filed under: education, food, gardening, green holiday ideas for kids
1. Hamilton Farm, Whitefield, Maine
Hamilton Farm is an organic, family-run farm focusing on simple living and sustainability. From hiking and birdwatching to cheesemaking workshops, organic turkeys to hand-making goats’ milk soap, there is plenty to see and do during your stay. The farmstay accommodation sleeps up to five people in a charming, rustic cabin. To help you realize you are truly getting away from it all, the cabin is candlelit at night, and has a sun shower and a newly built outhouse – be sure to bring a torch! A farm-fresh breakfast for two is included in the price, with additional guest breakfasts available for a modest extra fee. Breakfast is likely to include a plate of farm-fresh eggs, steaming home-made biscuits, fresh strawberry jam and large mug of goat milk chai. The farm raises turkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, and chickens, so there are always plenty of baby animals to steal visitors’ hearts.
2. Kinnikinnick Feather Down Farm, Caledonia, Illinois
Kinnikinnick Farm is a small, family owned, certified organic farm located 85 miles north-west of Chicago in the gently rolling hills of northern Illinois, just south of the Wisconsin border. Kinnikinnick has been in continuous production since 1849 and the original log cabin makes up part of the nineteenth century farmhouse. Guest accommodation is available from mid-May to mid-October in “rustically elegant” Feather Down canvas tents that feature wooden floors, a wood stove and sleeping for six. The tents are self-catering, but farm fresh and local produce is available for purchase on site, and cooking pots, crockery and utensils are provided. As a working farm, guests can participate as much or as little as they like in activities, from just watching to rolling up sleeves and helping with farm chores, harvesting crops, tending the farm’s own garden, feeding animals, or simply gathering eggs. Kinnikinnick sells its produce directly to Chicago chefs and at farmers’ markets. The farm raises poultry and pork, and grows a wide variety of greens, heirloom tomatoes, root crops, and seasonal vegetables starting with asparagus and snap peas in the Spring and ending with butternut squash and sun-chokes in the Fall, with a particular focus on Italian varietals.
3. Farm Sanctuary, New York and California
Farm Sanctuary offers a unique perspective in this list: it’s a shelter farm for rescued farm animals and it has a strict vegan meals policy. All animals on the sanctuary have been rescued from stockyards, factory farms, and slaughterhouses, and receive lifelong care, as well as plenty of love and cuddles from visitors. Farm Sanctuary runs three farms, a 175-acre farm in Watkin’s Glen, upstate New York, a 300-acre farm in Orland, northern California, and a 26-acre farm in Acton, southern California. They also provide information about factory farming practices, offer an animal adoption service, and accept volunteers. The New York state sanctuary is home to over 500 animals, and B&B guests stay in spacious cabins and can pitch in with chores around the property. Accommodation is available at a very reasonable rate to members only, but membership is gained by making a minimum $20 donation to the sanctuary, which allows you to reserve accommodation on the spot.
RELATED | The Gentle Barn Farm Sanctuary Rehabilitates Animals that in-turn Help Heal At Risk Children
4. The Jungle Farmhouse, Puna, Hawaii
Moving away from the U.S. mainland, if you want a Hawaiian getaway with a difference, The Jungle Farmhouse sleeps up to eight people and is located in the heart of the Puna District on the east side of Hawaii Island. The 2.5-acre farm is a small, sustainable organic farm run on permaculture principles, and it provides food for the owners and their guests at both the farmhouse and their B&B in Hilo. Here you can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the farm, and it’s just minutes away from Kehena Black Sand Beach, Lava Tree Park, thermal warm ponds, steam vents, and snorkeling at the Kapoho Tide Pools. The farm produces over 100 eggs a week from a variety of free-ranging chickens and ducks, and is home to an adorable pair of Nubian goats. It also grows fresh avocados, tangerines, passion fruit, pineapple, papaya, bananas, herbs, vegetables and coffee. The farmhouse was built in 1970 and is decorated in picture-perfect Hawaiian retro style (there’s even an LP player and a stack of classic Hawaiian records). There’s also an outdoor solar shower, solar and wind power, and snorkeling gear you can borrow, plus it’s close to all amenities, including a farmers’ market and natural food store.
For more U.S. organic farmstays, see here.
5. Varzea da Gonçala, Algarve, Portugal
Varzea da Gonçala is a smallhold permaculture farm on the beautiful west Algarve coast of Portugal, which is famed for spectacular surf beaches. Nestled in a valley, the 20-acre farm has been owned by the Lewis family since 2006. After several years of restoration work on the depleted land, the farm produces fresh, seasonal, organic fruit and vegetables, as well as eggs, all farmed within an ecosystem of native holm oaks, carobs, loquats and olives. The Lewises have made the property a “paradise for children,” with many places to play and explore, including a play area with climbing frames, ropes, swings and slides, a spectacular treehouse, an outdoor chess board, and a paddling pool and sand-pit for the littlest ones. You can also swim in the adjacent river and those beaches are not far away at all! Accommodation consists of two traditional, rammed earth farmhouse cottages, each with two bedrooms and capable of accommodating a family of five or six. The cottages have fully-equipped kitchens and there are also barbecue facilities. The Lewises will be happy to show guests around their various projects and permaculture works. They also host projected film nights for kids, and documentary films for adults, and there is a communal space where all are invited to share food, experiences and music.
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