Unplug On The Farm

Conviviality is in the air in Dava Parr’s large kitchen today as 5 women talk, laugh and touch food.  Parr’s garden was overflowing with spring greens so she harvested them for the women to cook with.  This morning they served up a farmhouse breakfast frittata with green garlic and local goat cheese, a stylish, gourmet meal that is 100% locally grown and organic. “We’ve lost our connection to the land and to the people," says Parr, Owner and Head Chef at Fresh & Wyld, a farmhouse inn and garden in Paonia, Colorado.

"It used to take 4 or 5 people to prepare an evening meal and that affects your heart and soul.  After a few days here, guests are completely relaxed and they don’t know why.”

Parr thinks that homesteading is a lost art, which is why she started offering Farm School Workshops, S.O.U.L Cooking classes and farmstay vacations on her property 3 years ago.  Paonia is named (although misspelled) for the vast array of peonie flowers in the area and has an eclectic population of just over 1600 farmers, artists and healers. Foodies will find themselves at home in her 7-room inn where they’ll be fed an organic breakfast or Friday-night, community dinner made from the vegetable gardens, chickens, berry patch and Heirloom Apple Trees on the farm.

In the last several years the Agritourism industry has exploded offering a range of accommodations and experiences from rural bed and breakfasts to ranches or cattle farms to stressed out singletons.  Farmstays have also become popular in Europe, Australia and New Zealand because they offer hands-on experience and are also an affordable option if you’re on a budget, especially if you’re interested in long-term travel.

33-year-old Elizabeth Roberts spent three weeks harvesting edible flowers and maintaining the micro mix at Adaptations farm in Kealakekua, Hawaii and credits the farmer with instilling a huge worth ethic in her, "I’ve never worked so hard in my life.  I worked 10 -12 hour days and I had the best muscles."

Roberts who has also worked on farms in Northern New Zealand loved not only that she met people from around the world, but also the transformative effect of her experience.

“Somehow seeing how much pride people take in creating things on their land.  Just the possibilities that exist. That you can literally take a piece of land that has been demolished and you can plant a vineyard, orchard or a build a stream.”

Check out the The Food, Farm, Film and Wine Festival in Paonia on August 14-15.  To find a farmstay in your area, check out www.BackToTheEarth.com, a directory of homesteading, farm stays and farm vacations or Yahoo’s International Directory.  For a working vacation, check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.