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Farm Stay Getaways Are Relaxing, Eco-Friendly and Fun

For those looking to connect with nature and the countryside while unwinding and eating fresh local produce, a farm stay may be a perfect, if not underrated, option

By Naomi Kaye Honova

Cruises, resorts, hotels, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts are some of the many options out there for an intrepid or relaxing holiday. One unique style of getaway that you may have not considered yet, though, is a farm stay.

Two people playing fusball outside on a farm. Next Avenue, farm holiday
Photo taken during the author's recent farm stay.  |  Credit: Naomi Kaye Honova

Farm stays are a vacation option rife with possibilities. For those looking to connect with nature and the countryside while unwinding and eating fresh local produce, it's a fantastic option. Another special aspect of a farm stay is that in some scenarios, working farms allow for guest participation on the farm, sometimes in exchange for room and board.

My personal experiences with farm stays have been incredibly positive, and I've become passionate about sharing the joys and advantages of farm stays worldwide with others.

Why Choose a Farm Stay?

Amanda Edwards, the owner of Nantgwynfaen Organic Farm in Wales, United Kingdom, says, "A farm stay offers a haven away from crowded holiday resorts with their rowdy revelers." Farm stays provide a peaceful environment, located in rural areas of the world, whether among prairies in the American Midwest or near the Dolomite mountain in Italy.

Staying at a farm gives you an incredible opportunity to connect with the land you're staying on.

A farm stay might bring you back in time, in the best of ways: "A lot of visitors comment that it reminds them of when they were children," Amanda adds. Scottie Jones, the founder of Farmstay and the owner of Leaping Lamb Farm in Alsea, Oregon, explains that "many seniors, me included, may have spent their childhood on a farm or growing up with ponies or chickens in the backyard. A farm stay can often be a trip back into something not only familiar but filled with wonderful memories."

Staying at a farm gives you an incredible opportunity to connect with the land you're staying on. Many farms provide their home-grown produce for visitors, from eggs to honey to milk straight from the cow (or goat). When my family has stayed on farms, we get to see directly where our food is coming from, which can be a nice change of pace for urbanites in particular. I can personally vouch that some of the food we've had from our farm stays has been some of the most delicious and fresh we get to eat all year.

When you stay at a working family farm, you help support local agriculture and tourism. Your stay gives a boost to the local economy and allows for small farms to remain sustainable.

Another lovely thing about a farm stay is it can be an ideal multigenerational experience. Grandchildren can frolic on the farm, parents can relax, and grandparents can enjoy a dose of nostalgia along with family time.

Types of Farm Stays

Many farm stays in the United States, Europe, Australia and elsewhere involve staying in a farmhouse or separate apartments on the farm property. Depending on the property, the rooms can be comparable to an upscale hotel, or rustic and minimal. You'll have an opportunity to check out the crops and animals on the farm, and sample what's been grown there.

Fresh fruit and vegetables and milk on a table. Next Avenue, farm holiday
Guests can enjoy the farm's produce and more  |  Credit: Naomi Kaye Honova

Some farm stays offer meals or breakfasts, and nearly all of them allow you to buy produce, dairy and eggs directly. If you're staying at a self-catering apartment on a farm, which is a popular option in Europe, you'll cook your own meals during your stay. Some farm stays will let you help out with some of the chores, such as feeding goats or picking vegetables. When I've done farm stays with my family, we've milked cows and harvested apples.

However, helping out with farm tasks isn't optional if you opt for a WWOOFing farm stay. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and matches farms together with volunteers. When you stay on a host farm, you're expected to help out with some tasks and chores on a daily basis, whether it's harvest assistance or animal care. In exchange, volunteers can stay there free of charge and are generally provided with some, or sometimes all, of their meals.

Vojtěch Veselý, who has hosted WWOOfers at the Biostatek farm in Valec, Czech Republic, comments that choosing to experience a working farm has concrete health benefits: "WWOOfing is based on organic principles," he points out, so guests don't come into contact with pesticides. "Working outside, fresh air helps you psychologically," he adds.

If you're on the hunt for a physically active holiday that's budget-friendly and helps support organic community agriculture, a WWOOF farm stay might be something to consider.


Things to Consider When Planning a Farm Stay

Farm stays are wonderful experiences, but if you have mobility issues, do take those into consideration before booking. "It's worth asking if there is a ground floor bedroom and accommodations for mobility issues," suggests Scottie Jones. Many older farmhouses have stairs, and on a larger farm there may be significant distances between buildings and fields. The farmers may still be able to make your stay as comfortable as possible, perhaps using a tractor or other vehicle to help you get around the property or providing collapsible folding chairs that can be taken along on a stroll.

A farm stay can be an addictive experience.

If you're sensitive to hay but still might want to hang out in the barn, make sure to bring antihistamines along. The same applies to any animal allergies or sensitivities. A lot of farms have dogs and cats who live on the property too, so it's a good idea to ask ahead of time if you have those specific allergies as it's possible that the pets might hang out in the building you'll be sleeping in. Also just bear in mind that since farms tend to be rural, if you have ongoing health issues, it may be a long drive from the nearest hospital. If that might be a concern, try looking into farm stays that are within short radiuses of healthcare facilities.

Last but not least, consider the time of year. Are you looking for a snowy winter wonderland experience, or possibly searching for the perfect fall getaway with stunning foliage and ripe pumpkins? Every time of year has something unique to offer on a farm, but weather conditions might impact your activities.

One thing I should warn you, though: a farm stay can be an addictive experience. Caution: you may find yourself going back for more, and I fully support that!

Naomi Kaye Honova
Naomi Kaye Honova is an American freelance writer based in Germany. She has written for numerous publications including Lonely Planet, Wine Enthusiast, TripSavvy, Nameberry and many others. She has an MSW in social work and enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking, trying new foods, dance and music. Read More
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