If you visit Great Britain, you probably WON'T be spending much time in the countryside. Foot and mouth disease has put rural areas of England, Scotland and Ireland off limits. But despite the current crisis, our Savvy Traveler, Rudy Maxa, says farms elsewhere have become a destination for many travelers looking for an unusual kind of vacation.
How are you going to keep 'em down on the farm when they've seen Paris? Or New York or London? In fact, a farm might be exactly what you need for a vacation. It's called "agritourism," and it's a growing trend in travel from New England to Tuscany, New Zealand and Kenya. Farms open their doors to visitors, who wake up with the roosters and share tables with families.
In the US, where big farms are swallowing family operations, hosting tourists is often a way for small farmers to earn much-needed money. For the traveler, living, eating and (sometimes) working on a farm is a great way to experience an intimacy with the locals that can be missing on a package tour or hotel stay.
Some farm visits are structured, and guests pay rock-bottom prices for helping out an hour or so each day on Green Acres. But in most cases, a farm vacation is more like staying at a bed and breakfast with animals.
The Hall family of New Jersey first decided to take a farm vacation on Bob and Beth Kinnett's Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester, Vermont, nine years ago. Their daughter was four then, and the Halls wanted to experience a different kind of vacation. They've been going back every year since, and now they take up to 15 friends and monopolize the farm.
So how do you find these places? Vermont has a web site dedicated entirely to farm vacations. In fact, we'll put links to agritourism opportunities around the world on our web site at marketplace-dot-org. Rates at Liberty Hill Farm including room, breakfast and dinner are $70 per adult per night, $30 per child under 12. You may have to share a bathroom.
Check into Our Farm-Park in Puhoi on New Zealand's North Island, and you'll pay only $47 a night for a double room including breakfast.
Carol Joy Nelson of Raleigh, NC, stays at a farmhouse near the Tuscan village of Priello in Italy. For $65 a night, it's the best of both worlds, she says-"You have the comforts and amenities of a regular inn or bed and breakfast with the simple down-to-earth pleasures of a real farm. She takes driving trips to popular towns such as Florence, Sienna, and Assisi.
And that seems to be the main lure of a farm stay: You are part of a place, not a guest in a hotel room. Maybe this summer it's time for you to consider a rural holiday. I'm told you can actually breathe the air.
I'm Rudy Maxa from the Savvy Traveler for Marketplace.
Web sites of interest to the agritourist:
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