There’s not a whole lot I wish for in San Francisco. City-wide peace. Perhaps a sharkless surf. A mayor who actually cared about the murder rate. Maybe the odd snowstorm complete with school closings that wouldn’t actually affect me, but for which I would still get up at 6 AM to tune the radio appropriately. However, after re-watching one of my all-time favorite episodes of The Office, I now wish for Agri-Tourism.
The Bay Area is clearly the perfect place for a Schrute Farms bed and breakfast. Or The Stalk Inn, one of the cutest little asparagus farms you’ll ever see. Now, maybe visitors wouldn’t necessarily want to learn table-making from Dwight’s lapsed Amish and potentially psychotic cousin, Mose, or have Harry Potter read to them by the innkeeper himself, but tending to the beets? Digging the asparagus beds? I’d totally sign up for that!
Think about it: in our hungry quest to become one with our food, we already chat extensively with farmers, attend farm dinners, volunteer at some farms and visit others — clearly the next step is to sleep over at and work the farms themselves. Plenty of farms across the country already offer more than just a farm stand. Up in Philo, for example, The Apple Farm offers cooking classes, and in Hawaii, there’s at least one coffee farm that offers accommodations.
Can we pick the coffee beans? Can we help bring in the harvest? Surely willing guests could be trusted with the most mundane of farm tasks, if only to get a weekend taste of reveling in growing things and honest dirt. There are also locavore B&Bs to be found in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia where you can be sure to sup on locally-grown victuals. I also discovered that there are farmstays to be had in Lancaster County and in Canada. At some places you can learn a great deal about farming, along with holistic uses for herbs and vegetables, while other farms simply encourage you to participate in vegetable picking for the inn’s meals.
All of the above are great starts, but I’m looking for the same sort of intenseness you get from volunteering at Alemany Farm. A stay where you get covered in dirt and sore muscles from pulling weeds or harvesting beets. A stay where you go back to your soft room and take a long hot shower before settling down to a large farmhouse meal. A stay where you collapse into bed tired, happy, and knowing that you have sated something deeper than your stomach.