They have been common in Europe for years, but interest in farm stays or farm vacations is just now growing in the United States, says Scottie Jones. She has run her own farm-stay operation, Leaping Lamb Farm in Oregon, for seven years. Two years ago, she launched farmstayus.com, a website to educate the public about farm stays and serve as a directory of farm-stay facilities around the country.
The site lists working farms that also have lodging, whether it’s a B&B, an extra room in the farmhouse or even a yurt or tent. Farm-stay guests are generally looking for a different kind of vacation, where they can get their hands dirty or simply enjoy the bucolic setting. Many, she says, are looking to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with nature — nearly 30 percent of her farm-stay guests are professionals in the technology field.
“It’s like going to the farmers market, but you’re going home with the farmer and staying there overnight,” she said. “You not only get to eat good food, but you get to see how it was grown.”
Pagett Farm in Palermo began offering farm stays at its 63-acre organic meat farm in 2010, Pam Page said.
“We wanted to share the farm experience with other people,” Page said.
She and her husband, Don Barrett, purchased a platform tent for $12,000 and a yurt for $20,000. The 12-by-14-foot tent includes a queen-size bed, a composting toilet, running water, fireplace and deck. The 20-foot yurt also has its own private bath, kitchenette and stove. “It’s really not roughing it at all,” Page said.
She said they’re still working on the best ways to market the units, but they’ve had 20 groups since 2010, including a lot of out-of-staters. Some guests assist in farm activities while others relax or take day trips to the coast. Rates range from $149 per night for the tent to $164 per night for the yurt.
While farm stays offer an education and a respite for guests, they’re also a necessary income source for many farmers.
“Farming is not very profitable, so it was a way for us to keep the family farm,” Page said.