Monday, December 7, 2009

D Acres of New Hampshire - Interview

D Acres of New Hampshire Organic Farm and Educational Homestead
is a diverse nonprofit that hosts year round events and workshops on topics like food, ecological construction, gardening, blacksmithing, and woodworking. Located on 180 primarily forested acres, D Acres welcomes a range of workers and guests for its internships, apprenticeships, and hostel. Hostel guests can choose from camping on tent platforms, sleeping on the floor of the large yoga room, or three beautiful private bedrooms in the spacious Community Building. Prices range from $10 to $65. Guests are encouraged to tour the farm and gardens with a staff member. In the winter, snowshoe rentals are available, and miles of groomed trails provide excellent cross country skiing. In the summer, the trails are open to mountain bikers and hikers. Rumney Crag, a world-class rock climbing destination only 10 miles from the farm, also lures scores of climbers to the area. D Acres offers guests an organic, farm-fresh breakfast or dinner for an additional $10 each, per person.

I worked at D Acres' Garden Manager in 2005. Because D Acres has such an interesting farm stay model - it's the only one I know about that operates as a hostel and offers such a wide range of accommodations - I recently asked Executive Director Josh Trought to reflect on D Acres' experience running the hostel.

MN: When did D Acres open its hostel?
JT: 2003

MN: What was the reason for opening the hostel?
JT: To increase exposure for the educational aspects of this farm system model, increase cultural exchange, directly market value-added agricultural products, utilize available resources, and to increase revenue.

MN: How has the farm/hostel changed over the years?
JT: We've gained a higher comfort level with the uncertainties of life, and introduced more marketing and administrative efficiencies.

MN: What have been your greatest successes and challenges with the hostel?
JT: Successes--the food has been the greatest success, and the revelations people have had from flavor produced through sustainable production. We've also had great multinational bonfires and music. The biggest challenges have come when people from metropolitian areas perceived the staff as servants, wanting coffee and cell phone service and the ability to arrive after midnight.

MN: What would you like guests to come away with after staying at D Acres?
JT: To understand the value of local, sustainable food and of a farm system that includes equitable divisions of labor and decision making.

MN: What advice do you have for other farmers thinking about offering overnight lodging for guests?
JT: Visit other farms that offer lodging, practice with friends and volunteers, be hospitable though don't forget who the farmers are and why you are there...this is a showcase for value adding your greatest goods and services--the FARM.

All photos courtesy D Acres of New Hampshire

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