Have you been thinking about diversifying to increase your farm income? If so, consider joining the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association. The association is looking for working farms that are willing to offer overnight accommodations and recreational facilities to visitors. Farm vacations can be a substantial supplement to your present farm income.
As family farms disappear from our landscape, city folks are becoming increasingly interested in learning about the culture and tradition of the agrarian lifestyle.
In addition to income, farm vacations present a unique educational opportunity to promote rural and urban understanding. Visitors learn about the day-to-day farm operation and often help with light chores. Farm families, 'travel' and gain insight through cultural and life experiences of guests.
Members in PFVA leverage their membership dues to receive the following benefits:
* Networking opportunities with member farms at our semi-annual meetings. Meetings are rotated around the state at member farms. Although most of our member farms also belong to local or regional associations, farms face unique opportunities and problem areas that can best be discussed with other farm vacation members
* Each farm has a page on the association’s website, https://www.pafarmstay.com (If you have a stand-alone website, it will be linked from your pafarmstay page)
* Facebook presence
* The website was created, May 1997, and maintains optimum visibility
* PFVA rack cards are updated annually. Rack cards are distributed to state welcome centers, tourist promotion agencies, PSU extension offices, Pennsylvania Farm Show and fairs across the state. Each farm also receives a supply of rack cards to give to farm guests and local businesses. A PDF of the rackcard is available on the association website, pafarmstay.com
* Advertising for PFVA (listing our website address) in publications and on-line. A quarterly e-newsletter is also mailed to subscribers
* PFVA exhibits: PA. Farm Show, PASA Conference, Cornucopia/Capital Rotunda, Philly Food and FarmFest, Habitat ManheimTwp. Earth Day, PCO Farmfest, Bloomsburg Fair, Perry County FarmFest, PSU PA. Women in Ag. Network
* PFVA is a member of PA State Council of Farm Organizations
* Guest speakers at meetings provide insight and information about regulations in the industry, new regulations being discussed, and where to get questions answered
* Up to date information about PA. Agritourism
Your farm has a story to tell and guests are listening. Every farm in PA. has its own rural signature. Stylized in crops of consumables, acres of seedlings, paddocks of livestock, flat acres of rowed fields or wooded, upland pastures.
35 million potential farm stay guests live within a 4 -6 hour drive of PA. Farms. Urban populations in PA. (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown) and adjacent states NJ., NY., MD, VA., Washington D.C. Ohio. Internet broadens that audience to nationwide and worldwide.
Increase your Farm's Yield:
Plant Seeds, Grow Memories, For a Smarter Harvest.
Guests will pay for an interactive on farm experience. Cultivate a wiser consumer with a first hand appreciation for your job to make their food happen.
PA. Farm Vacation Assoc. members are PA. farm stay guides. Inviting guests to look, listen, and get hands on…
Stay. Learn. Grow
Your farm vocation is a guest's farm vacation.
Vacation time is the anticipated downtime to engage in activities, see sights, and travel to places not experienced in day to day home life. Guests trade the city for country, virtual for real. A farm vacation finds the ‘kids’ in all generations.
PA. farms offer a diversity in terrain and agricultural product base across the state. From wines to maple syrup, honey, fruits, vegetables, livestock, dairy products, ancient grains, Christmas trees and spinning fibers to name a few. PA. is proactive in a state wide agri tourism campaign including vineyards, corn mazes, CSA's, farm markets including farm to table and of course farm stays.
Guests are looking for a spot to relax, unwind, and explore in PA. ‘country’. A vacation full of “first time I…” memories. Moments to capture with a tripod and lens, easel for oils, sketch pad for chalk, charcoal, or pastel. Whatever the medium, a PA farm stay can add color to a vacation palette.
Offer guest times when it suits your farm's schedule so you have time to spend time with guests. Weekdays, weekends, holidays or not. Spring, summer, fall, winter... Each farm decides the best season for their guest season.
Most farms have a minimum stay of 2 nights or charge extra for just one night. Farm stay is a destination, not just lodging. Most farms find it too time intensive to offer stays for less than 2 nights. Minimum and maximum stays are the decision of each individual farm.
The best time to join PFVA is now before 2018 rack cards are printed so your farm is added to the map. Rack cards are usually printed just annually in time for PA. Farm Show. However, an updated printing may be added if more than 2 farms become members by end of May 2018.
New PFVA farm members are added to the website year round, within days of joining (inspection completed, payment and forms submitted).
Any farm in PA. Or your farm's list of Things to Do Nearby.
On any country road, beyond the sidewalks, and street lights and bustle of city life.
Any farm where a vacation can make memories that last a lifetime.
Watch the sunrise, feed a calf, milk a cow, collect eggs, feel a feather, pet a bunny, groom a pony, hug a lamb, shear a sheep, sow seeds, pull weeds, feel the earth, fish a pond, see frog leap, dip toes in creek, watch a harvest by tractor or team, shop farmers market, dine on Amish fare, 'pick your own' berries, apples, pumpkins, try homestead skills: make bread, cheese, ice cream, soap, spinning felting canning, seek native and wild plants, watch pollinators at work: bees, butterflies, moths, bats and birds, listen to songbirds, watch eagle, kestrel and hawk soar overhead. At sunset toast mallows around campfire while fireflies flash under starlight, hear owls and bullfrogs chorus.
Your farm, the next farm on our PFVA member map.
Guests of all ages can enjoy a farm stay. Each farm decides the ages they will enjoy hosting. Some farms are not equipped for infant guests, etc. Your farm, your choice of best guests to host.
Farm activities can have approaches for all ages, all physical and mental capabilities… ways to get even the most 'out of my element' guest to overcome and see the smile of 'I did it'
Extended families with elders rekindling memories of their farming life. Retelling and showing their grands and great grands a side not seen in their present lifestyle.
Guests with 'bucket lists'. Simple, straight forward and safe of course is the guideline to filling the bucket. Some list items are better left to one's virtual imagination.
Guests from outside U.S. may be familiar with farmstay as a traditional part of vacation lodging in their home country. Hosts can 'travel' through conversation with culturally diverse guests. Campfire stories especially may harken to ancestral tales.
Share your farm, your stewardship of your land, your way to enrich and preserve the PA. farm way of life. Host guests in rooms in your home, or separate houses, cabins, cottages, campsites on your farm. Provide linens, towels, extra touches or have guests bring their own. Offer meal(s) or kitchen for guests to prepare their favorite dishes, or list the options for dining out to sample local cuisine.
Remind guests to: Pack to be outside: closed toe outdoor shoes, socks, outdoor clothes including long pants, hats, sunglasses, lightweight long sleeve shirts or jackets, insect repellent of choice, and sunscreen. Life on the farm is dependent on the weather, but the weather can be independent. Bring a book, a puzzle, a board game, explore the quaint shops, markets and local flavor of the countryside.
Do what you do best, live with the land and invite guests to do the same. Plant seeds that will grow a lifetime of memories, rooted in your farm's story.
Please contact me with further questions. We welcome your farm as a member in the PA Farm Vacation Association.
Bonnie Schubert, President of PFVA