women's working on farm "vacation"

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by syringaweb, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    Hello all,
    There are 2 "high dollar" farms for sale in our area. Our county is a small, waterfront area, being hit hard by the "buy, subdivide, give it a cute name, sell lots" initiative.
    I have a huge preservationist instinct to try to buy one of these places. As just a home, beyond our budget. It would be about convincing a bank, or maybe a grant giving organization (both are somewhat historical places).
    OK: my most recent brainstorm: a women's (or either sex I guess, but since I'm female I could cater better) working farm spa/vacation spot. You know, a group of city women come for the week, stay in the barn apartment, do garden work, attend self-help classes, do yoga, learn how to knit, gather eggs, etc.
    Anybody know anybody else with experience along these lines, know any websites I could look at?
    :) As I feel it coming already: no pessimistic criticism accepted, I'll wait to receive that from the guy with comb-over hair at the bank!
    I'm not a "dreamy, romantic about farming" kind of girl, I'm just trying to think of creative ways to make a farm pay for itself.
    thanks and Happy New Year to all!
     
  2. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    Oh MARTHA!!!! :haha: :haha: Sorry I couldn't help,sounds like a plan.

    big rockpile
     

  3. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    It could definetly work. The marketing would be a big part of your budget as to make it work you need people with money. Once you got them there you would have to have a well planned program and something unique. Obviously it would entail lot's of work way and above just running a farm of that size.
     
  4. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    ok rockpile, with the Martha remarks, if I had a rock I'd throw one at you!

    :D MY advantage is I know NOTHING about the stockmarket....
    so I'll hold on to all my millions thank you very much!
     
  5. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what high dollar is but a couple thoughts come to mind. You might see if there is a preservation group interested in an agricultural easement. If there is any interest you then have the issue of terms of the easement. Not meaning to be pessimistic (think of this as realism) but I don't think there are any groups that are going to just hand you money as a grant. Purchase of an easement is about as close as it would get.

    You don't indicate if the farms are currently producing and you don't indicate whether you have experience. Can you come up with a business plan that will continue generating revenue (or even increasing it) from current products? Consider the additional expenses such as insurance that are associated with your proposed venture. Is there timber on the farm that can be selectively harvested to reduce the amount owed on the property? (Understand that most conventional farm mortgages carry a clause requiring the lenders permission to sell timber and not pay it towards the mortgage.) Just a thought.

    Also, if the farm has old/antique implements or equipment you might be able to raise some extra money selling those.

    I think it's possible for you to make the farm/spa idea work but you need to be prepared to invest in the "spa" type facilities. I have a feeling that most people taking a vacation will quickly feel disenchanted shoveling manure/ doing real farm work. If you have hay (or do other things that are time sensitive) to make you won't have time to babysit guests. The difference between getting that hay stored/sold or not could mean $1,000s of dollars to you (I learned that the hard way this summer). That guest is paying how much?...certainly not enough for you not to get the farm work done. Think additional staff to entertain guests and then operate the farm as a farm. Over time you'll figure out how much work guests actually do.

    That show "The Simple Life" is almost a spoof but consider them your nightmare guests from hell.

    Please don't take any of this as pessimism. I'm just speaking as someone who is working at creating a farmstead (I think this more closely describes what I'm doing than homesteading) I just think you need to understand that there are a lot of extra things to consider if it is more than a home.

    You are less likely to get the pessimism from the guy at the bank (If it is agricultural I would go to someone like FCS before I would go to the bank) if you have a realistic business plan, give concrete timetables, investment required,cash flow estimates,etc.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  6. deberosa

    deberosa SW Virginia Gourd Farmer!

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    Thanks for sharing what I think is a great idea! Now you've got me thinking - maybe some travel trailers on the site for accomodations and a nice pieceful week on the farm.

    Up until this past year I was one of those women who would have paid top dollar for a vacation get away like that. :) I could market that idea too.

