Ohio farmers who want to stay in business take up hospitality

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer | August 17 2008

As reported by Sarah Crump , in the The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)  August 17, 2008:

“….The Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association, which has been around for 45 years, has 26 members throughout the state who welcome stay-over visitors, said Marcy Tudor, association president. She, husband Dale and son Nigel raise cattle and sheep and hope to start an organic grain business this year. But hosting visitors supports the family.

Seventeen years ago, they began renting two rooms in the former kitchen outbuilding of their 19th-century Weatherbury Farm southwest of Pittsburgh.

We began as a bed-and-breakfast, but people come to us because we are a farm,” said Marcy, whose family rebuilt a barn to house a room and two suites for guests paying $133 and up per night. The accommodations, surrounded by white-faced Hereford and shaggy Scottish Highland cattle and a mixed flock of sheep, some friendly goats and a parade of guinea fowl — as well as a swimming pool — are steadily booked throughout the year.

Every day, Dale, who retired from corporate marketing in 2001 to farm full time, takes Weatherbury Farm guests on a tour after they’ve had a big country breakfast prepared by Nigel. Kids can reach under fluffy hens to gather eggs and hold a chick. They pump water for goats and bottle-feed lambs, all in a space of about an hour.

Hardly anyone is going to get rich from farming, but if you love it, you have to do it,” said Dale, who grew up on a Pennsylvania farm and will spend the rest of his 15-hour day cutting and baling clover hay. The farming part of the Tudor business breaks even, he said. The hospitality portion provides the majority of the family’s income.

Like Pennsylvania, Ohio used to have a farm vacation association, but it disbanded long ago, Marcy Tudor said. Ohio agriculture experts don’t remember the state ever having one….”