City Slickers And Farmers Profit From Farm Stays

Lancaster Farmer | April 12, 2002

As reported by Lou Ann Good, in the Lancaster Farmer April 12, 2002:

” Farm Stays give farmers a chance to meet people from all walks of life and make extra money on the side,” said Marcy Tudor.

As the president of the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association, Inc., Tudor is a vocal advertisement of the program that offers city and suburban residents a chance to leave stress behind and escape to the peace and quiet of the country. She, her husband Dale, and son Nigel operate a 104-acre farm where guests from around the world get a taste of a working farm.

“This is a way to help the farmer keep the farm,” Tudor said of the financial benefits of the Farm Stay program.

But even more satisfying than monetary rewards for Tudor and other farm owners participating in the program are establishing friendships with guests from around the world.

“I get to travel the world without leaving my breakfast table,” Tudor said.

Tudor compiles remarks about guests’ farm visits. Typical of the remarks are some version of the sentiments, “my best vacation ever,” and “perfect place to escape the maddening crowd.”

Each of the 24 farms listed in the Association’s Guide offer their own unique flavors. Some places offer hands-on petting zoos, others require visitors to watch farm activity from a distance. Some serve a full breakfast like Tudor does, but that isn’t a requirement for Farm Stays. Bonnie Schubert said, “I homeschool six children and it’s enough to get them fed without cooking for guests.”

So visitors at Hummerhaven Farmstead, Juniata County, are on their own for breakfast but quite involved in day-to-day activities. It’s difficult to discern who enjoys the Farm stay program more _ Bonnie, her husband Gary, and their six or the guests.

“I tell them to plan to get dirty and bring their old clothes,” Schubert said. Their 127-acre farm is a child’s paradise. Llamas, mini donkeys, babydoll sheep, dwarf goats, bunnies, kitties, and even potbelly pigs are their for petting and snuggling. Fish in the pond, canoe or paddleboat down the
river, explore woodland trails “to lose the world and find yourself.”

Not all places cater to little ones or are a working farm. Charlie and Bunny Yinger operate the Strawberry Patch Bed and Breakfast set on 10 acres in Lebanon County. The recently-constructed log home with six large guests rooms, private baths, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs offers a large tea room to hold weddings, special events, and retreats. The Yingers boast the largest collection of Strawberry Shortcake items anywhere. Bunny said it took insurance appraisers two days cataloging their collection. They also have every strawberry-related item imaginable.

“If there is another one anywhere, we aren’t aware of it,” she said.

The Yingers also market their own house dressing and strawberry jelly to guests. A portion of the profits from the Strawberry Patch are donated to the Make A Wish Foundation.

In addition to typical bed and breakfast lodging, Barry and Linda Vance offer special events such as bicycle weekends and even murder mystery weekends.

Linda said their 1820 stone farm home has been the site of wedding receptions, and retreats. Located on 42 acres within easy access to Penn State, Raystown Lake, antiques, caves, trails, and amusement parks, there is plenty to do. The Vances welcome help with morning chores. Gathering eggs, checking bee hives, and putting away hay are some of guests’ favorite chores.

Tudor said that farm visits have been brisk since Sept. 11. “People see rural areas as safer places to go.”

The Tudors raise Hereford cattle, a small herd of Scottish Highland cattle, a flock of registered Southdown sheep, and Arauncana and bantam chickens at Weatherbury Farm. To help guests understand about farm life, Tudor published a booklet “Everything You Have Always Wanted To Know About Weatherbury Farm.”

The booklet offers a bit of interesting history, activities, possibilities, and farm safety rules. A chapter on “”Farming Spoken Here” defines such words as cow, bull, yearling, steer, and ag terminology such as crossbreeding and polled.

Many guests pay $3 to purchase a recipe booklet filled with Tudor’s breakfast recipes to please the most discriminating tastes. Recipes include impressive entrees such as Creamy Peach-Filled French Toast and the sure-to-appeal-to-the-kids to whom the farm caters_Green Eggs, No Ham.

For the curious, here is her recipe.
Green Eggs, No Ham

15 eggs
1 cup milk
1 small onion quartered
green pepper, seeded, halved
6-ounces mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Swiss cheese

Put eggs, 1 cup milk, onion, and green pepper into blender. Process at “chop” until onion and green pepper are finely chopped.

Pour into skillet and cook over medium-high heat to scramble eggs. Remove eggs to quart-greased casserole.

Mix mushroom soup and 1/4 cup milk. Spoon over eggs. Top with cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.