It may seem like kids these days exist on a diet of chicken nuggets, but there is another way. This month, family travel expert Kerri Zane uses her Window Seat or Aisle Seat column to introduce her daughters to agritourism. Find out how visiting and working on a farm can offer families a new understanding of food and the environment.
It’s dawn. The air is still crisp and quiet; the smell of the earth and dew wake my daughters and I from a comfortable sleep. We’re far from home but are far from homesick. We each slip on our jeans and boots and look outside. Through our window, there are lines of crops that just yesterday we helped with to harvest. Each of us marvels at how we feel more connected to the world, to the community, and to ourselves. This is the unique world of agritourism.
Agritourism is an ideal getaway for the family looking to try a new, immersive adventure. You and your children will get a hands-on opportunity to learn about the sustainable food and permaculture movements. It’s also an inexpensive way to see the world. Irene S. Levine, PhD, Psychologist and Professor of Psychiatry NYU School of Medicine and producer of the travel website MoreTimeToTravel.com suggests,
“An agritourism stay is a great way to teach children respect for another culture or way of life, appreciation of where their food comes from, and the importance of healthy eating and preserving the land for generations to come.” She concludes, “It offers the opportunity for each family member to get their hands dirty and contribute to a group effort.”
Sue Coppard, an English secretary began the concept of Agritourism in 1971. She understood the benefits of escaping a busy city life for the countryside once in a while and immerse oneself in the land. Today WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is the go-to website to learn more about these amazing work/stay exchange vacations. Agritourism is a growing international movement and WWOOF is the central listing for organizations around the world. You can choose visit destinations ranging from North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Volunteers and hosts do not pay each other. Instead, the farmer benefits from the extra help, and the volunteer benefits by having a unique, and potentially life-changing, experience. The visits can vary from one or two days to several months and in most all countries, despite a potentially lengthy stay, a tourist VISA is all you need.
Every farm in every region offers variety opportunities and experiences. Keep reading for a small sampling of what wwoofing around the world has to offer you and your family