    Something to add to it is creating some kind of project for the week. One vacation I have almost tried is a week learning how to carve a carousel horse or a week of stencil classes.
     
  7. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    milking a goat or cow, making cheese classes, soap making classes, knitting, crocheting classes, sewing classes. (butchering classes) herb gorwing, drying, preserving. Canning classes, rose pruning and care classes, Bonsi classes, ...
    most of which you don't even need to have any one stay over...unless of course you have a bed and breakfast working farm!
     
  8. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    Well I finally posted a subject that sparked people to reply, and thanks for all the great ones so far!
    Mike: your 2 cents worth is worth a lot more! All points I am very practically aware of and knowledgeable about. I think farmstead applies to my thinking, as well. All the "extra things" do tread heavily on the brain in a hurry.
    I've considered the easement thing. I'm familiar with grant applications through local non profit groups. One of the farms has a large barn and outbuildings, all in good quality. It is currently about 50/50 wooded/established forage.
    Ok, everybdy keep those brainstorms going!
     
  9. Elffriend

    Elffriend Well-Known Member

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    Consider opening up to younger people and not just adults. There are Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and some homeschoolers who would love an opportunity to learn things on the farm.
     
  10. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    I think you have a very viable idea. I don’t know what state you are in, but here in NY you get substantial tax credits for having a farming business - so long as it is your main business. Your first stop is not the bank, but rather your local small business development office. You need someone to help you write up a business plan and tell you how much money it will take and how much profit you will need to make and how soon. Don’t get overwhelmed by the numbers - you need them as a practical guide- and that is also what the bank will want to see. Make sure you make space for a big advertising budget - it’s crucial in the beginning.

    Our agricultural business is a nursery and we teach workshops on gardening, soapmaking and herbalism. I also enlist others who have a book or small business to promote to teach whatever they specialize in. It’s hard to do it all by yourself. It took a lot of time and some money to get it started, but I think you will find it is worth the investment. You can see what we are doing at www.catskillnativenursery.com
    The only big downer is business insurance - check around for the best rates. As to personal health insurance, we don't have any at this time, but hope that will change this year. It has become a major reason people cannot open a small business or leave the office life.
     
  11. Does the house or property have a historical value you can use?
    Reenactment groups have a big following in my area.
     
  12. Nette

    Nette Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is the property so expensive that you couldn't purchase it and then "ease into" the plan you describe? What I mean is, maybe just start out hosting one group or family at a time, and see what goes over best. There's a term for this type of tourism but I can't think of what it is. I read an article in the Hoard's Dairyman about what families were doing to generate extra income on their farm. One family in Vermont or New Hampshire hosted family vacations for people that wanted to get out into the country and get hands-on experience on a real working farm. I can't remember how much extra income it generated, but it sounded pretty cool to me, if you're a people-person (which I'm not). I guess it's sort of like a bed and breakfast idea, with work involved.
     
  13. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    I hadn't thought of the reenactment idea. I'm in VA, one of the farms is in sight of the Rappahannock River. The county records go back to Civil War times on the place. Yet another venue I would be willing to research.
    Along the scout/homeschooler lines, while trying to go to sleep last night, I thought about making it a family week opportunity (bring the kids). There are lots of kid/family opportunities here in the summer (day camps at the museum, "family boatbuilding week" at the local Maritime Museum).
    I would certainly pull in local small businesses. I know people here who could do: cheesemaking, knitting classes (a lady with E.Zimmerman talents and teaching skills), massage, voice lessons, and I could pull in the county Master Gardeners group.
    Ms. Greene, I'll look at your website, thanks!
    thanks again to all wonderful ideas!
     
  14. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    If anyone in this "area" (drivable vicinity of Washington, DC), while internet searching my quest of this post, I ran across "Future Harvest, A Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture". They are having a family farm conference soon.
    Also, I posted my brainstorm on the Barbara Sher site, and got some great replies. Anyone with new direction you'd like to explore, it's a good website.
     
