As travelers are becoming more eco-focused, farm vacations are on the rise. Luckily, there are a number of excellent farm stays sprinkled throughout the United States that can introduce you to farm life firsthand and allow you to experience a sustainable vacation. Some of my top picks include:
In the 19th century the land Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm resides on now was owned by the Armijo family, who grew alfalfa, wheat, corn and wine grapes, and was then turned over to Albert and Ruth Simms who ran it as the model experimental farm it is today. Guests can sleep in comfortable farm suites crafted in the style of their 1930s dairy buildings with white stuccoed walls and pitched tin roofs, sample artisanal bath and food products in the farm shop, and tour the inn’s onsite organic farm, bee hives and lavender fields. The farm-to-fork dishes served at the inn is Rio Grande Valley Cuisine, with dishes inspired by New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley blended with French cooking techniques like braising, roasting and confit, with ingredients sourced mainly from their onsite farm. Make use of one of Los Poblanos’ complimentary bikes and tour the nearby wineries, farms and Rio Grande Valley State Park; see the inn’s animals and feed the goats; go for a dip in the pool; or take part in an onsite event like cooking classes, gardening workshop or beekeeping class.
A sheep and goat ranch owned by Christine and Jim Maguire, Rinconada Dairy does it all: Producing handcrafted cheeses and raw sheep milk, growing organic and pesticide-free produce, raising hormone-free meats and offering experiential farm stays. Guests start their day with a farm-fresh breakfast before enjoying activities like tending to their organic garden, feeding and milking the animals, and watching the cheese-making process. Bonus: Rinconada Dairy makes an excellent homebase for those who want to experience San Luis Obispo County wine country.
Hull-O Farms in the Catskills region of New York is a great farm stay experience that allows guests to partake in farm-to-fork dining, sleep in rustic country houses and chalets, and pitch in with the farm chores to learn more about the sustainable lifestyle. A Hull family business for over 200 years, Hull-O Farms is home to a variety of farm animals, some of which include goats, pigs, cows, chickens and horses. The farm takes a very hands-on approach with guests, allowing them to repair fences, toss hay, milk cows, nanny goats, collect chicken eggs, take care of baby animals and even help deliver newborn calves. Other farm-inspired activities include fishing in the farm pond, roasting S’mores over a bonfire, kite flying and picking fruits and vegetables. In terms of food, meals are served in an all-you-can-eat family-style fashion, with some breakfast items including buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup and sweet cream butter and farm-fresh eggs and dinner ranging from homemade lasagna to all-natural grass fed roast beef to herbed chicken and dumplings. We recommend visiting in September and October, when the farms corn field is turned into a Mystery Corn Maze.
Libery Hill Farm is a dairy farm run by the Kennett family where guests can experience farm life firsthand. Milking cows, feeding baby calves, chasing chickens and petting cuddly kittens is all part of the stay. Sleep in a farm house with “grandmother’s attic” decor with Quaker furnishings from the late 1800s, paintings and photos of the farm, braided rugs, bed quilts and interesting accessories like an egg scale and bobbin thread holder from the 1800s and inn owner Beth Kennett’s Great Grandmother’s bloomers. In terms of dining, the Kennetts serve a family-style breakfast and dinner made from local products, including house-made cheese, produce from their vegetable garden and house-made maple syrup. Interestingly, Liberty Hill Farm’s cows make milk for the Cabot Creamery Cooperative, and guests can visit the factory to see how the white liquid is turned into cheese.
The Travaasa Austin is part of the Travaasa brand of experiential resorts, the Austin property focuses on getting people into the outdoors and experiencing farm culture. Last April, they debuted Travaasa Farm, an onsite 3.25-acre working organic farm that supplies the resorts kitchen and acts as the focus of a number of guest programs. On the farm you’ll find over 80 varieties of vegetables, fruits, nuts, flowers and herbs, as well as a 360 square-foot greenhouse, a chicken coop and horse stable. Along with being able to take part in archery, ropes courses, culinary class and fitness programs, guests can take classes related to topics like seeding and chicken tending; go horseback riding; and roll up their sleeves to take part in farm chores. When it’s time to relax, head to the spa and enjoy treatments infused with organic farm ingredients.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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