What Is A Farmstay?

As modern life grows increasingly chaotic, many travelers are forgoing jam-packed vacations full of big-city sightseeing in favor of a simpler and more relaxing experience. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds singing and enjoying a breakfast of fresh eggs and homemade jam before starting a sun-soaked day of fun on the farm. That's the kind of experience you can expect when you book a farmstay vacation. Farmstays are the perfect way to relax, unplug, and detach from the pressures of modern life. You may have heard the popular online saying "touch some grass," which is an encouragement to put down the phone and spend time in nature for mental wellness. Farmstays provide that perfect opportunity to reconnect with yourself and the earth. 

Farmstays, a unique subset of the ecotourism industry, are rapidly growing in popularity. More travelers than ever are choosing to spend their precious vacation time enjoying the outdoors and relaxing in nature since the pandemic, and the travel trend shows no signs of slowing down. National Parks are receiving record visitors, campgrounds are often fully booked, and Airbnb even reported that searches for "farm stays" increased 1,055% between 2019 and 2021.

If you're searching for a unique and relaxing vacation that allows you to spend your days breathing in the fresh air and hanging out with domestic farm animals — and you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty — it might be the perfect time to consider planning a farmstay vacation.

What is a farmstay?

Farmstays can look very different depending on the specific farm's specialties. Imagine spending a few hours wandering through fragrant lavender fields, milking cows, or picking fruit in an expansive orchard. 

Also known as agritourism, farmstays involve booking a vacation at a working farm and often emphasize sustainability and an eco-friendly lifestyle. Instead of sightseeing tours, shopping sprees, and nightlife, travelers can expect to experience all of the traditional charms of country life during their stay. Farmstays differ from voluntourism because guests pay for their stay. It is somewhat similar to staying at a bed and breakfast in which you enjoy meals with your hosts. Farmstays are usually located in rural settings on large properties where guests can enjoy picturesque natural scenery and spend plenty of time outdoors. Another thing that makes farmstay vacations special is the opportunity to get involved in the process of running the farm. You will often have the opportunity to help out with day-to-day operations in order to learn about agrarian life. 

Farmstays are often educational, and guests can learn valuable skills while experiencing the many aspects that go into food production and agriculture. The interactive element of agritourism helps it stand out as a unique vacation option. You can enjoy hands-on experiences like harvesting produce, feeding animals, and helping with chores. Most farmstays also include intimate experiences with your hosts, like family-style meals, workshops, and tours of the property.

Why stay on a farm?

While getting down and dirty on a farm might not be everyone's idea of a glamorous vacation, for many, it provides a welcome reprieve from city life and staring at screens all day. Agritourism is soaring in popularity probably because people worldwide are growing tired of the hustle and bustle and long to return to a simpler way of life, if only temporarily. For generations, American's enjoyed this lifestyle, and many long to experience what it's like to live a simple country life. Working with your hands, in harmony with the earth, can be a profound experience and can increase peace of mind and help reduce anxiety.

Some travelers may book a farmstay with their families to connect to their history. It's a great way to experience how your ancestors might have spent their days and can provide excellent opportunities to re-experience beloved childhood memories of summers spent on family farms. Others may choose a farmstay as a more eco-friendly vacation alternative.  

Aside from the nostalgic and emotional reasons one might want to experience life on a farm, you can also learn some incredible practical skills. You might go home inspired to finally start that garden or set up a compost system in your own home. You may even fall in love with the lifestyle and start your own homestead or small farm. Regardless of your reasons, a farmstay vacation will surely stand out as an unforgettable vacation.

What to look for in a farmstay

When choosing your farmstay, you'll want to consider a variety of factors. The best farmstays involve plenty of time spent relaxing and enjoying the idyllic country setting while offering interactive activities that allow you to experience life on the farm. Perhaps you want to try out "goat yoga" or explore the grounds via horseback. Eco-friendly practices and an emphasis on environmental stewardship are other factors that you should consider based on your personal values. 

You'll also want to ensure the lodging options fit your needs and expectations. Farmstay accommodations can vary quite a bit. Some may have primitive campsites available, while others may offer luxurious cabin rentals, yurts, or glamping set-ups. Unique options like covered wagons or treehouses can be fun for families with kids. Decide whether you want to opt for rustic or luxury lodgings before you begin your search.

Many farmstays include meals as part of the experience, which can be a major highlight for foodies who love unique farm-to-table dining. Some options even include cooking classes where you can learn how to prepare local ingredients and cook old-world family recipes. Are you hoping to have an educational experience in which you learn about the day-to-day farm operations or principles like permaculture and sustainability, or would you rather spend the days riding horses and picnicking on the grounds? Whichever option speaks to you, you'll surely find a farmstay to fit your tastes. 

Where you can find farmstays

Farmstays are currently being offered around the world. If you're looking for the perfect farmstay within the United States, Farmstay is a great place to start. Established in 2010, the online platform allows you to search for farms by location or activities you want to participate in. You can choose between options allowing you to milk cows, collect eggs, ride horses, or harvest food.

Airbnb is another excellent platform to search for farmstays. In May 2022, Airbnb launched a new search feature called Airbnb Categories (with "farms" as a category) in response to the trend towards unique stays. The popular vacation booking platform also created a "flexible" search feature where you can search for farmstays based on your dates instead of a choosing a particular location. The search feature allows you to see a complete list of international results. To browse agritourism destinations on Airbnb, visit airbnb.com/stays/farms.

On your farm vacation, you may find that you love the lifestyle and want to experience it for longer, without the commitment or responsibility of starting your very own farm. If you want to stay longer on a farm and cut travel costs, consider a work-stay opportunity that allows you to live on a farm in exchange for volunteer labor. You can browse options on sites like Workaway, WWOOF International, and HelpStay.