Agritourism: Farmstay Vacations for Total Rural Bliss

Do you dream of experiencing what daily life is like on a traditional family farm? Ever thought about ditching the city crowds and traveling to some of the world’s most beautiful rural areas for your next family trip? Perhaps you’d like to spend a few days at a cozy cottage in the European countryside with the kids. . .

There is an ever-growing market for vacations centered around rural communities. In places where farming is still a way of life, many working farms and family ranches are getting involved with what is known as agritourism – a special type of tourism where travelers visit working farms and take part in agricultural based activities. But it’s much more than that…

Your family can have an authentic vacation experience that doesn’t cost a fortune. One where you get to meet people and experience new cultures – in an incredibly authentic way. You’ll even get to eat naturally grown foods and try your hand at some old-fashioned farm work. Sound intriguing? All this and more are possible thanks to agritourism.

Origins and Growth of Agritourism

The term, which originated in Italy as agriturismo, was at first primarily associated with farmstay vacations, a type of travel where tourists stay at working farms. This proved to be beneficial for farmers who could earn some extra income by letting people get involved with their daily operations. It also proved to be an appealing alternative for vacationers looking to stay outside of the city.

With traditional farmstays, visitors get to dine on freshly-prepared food that’s grown and harvested on site. Usually they can purchase fruits, vegetables, oils and other products cultivated on the farms as well. These items can be extremely affordable since they’re sold directly from farm to the buyer!

As the practice of agriturismo spread to other countries, it began to encompass a broader range of activities. Many destinations offer fruit and vegetable picking. Others welcome guests to get involved with some of the everyday chores of traditional ranch life. Some places go so far as to offer classes on everything from goat milking to spinning, while others operate primarily as bed and breakfast establishments.

Agritourism in The United States

The United States has opportunities for farm stays and other agritourism experiences in just about every region. The west coast has lots to choose from, especially in California due to the abundance of fruit orchards and vineyards. Hawaii was one of the first states to really embraced agritourism, with a good number of coffee farms and sugar plantations inviting tourists to come stay.

More and more family farms in Southern states like Virginia and North Carolina are also welcoming tourists. Head north and you’ll find that many of the Amish communities in Pennsylvania operate bed and breakfasts in their homes. Look to New York and Massachusetts for farm stay options in New England. There are even opportunities as far northeast as Vermont and Maine.

Agritourism Abroad

Europe’s agricultural tourism hotspots are France, Italy, and Spain. France is known for its gîtes, which are small holiday homes available for rent. Italy, where agriturismo started, has lots of farmhouses to choose from. Spain is known for its casa rurales (rural cottages) where families will live among various farm animals, and sometimes with the owners of the property.

The Philippines is another country that has turned to the agritourism industry as a way to generate economic growth. As more travelers are recognizing the potential of some of the country’s beaches and cities, they are also heading out to the pineapple plantations and local food markets. Taiwan is another option if you are looking for a foreign farm stay outside of Europe, thanks to its many “leisure farms”.

Farmers and Communities

Staying in the countryside, experiencing a traditional rural lifestyle firsthand, and delighting in fresh, naturally grown food products is what attracts tourists. But the agritourism experience involves more than just staying on a farm.

Agritourism places farmers and communities in contact with one another and reestablishes a bond that has been broken by supermarket chains and processed food suppliers. Kids will delight in picking their own peaches and apples right off the branch. Families can savor freshly-cooked farm-to-table meals. Best of all, children will discover the true definition of “fresh” food!

Thanks to agritourism, farmers are able to educate the public and get people interested in buying from local farms instead of grocery stores. Seeing how food is produced also stimulates public interest in where food comes from and how it was cultivated. This, in turn, increases the demand for farm fresh food products.

The best part for families is that they will get to see the work that goes behind farming and begin to develop a greater appreciation and understanding of self-sustainability and living in harmony with the land. What more could you ask for? Get with the trend and make your next vacation one to remember by taking the agritourist approach!

What agritourism destinations would you like to visit? We’d like to know!

Tags : travel   agritourism   

Nancy Melamed
What an awesome idea.