Friday, April 22, 2011
I got quite the education today.
Last autumn, my husband brought home a little postcard-sized advertisement. It was for a "U-Pick" farm several miles away. I found the card this morning as I was cleaning papers off my desk (since autumn, ugh!). I guess I didn't pay much attention to the card because we have our own garden every year. But even so, I was very tempted to try out the offer (although, it expired March 31, rats!). It's a very unique offer-- a "shared farm" offer. I looked up the farm online and did a little investigating, and LOVED what I found! Who knew hat my entire morning would be consumed in learning more about Upstate NY farms and "agritourism"!
The farm I researched is Ambrosia Farms, in Bridgewater, NY. Ambrosia Farms is much more than a family-run dairy farm that you whiz by as you're going to the next big city. They are part of "CSA"-- Community Supported Agriculture. They uniquely blend agriculture with tourism, or agritourism as it is recently known here in Upstate New York.
How intriguing! You can stay on a real, working farm-- off the grid, in a tent-- for a week, sharing farm duties if you wish, enjoying the farm life, and cooking heirloom vegetables over a cast iron stove by lantern light. You can take hikes on the hills and paddle a canoe along the Unadilla River... wow!
This is from the website FarmStayUS:
In the United States, the family farm has become a challenged institution since World War II. Yet, recently there has been a growing desire of many urbanites to reconnect with our rural countrysides. Where can we wake to the sounds of farm life, feed a bottle to a lamb, or brush a horse …even see the stars without city lights dimming their glow? We need to find our small family farms and ranches.
The term is 'farm stay'. The Europeans know it. The Aussies and Kiwis know it. Italy has its own name for it, 'agriturismo'. Surprisingly, American farmers and ranchers are new to the concept, so while there are travelers looking for rural experiences, there are not as many farms offering overnight accommodations.
Most of us offer breakfast on the farm. Other meals depend on how the farm is operated. Participation in chores is rarely required, however an extra hand is always welcome. Some farms offer classes in cheese making, spinning, gardening, cooking, even animal photography! ...What a farm stay is not is a bed & breakfast in an old farm house no longer part of a working farm or ranch.
I don't know about you, but this is my kind of vacation (even my kind of living!). To me, running around Disney World or Darien Lake, where a lot of time is spent standing in line or working toward game and sports trophies or beating back crowds of people to hurry up and do this or that is not a vacation. I'm usually more exhausted after such a vacation! A vacation to me is just SLOWING DOWN to enjoy life's beautiful moments. As I get older, this becomes more and more important to me.
Thus, the "farm stay" is extremely appealing to me. I don't know if we'll ever try it-- rates are a bit high and I'd need to save up quite a few pennies. But the money goes to a good place-- right back into the community--- and sustains a local farm, to boot.
In you're hankering to learn more, check out the website FeatherDown Farm Says USA. What an adventure this would be! I'll have to think about doing this sometime.
Photo courtesy of David Ball at Wikipedia.