" Marcy Tudor
welcomes about 600 guests a year to her family's 102-acre Weatherbury Farm in
Avella, Pa., about a 45-minute drive north of Pittsburgh. The way she sees it,
the experiences that she and her husband, Dale, offer are meaningful--especially
' When I grew up, my grandparents lived on a farm,' says Tudor, who is the
president of the 25-member Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association. 'Grandparents
don't live on the farm anymore. I think it's really important for kids to
experience that part of their heritage and to find out that food doesn't come
from the grocery store.'
Children staying at Weatherbury Farm can wander through meadows and gardens.
They can come nose to nose with cows, chickens and sheep. ' Farmer Dale '
teaches them about different pieces of farm equipment, though, because of
liability, they don't get to operate any.
While some of the Farm Vacation Association's members scattered around the state
raise dairy and beef cattle, others tend to more unusual creatures, such as
bison, elk, llamas and potbelly pigs. The association attempts to raise
awareness of farm-stay opportunities through press releases, a Web site and
Visitors who chose to head for the rural hills may find themselves enjoying
golfing, stargazing, hiking, antiquing, horseback riding, hunting or fishing on
or near their temporary farmsteads.
' All of our farms are different and that's what's great about them,' says Marcy
Tudor, who's been an association member for 13 years.
' What they have is very unique in the whole tourism industry, ' says Brant
Bickel, who is chief of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's brand new
Division of Economic Development and Agri Tourism.
Besides farm stays, the state is also trying to raise visitor awareness of
county fairs, farm markets, wineries and other agriculturally oriented
businesses. It's also offering new state grants and low interest loan programs
to farmers who may want to start agri-business ventures or expand their present
Farm Vacation Association members who've reported back to Bickel average about
500 visitors per year--a small number to the hotel and motel industry, but very
important to families seeking a way to augment their farm income.
Accommodations vary from rooms in bed and breakfasts to separate cabins and
homes built as far back as the 1700s. The Tudors, for instance, have just
finished moving a century-old barn from Washington, Pa., to their land. The
structure has been remodeled into three, two-story suites. It joins the two
rooms and summer kitchen already available to guests.
Prices at Weatherbury start at about $83 per night per couple, depending upon
the accommodations. Each additional person is $12.65 per night. Visitors tend to
stay two or three days, according to Tudor. And couples usually bring two or
three children to roam the farm.
' We mainly cater to families,' says Tudor. "