Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Local food and farm stays

While my DH and I were in Grand Isle, a lovely island on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, we stopped at an inviting farmstand shop called Hackett's Orchard. We fell in love with the apple cider doughnuts, made fresh every morning, and the amazing variety of tomatoes! They also had fresh sweet corn, squashes, Vermont cheeses (including Neighborly Farms, producers of organic farmstead cheeses) and a very pretty black cat.

It was at Hackett's that I learned of the Vermont Farms! Association, which exists to "provide educational opportunities about agriculture to the public," according to its Web site. One thing that appealed to me was the opportunity for "farm stays," which offer guests at farm bed and breakfasts the opportunity to help out with some of the farm's chores during their stay.

With the decline of family farms, farm stays are an incredible opportunity to really get that much closer to the origin of food: the labor and care required to actually produce something to put on your dinner plate. Milking a cow, feeding goats and collecting eggs from chickens connects one to one's food and may even reinforce the fact that food doesn't magically appear in a plastic wrapper or Styrofoam carton. I'm hoping to do a farm stay vacation next year, myself.


Marcia Passos Duffy said...

Farm stays are great for kids as well! Did you know New England (and California) are at the forefront of the Farm Stays renaissance? I say "renaissance" because this used to be common 50 years ago when city folks would visit their country cousins in the summer. Today with only 2% of families actually living and working on farms chances are people don't have a "country cousin" with a farm.

Marcia Passos Duffy
Publisher & Editor
The Heart of New England & author
of "Farm Stays"

elenderel said...

I'm happy to hear that farm stays are enjoying a renaissance - I hope it's a tradition that never fades away. I have friends who are family farmers and while they don't do farm stays themselves, they work with young people to teach them about caring for the animals, the basics of food production and the joy (and work!) of producing wholesome food.