  15. jersey

    jersey Member

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    I always (half) joked about running a Weekend Escape for Burned Out Social Workers at my place ....no telephones, no fast food, no beepers, no alarm clocks ('cept the rooster)...we'd putter and fuss around the farm; play at the hobby of our choice...maybe a paper-making day or fabric painting demo....then maybe trip to the nearest farm auction....a big slumber party to re-live our youth or a night dancin' at the local honkey tonk....I always got a lot of positive responses from my co-workers for the idea...and some who kept asking WHEN I was going to do it.

    You might also consider a day in the country program for inner city kids...I know there are several successful ones...

    and here's a link to what woman artist did with her place: http://www.valleyridgeartstudio.com/index.htm (just in case the comb-overs need to see what another woman has done)

    and here's another National Geographic program that gives grants: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/11/1120_021120_GeoSurvey.html

    or how about this organization: Open Space Institute (protection of farmland) http://tinyurl.com/2r9ax (I shortened the address for you).

    Well, obviously I think you have a great idea brewing....Good Luck

    Catherine
     
  16. syringaweb

    syringaweb Well-Known Member

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    Catherine
    Thanks for the links and ideas. I'll explore them this afternoon when time allows.
    And yeah, a response to the comb-over crack.....
    Michelle
     
  17. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    Here in texas........... there are several HUGE ranches that have changed directions....... many of them have "photo hunts" now on the weekend... for whole families, and they have a lot exotic animals. There are some places you drive thru and you wonder if you are in texas or on the african velt...

    These "hunts" are reasonably prices and families go... and they come from all over the country, because it is inexpensive for them than to go to africa to see the same thing..

    Heck, I have pictures of gazelles, zebra, impala, giraffes, rhino, water buffalo, etc... that we have just seen out in the pastures.

    Now, I know you are not going for that kind of thing, but, it gives you an idea, people are always looking for escapes.

    I would love to set up a little place, will little log cabins, kind of a bed and breakfast type, but instead of in one big house, little theme cabins... and have gardening, farming, canning etc activities for those guest to participate in.

    ah, maybe someday...

    Lynn in texas
     
  18. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Just had another thought...... instead of trying to integrate the visitors experience with farm activities, why not simply use the farm as the vehicle to deliver a relaxing atmosphere. Cooking (or other) classes, a family style sit down breakfast/dinner. So more towards a B&B operation that compliments the farm.

    Mike
     
  19. mistymanor

    mistymanor Member

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    Actually, if you're willing to eventually put up some bathhouses, etc, your local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism - medieval & renaissance reenactment organization at www.sca.org) group would probably be more than happy to put it to use. One camp in Alabama gets use probably on a monthly basis of approximately $2000/weekend, which includes a hall with a kitchen, some sort of cinderblock cabins, and a bathhouse. That's about it! And yes, you could use it as a local camp, as well - try talking to your local FFA chapter, I know there are some camps that they run in various parts of the country. Also, if you're anywhere near a metro area, there are often people who may be interested in renting garden plots from you - you can either stipulate that they have to come out & take care of them a couple times a week, or that you can do it for an additional fee. Then there's the farm coop idea - sell shares in the farm for a take of the produce during a season. Maybe specialty farming/greenhousing? Anyways, what I'm basically trying to say is that there are a ton of options you can try with this - sometimes it's all about multiple small streams of income . . . . Hope that helps!
     
  20. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    The SCA chapter in San Antonio actually BOUGHT land out near lake medina and has gone about setting up its own villiage, etc... building just like they did in medieval times... (well as close as they can, with power tools sometimes... and lots of duct tape)

    But... Most SCA chapters are always looking for a place to meet on weekends for "reenactments" that are for members only.. and they are very well policed... even going as far as enforcing rules of have wet or dry sites (alcohol) etc...

    Also, there are so many Civil War Reenactment groups that might be interested... lots of ways to go here...

    Lynn in Texas