In 2007, I had the opportunity to stay at Knoll Farm in Vermont for a week with a group of very inspiring environmentalists. My daughter dubbed the adventure “Farm Camp” and it stuck. The forward-thinking Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation thought it would be a good idea for a few of us to go up to Knoll Farm, and while we were being bathed in the beauty of the natural environment of this working farm, our minds might open to solutions to some of the challenges facing our communities in terms of sustainability.
We meditated in a yurt every day and otherwise lived, ate and breathed a natural daily farm life, which had the effect of bringing all of us back in contact with simple priorities. We ate every meal in the barn in the picture above and spent many hours in the tent (under the rainbow) whittling our wooden spoons, while solving the problems of the world. Our discussions about community, sustainability, and all the elements involved in creating these things, evolved throughout the week – a brilliant way of putting us in a fertile (literally) environment where fresh ideas could grow and ripen.
I came home with a VERY refreshed perspective on everything and even 5 years later, feel the effects. We made wooden spoons while we were there, and I was given a gorgeous wooden bowl that I used for every meal during my stay at the farm. I still prefer to eat out of my wooden bowl from that week! It is a reminder of that connection to food, nature and community that I need frequently!
Since then, there are many wonderful farms that offer similar experiences on a variety of levels. You can focus on family, do more or less actual farming, go with a group, volunteer at an organic farm or go and be a student and learn about sustainable farming techniques.
If you have ever dreamed of being a farmer, this experience could be wonderful in either energizing that dream or making it clear that it is a fun experience for a vacation, but perhaps not as a vocation!
I found a wonderful website — FarmStayUS.com – that has a thorough listing of farms all over the country (including 3 in NJ!) that offer farm stay programs that range from $25 – over $200 per night. You can search farm stays that allow pets or accommodate children under 12 as well.
If you want to spend little or no money and be more involved, consider a WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – wwoofusa.org) experience. WWOOFing is a way to learn practical farming skills, be part of the organic agriculture movement, and experience the heart of American agrarian culture.
I highly recommend considering some type of “farm camp” experience for a meaningful alternative vacation this summer.
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April 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm
My great uncle owns a dairy farm and whenever my family takes a road trip up north I love visiting him and spending my days on the farm. It’s so tranquil and relaxing, he still uses the “old method” of milking cows and taking care of everything (he even has his old Model T car still – that actually runs!). It really makes you appreciate the beauty of life and how without modernization, things can get done pretty fast and taste a lot better (raw milk is delicious!). It’s hard work and he wakes up early and goes to bed late, but it’s fun and rewarding all the same.