Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NY Hudson Valley's Sprout Creek Farm

The Perceptive Travel Blog's Antonia Malchik wrote a nice post about Sprout Creek Farm in New York's Hudson Valley. The farm is an educational/teaching farm first and foremost, but also produces lovely goat and cows milk cheeses. And they rent a three-bedroom cottage, only an hour from New York City.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frommer's features farm vacations

Frommer's (publishers of numerous travel guides and the travel website featured farm stays in the article "Back to Basics with Agritourism and Farm Vacations Across the U.S." It's great to see an article like this. Two points though: 1. I've seen many similar articles published in the last 5 years, and they usually mention the same 5-10 farms. There are so many other farm stays out there that deserve attention! You can find lots of them through the state agritourism links to the right. 2. The author writes, "there are what are called 'gentlemen's farms' that generally cater to those who enjoy the seemingly more masculine pursuits of hunting, fishing, and horse-riding." But "gentleman's farms" don't actually have anything to do with "masculine pursuits." The term is just another phrase for describing a hobby farm. In other words, the owner farms for pleasure rather than economics. Both "hobby farm" and "gentlemen's farm," I think, are a bit antiquated.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Farmers turn to agritourism to stay afloat

Vermont's dairies are struggling. Wholesale milk prices are the lowest they've been in 30 years -- low enough that the price doesn't even cover operating costs. An article in the Brattleboro Reformer talks about the dire plight of Vermont dairies, which are trying crop diversification and agritourism to remain solvent. Reporter Chris Garofolo highlights the Guilford, VT Gaines Farm which started a corn maze, and other farms that have turned to online sales, farm stands, and summer farm camps. Garofolo ends the article with this: "The Green Mountain State was home to 11,206 dairy farms in 1947, but that number has dropped steadily the last half century. There are now fewer than 1,500 dairy operations in Vermont." -------------------------------- Apple orchards in New York seem to be in a better situation, as all the rain has made for larger-than-normal and high-quality apples. U-pick sales, additionally, are up. Though the Poughkeepsie Journal article "Pick-your-own season looks promising for local orchards," by Sarah Bradshaw, still mentions the steady decline in the state's apple orchard acerage: "[in 2007] the state had 1,350 apple farms and about 50,000 acres, down from 53,000 acres in 2002 and 66,000 acres in 1997," it is, on the whole, very optimistic.

Apples ripen at Terhune Orchards in Salt Point. Thousands are expected to descend on the Hudson Valley to pick and purchase apples from local orchards.

Photo caption: Apples ripen at Terhune Orchards in Salt Point. Thousands are expected to descend on the Hudson Valley to pick and purchase apples from local orchards. (Karl Rabe/Poughkeepsie Journal) --------------------- Elsewhere in the northeast, the Blue Heron Organic Farm in Lincoln, MA is holding a festival and fundraiser in order to stay afloat and to fund a new greenhouse. The fundraiser will feature music, hayrides, and workshops.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Delaware u-pick apples and Maine corn mazes

You-pick apple orchards in Delaware, and agritourism in general, were the topic of a Delaware Online article today. And Maine corn mazes received similar positive attention in a Kennebec Journal article. Both articles stress the pleasant, family-friendly experiences people enjoy when they visit farms, as well as the benefits for farmers.
The United States Agricultural & Food Law and Policy blog asks: Can Agritourism Boost the Agriculture Industry? The answer, as you might guess, is a hopeful "yes."

-------------------- The Colorado Department of Agriculture holds an annual photo contest called "Colorado ... it's AgriCultural." Prizes are awarded in four areas: crops, livestock, people and agritourism. It's a nice idea that perhaps could be copied elsewhere. Agritourism, after all, is quite photogenic.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Feather Downs Farm Stays

