking.
WHAT TYPES OF FARMS HOST TRAVELERS?
Look for sheep or pig farms in the U.K. A deer farm in Australia. A vineyard in Italy.
There are even ecological farms in Germany where those tending to the land must adhere to strict rules and regulations governing the cultivation of products. Such farms offer an excellent opportunity to learn about an alternative, environmentally-friendly form of land management.
If you don’t have friends or family in a particular destination to which you are traveling, one great way to get to know the people and get close to the culture is by staying on a farm. In addition, farm holidays make excellent options for families traveling with children. Converted buildings on the homesteads provide spacious accommodations, and children especially love the close contact with exotic animals.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For information on U.S. Farmstays, see our story, SLEEPING IN THE HAY
Directory of farmstays throughout the USA.
Represents country houses and working farms in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
Information on activities and farmstays in Equador.
infohub.com : farm stay and ranching
Listings for farmstays around the world.
Offers over 2000 farms in their catalog, Urlaub auf dem Bauernhof (price DM 19.90 plus DM 5.50 for postage)
Touristik-Zentrum Oberes Taubertal
books hay hotel/bicycling tours
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