Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today Show features Berry Fields Farm

At Berry Fields Farm in Northeastern PA, Barbara and Charlie Gerlach raise Tamworth hogs, Boer goats, pastured poultry, and grass fed Hereford cattle. They offer a guest house that sleeps 2-10 and a farm to table dining room serving Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Canter Berry Tails Apple Ranch

Canter Berry Tails Apple Ranch is an 1820s, four-bedroom vacation home rental on a 51-acre apple and vegetable farm near Gettysburg, PA. The house is decorated with incredible care and detail, and owners Ted and Sandy take great pride in all they’ve done to restore the house. Each of the bedrooms has a theme: there is the garden room, the hunting and fishing room, the North room, and the South room. “Each mattress,” says Ted, “will fit different people. Some are firmer; some are softer … and with the decorating, we try to give everybody something they can relate to.”

Much of the house is furnished with auction purchases and yard sale finds: there’s a kitchen wall covered with cast iron trivets, a glass-door cabinet full of whimsical antique food containers, and an antique desk that holds old postcards that guests can use for sending notes to friends. Sandy intricately hand stenciled many of the rooms, and hand stitched dresses worn by wire mannequins in two of the bedrooms. Additionally, the house has a laundry room, and a stocked kitchen with a dishwasher.

Ted and Sandy have also added cable tv, phones, games, and videotapes for guests. They tell guests not to bring anything so as to take advantage of all the games they have there. “I know you want to entertain yourselves,” Ted tells guests, “but we give you all the games in the world.” Ted and Sandy also have made sure everything is secure and safe for children who visit. They tell guests: “It’s ok if something breaks, just let us know so we can replace it. If you can’t live here, and eat here, and entertain here, there’s something wrong. It’s your house as long as you are here!”

Ted and Sandy say they are happy to invite guests into their own home to share a meal, at no extra cost. Guests can pick whatever they like in the orchard, and Sandy welcomes everyone to u-pick the vegetables in her garden. There are also chickens on the farm, and guests can help gather eggs. Ted says he always invites help on the farm, and for guests who want to stay and pick, he says, “We’ll put you on the payroll!”

Ted has spent 21 years farming at Canter Berry Tails Apple Ranch. He is now retired from working as a welder in the steel mills in New Jersey, but for years he would travel back and forth between the mills in New Jersey and his farm in Pennsylvania. Before buying the Apple Ranch, Ted helped his father run a truck farm in New Jersey. He lost the New Jersey farm when his father died, and though he tried to get it back, the farm was too expensive.

When he couldn’t afford farmland in New Jersey, Ted ended up looking for a farm in South Central Pennsylvania where the land was more affordable. Now, says Ted, he would no longer be able to afford farmland in the Gettysburg area, either. Due to farm economics and development pressure, he says, many of the farms in the area have gone out of business and/or been sold to developers.

On the farm’s 36-acre orchard, Ted grows Asian pears and seven varieties of apples. On 15 more acres, he grows sweet corn, pumpkins, and tomatoes. He direct markets the harvest through u-pick, an onsite farm stand, and local campgrounds. Musselman’s, an apple processing company down the road, buys the rest of the apple crop.

For guests who’d like to venture away from the Apple Ranch, there is a dairy farm next door, and the farmer lets guests come over and tour his farm. Sandy’s daughter, whose farm is five minutes away by car, has alpacas, and also welcomes guests to visit. Sandy and her daughter are both avid spinners.

If you go:
Canter Berry Tails Apple Ranch is open year round. A state park nine miles away offers swimming, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling. In the winter, guests can also ski at nearby Round Top. Year round, nearby Gettysburg offers lots of activities, particular for people interested in the Civil War. Rates for the four-bedroom vacation rental start at $275/night, weekdays, and decrease with longer stays. Children are welcome.

Ted Abahazy
989 Center Mills Road
Aspers, PA 17304  

Phone: (717) 677-8900

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Farm Stay U.S. Launch

I'm excited to announce the launch of a beautiful new website called Farm Stay U.S. It's the brainchild of farm stay owner Scottie Jones of Leaping Lamb Farm Stay in Alsea, Oregon. The site is funded in part by a USDA SARE grant.
Scottie has loads of farm stays already on the map, but she's looking for more. If you know of any she should add, let her know.

Scottie and I will be collaborating in a few ways. I'll be guest blogging for her site, and we're co-presenting at the TIES Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in Portland, OR from September 8-10, 2010. Very exciting!