Feather Downs, a Europe-based upscale farm stay chain that sets up participating farms with fancy platform tents and other amenities in exchange for a large portion of farm stay revenue, is getting quite of bit of press lately. First, the New York Times article, "$300 a Night, but Haying's Free," about a Feather Downs farm stay in New York, which you can read here on the Backyard Farming blog. Then, a piece from the Conde Nast Traveler Daily Traveler blog about how lovely and restful the Feather Downs farm stay accommodations are, particularly in this stressful economy. Particularly worth mentioning is this quote: "There are a number of different farms to chose from in rural spots like the Catskills and Illinois, and the company plans to have 20 to choose from in the next year." Sounds like the chain is growing fast. It's great that farm stays are getting press, but too bad that the journalists don't mention that there are plenty of more affordable farm stay options.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Jersey, Kentucky, and Utah agritourism

According to an article posted on, New Jersey lawmakers recently toured agritourism farms and discussed the creative strategies that farmers have used to survive pressure from urbanization in Middlesex and Mercer Counties. Apparently New Jersey's Department of Agriculture narrowly survived being slashed in last year by politicians in Trenton. This fall, says the article, "the state Legislature has voted to post a bond issue question on the ballot this fall that calls for voters to decided if the state should borrow $400 million to preserve open space, farmland, and historic areas." It will be interesting to see what the voters decide. ---------------- September is agritourism month in Kentucky. The Agricultural Commissioner, Richie Farmer (such an appropriate name) is encouraging Kentuckians to check out Kentucky's more than 300 destination farms at, where you can choose from lots of different farm types, including farm stays (look for the "Lodging" category). ----------------

Agritourism in the Pocono Mountains

The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau website also includes an agritourism guide. Alas, it lists no farm lodging options, but you can check out other varieties of agritourism in the area. ----------------- The Deseret News in Utah has a short article about agritourism and the 4th graders who tour an agri-tainment farm called Black Island Farms to learn where food comes from and to complement their science curriculum.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Michigan Agritourism and "Making Your Trip Green"

The Boston Globe published an article yesterday (9/13) called "Making Your Trip Green," on options for travelers to reduce their footprints. Agritourism is mentioned on the 3rd page. The short agritourism rundown mentions New England (in passing), California, specifically Sonoma County Farm Trails, and bicycle-touring agritourism in Southern Italy, with Virginia-based Ciclismo Classico.

Kim Schneider of the Grand Rapids Press News Service also wrote an article about fall activities, with a section dedicated to agritourism. You can read it here via the Michigan news site It's called "Fall: Football, farms, festivals, and foliage tours." That's a lot of F's!

Michigan agritourism sites mentioned in the article include, which has an online guide to farmers' markets and u-pick farms, and Michigan's official travel and tourism website, through which you can access a list of farms and mills. For apple aficionados, lists cider mills not only in Michigan but also elsewhere in the country, and apple tour routes are mapped out at

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The UK countryside: City of Culture?

Farm Stay UK, which promotes farm tourism in the United Kingdom and publishes a variety of guides and maps for over 1,200 UK farm stays, has entered a bid to make "the countryside" the UK's official City of Culture for 2013, claiming that the countryside just as culturally important as the UK's cities. Clever! The bid has attracted quite a bit of press for the organization.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Agritourism news

Some bits of agritourism news, from Oregon, Oklahoma, and Australia: A vineyard in Central Oregon will host an agritourism fair to support homeless children. From the article: "To help ensure all children in Deschutes County have access to basic-need services, the Heat? Or Eat? Benefit will be held on Sunday, October 4th at 3:00 pm at the Faith, Hope, and Charity Vineyard in Terrebonne. This fun, family event will feature several booths highlighting Terrebonne’s growing Agritourism industry. Educational displays will showcase the Crescent Moon Alpaca Ranch with alpacas to pet and learn about, Deep Canyon Preserve with information on Pheasant and Chucker hunts, a new Organic Vegetable Farm, local vineyards and a winery. There will also be a silent auction, horse-drawn wagon rides, wine tasting, art, and music provided by Erin Cole Baker and Casey Elliott. Beverages & hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Entry to the event is $10 and children under 12 are free." Some Oklahoma agritourism ventures are mentioned in this speech to the Poteau (LeFlore County) Chamber of Commerce concerning agritourism opportunities in the area: In Australia, a government organization called the Bureau of Rural Sciences is conducting a research project on the benefits and potential for growth for agri- and food tourism.