City slickers go on farm vacations to get respite from modern life

Overstimulated urban dwellers are taking farm vacations to get back in touch with country life — a phenomenon that may help preserve America’s rural landscape. “Agri-tourism” generates considerable, much-needed revenue for Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont; it’s one of just a few thousand surviving farms in a state that once had tens of thousands. Guests get room, board, and the chance to help out with chores. Recent visitors included a New York City-area couple delighted to see how the farm experience transformed their squeamish, city-bred daughters into enthusiastic cow-poop-shoveling farmhands. About 20 Vermont farms now offer overnight stays, and more than 50 have tourist attractions like pick-your-own-fruit orchards. Despite fears that agri-tourism might turn small farms into theme parks, it could be key to saving them. Says Liberty Hill co-owner Beth Kennett, “There’s no way we could have stayed and kept the farm going without the extra income.”