From Mother Nature Network's Josh Lew:
Agritourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the eco-tourism industry. There is nothing new about this form of travel, which involves staying on a farm or other agriculture-oriented property and perhaps even sampling the day-to-day lifestyle of the people who tend the crops or livestock there. Tourists have been staying at Italian vineyards and Rocky Mountain ranches for decades. The idea of relaxing in a beautiful setting (like the Tuscan farmhouse shown here) or sampling the adventurous Old West lifestyle is certainly still part of the attraction of agritourism. On some farms that welcome tourists, however, the goal is less about providing a unique vacation and more about fostering a deeper understanding of the farming process through education and hands-on experience.
Want to see what the agritourism buzz is all about? Try one of these amazing destinations on your next vacation.
List and captions courtesy of the Mother Nature Network
Lush, rugged Taiwan has numerous ?<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2011/11/18/country-living-with-frills-now-drawing-tourists/">leisure farms</a>? that offer tours of farm fields and facilities and, of course, plenty of chances to sample the crops. A couple of things make Taiwan an ideal spot for an in-depth agritourism vacation. Many smaller farms offer <a href="http://www.go2taiwan.net/monthly_selection.php?sqno=22">home-stay </a>accommodations, as opposed to hotel-like rooms. In addition, the food served and sold is grown locally, so green-minded travelers can easily support sustainable agriculture and lower their carbon footprint while traveling. Tea-lovers can embark on a specialized agricultural tour by focusing on the island's <a href="http://www.hualien-taiwanhotels.com/attractions/Wuhe_Tourist_Tea_Plantation.htm">tea plantations</a>, where some of the world's most prized leaves are cultivated.
Tuscany was one of the first regions to become a popular farm-tourism destination, thanks to its atmospheric agriturismos. These farmhouses, which were converted into inns, gained notoriety because they offered an authentic and quaint Italian countryside experience to people who would otherwise have to see this region as part of a tour group. A few of the estates in Tuscany offer a more educational focus, but, for the most part, the attraction of staying in a farmhouse in this region has to do with the opportunity to simply hang around the property, relax and soak in the unparalleled atmosphere. Of course, part of agritourism is tasting local fare, and Tuscany (Italy as a whole, actually) is the perfect place for this because such a premium is placed on fresh, local food. Whether you want a wine-soaked stay in the Chianti area or a farmhouse with a restaurant that makes magic with local tomatoes, herbs and cheeses, Tuscany will prove to be one of Europe best agritourism destinations.
On the popular Spanish island of Mallorca, farmhouse inns focus more on providing isolation and quietness than offering hands-on farming experiences. With millions of visitors descending on the beaches of Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands each summer, a little bit of isolation is a good thing for solitude-seeking travelers. Mainly located in the hills of inland Mallorca, these inns range from rustic century-old farmhouses to luxury bed-and-breakfasts with spas and swimming pools. Some of Mallorca's <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/may/11/balearicislands.spain">best agriturismos</a> sit in the middle of orange or fig groves and offer fresh, local food to guests, often serving dishes made from ingredients grown on-site.
Brazil is a vast country with plenty of natural resources and a vibrant, diverse agricultural industry. From tropical flowers and fruit to beef cattle and sugarcane, Brazil has retained its farm-based economy despite growing in other sectors by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Brazil might be a little remote for U.S.-based travelers, but flights from hubs like Miami and Houston put it within reach. People who are seriously interested in agricultural practices will want to put this vast nation on their to-visit list because of its <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/16886442">innovative and sustainable farming practices</a>, which other countries are scrambling to learn and imitate.
People who don't want to dig out their passport but still want their farm adventure to have an exotic edge can head to the island of Hawaii. The 50th state boasts a well-developed farm tourism industry that can accommodate people with a diverse array of interests. The <a href="http://hiagtourism.org/">Hawaii Agritourism Association</a> offers resources for tourists who want to have a tropical farm experience or simply want to learn about and taste the state's best farm products. Agritourism options range from visiting <a href="http://www.gohawaii.com/big-island/guidebook/topics/coffee-plantations">coffee plantations</a> in the Big Island's Kona region to exploring the <a href="http://www.gohawaii.com/maui/plan-a-trip/activities/plantations-farms-and-gardens">plantations on Maui</a> to staying on organic farms on the easily reachable island of Oahu. There are enough farm tour options that people can enjoy a standard Hawaii beach or adventure vacation and include some agritourism activities on their itinerary without having to focus completely on farms.
Grenada is growing as a <a href="http://www.grenadagrenadines.com/">tourist destination</a>, but it is also a haven for agriculture. From cocoa plantations to spice farms, this small island nation boasts a wealth of agritourism attractions. Nutmeg, mace, cloves, cinnamon and turmeric are grown in higher quantities here than in almost anywhere else in the world (and certainly more than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere). One of the Caribbean's best agritourism resorts, the <a href="http://www.belmontestate.net/">Belmont Estates</a>, is located on Grenada. This three-century-old estate has a thriving nutmeg and cocoa business. Belmont features an organic farm and a restaurant that serves traditional Grenadian food made with ingredients grown on-site. Any tourist who appreciates flavor and spice and who wants to see exotic edibles at their source should definitely consider Grenada a top choice for a Caribbean-based farm experience.
California is one of the best places in the U.S. to enjoy a farm-stay, thanks to the diversity of crops and farms. Many smaller family farms in this West Coast state rely on agritourism to supplement their income. Plenty of people know about staying in the wineries and vineyards of the Central Coast and Sonoma areas, but <a href="http://www.calagtour.org/">small family farms</a> and large ranches also offer a more hands-on approach to agritourism. Many of these places teach small scale farming techniques and even offer strategies for organic growing. The University of California system, one of the largest state-run higher education systems in the U.S., has a <a href="http://www.sfp.ucdavis.edu/agritourism/">small-farm program</a> that helps growers create education-oriented agritourism businesses.
With diverse conditions on different islands, the Philippines is an ideal place for visiting multiple agritourism sites or focusing on a niche product. Tourists can visit a huge <a href="http://www.markmaranga.com/camp-phillips-del-monte-pineapple-plantation-in-bukidnon/">pineapple plantation</a> for a taste of large scale agriculture, or they could focus on smaller operations, such as <a href="http://www.markmaranga.com/orchid-farm-in-davao/">orchid farms</a>, bee farms, and even small plantations that specialize in growing exotic tropical produce such as dragon fruit or papaya. The government of this beautiful Southeast Asian island nation is looking to <a href="http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/354543/developing-agritourism">actively bolster</a> what is already a successful niche for tour companies and farmers. It is also known for its accessibility because English is a widely spoken (almost universally spoken in many places) second language.
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From Mother Nature Network's Josh Lew: Agritourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the eco-tourism industry. There is nothing new about this form of travel, which involves staying on a far...
From Mother Nature Network's Josh Lew: Agritourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the eco-tourism industry. There is nothing new about this form of travel, which involves staying on a far...Read more from Huffington Post bloggers:
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