Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Farm Visits are all the Rage. Are you In?

People who love and support organic farming and the small self-sustaining farms that this type of farming generally means, often worry about how difficult it can be to get such a farm to financially make it on its own. Usually, farmers who run such small farms need to look elsewhere for financial help to keep their farming ventures going. But these days, there's one new way that several small farms around the country have hit upon as a great source of income outside of the traditional crop-raising barn animal-tending paid farm activity they usually depend on – it’s called farm visit tourism.

Small farms possess this aura that people love – they make people who visit them feel like they've returned to a simpler, more wholesome time. One of the reasons the Paris Hilton-Nicole Ritchie reality show The Simple Life made it big was of course that personal magnetism of these two women; but it also succeeded because there's just something really attractive about the rural life that people like to look at.

Small farms have lately been trying to take full advantage of the image advantage they enjoy, by entering the farm visit tourism business. Many of them have opened up for business for little farm stay visits by tourists – bed-and-breakfasts, if you will. People who come on a farm visit or better still, who come to stay a weekend, find can indulge themselves in traditional rural entertainment and immerse themselves in the simple wholesomeness of it all. Entertainment could consist of learning to ride horses, learning about barn animals, finding one's way around corn mazes and whooping and hollering on zip lines around these places. Small farms that have been struggling to survive in the face of competition by large mechanized holdings have found that this kind of farm visit tourism can really bring in enough money to help them balance their books.

So how successful are these farm visit businesses? The Department of Agriculture estimates that small farm holdings actually bring in only 20% of their income every year from any actual farming. All the rest of it comes from either the bed-and-breakfast businesses they run, or from other jobs. There are at least 20,000 farm bed and breakfasts around the country (which the DoA unfortunately calls agritourism businesses). And each one of these farms makes at least £25,000 every year getting people to come and enjoy the rural lifestyle for a bit.

If you find that like lots of other city folk, you have an urge to get back to the land at least for the weekend every now and then, you should probably check out the FarmStayUS website which gives you a complete listing of many of the best farms around the country that allow you to come and stay. The site lists about 1000 farms and ranches at this point. If you are looking for a low-cost trip to such a place, you could actually have the time of your life staying for free by offering your labor to these farms in exchange for a bed. You can stay for as long as you want this way. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF would be one best websites to check out if you're interested in this kind of thing. There are actually about 10,000 Americans who've come on this website to go working at more than 1000 farms around the country. It can actually be pretty great.