5 Best Ideas to Build a Farm Stay for Profit
Are you looking for a great way to diversify and increase your farm income? A farm stay is a great way to make the most of your small farm.
In this blog post, we’ll explore all the amazing benefits of creating a Farm Stay business from start-up costs through to attracting guests and making sure everyone has an unforgettable stay
Table of Contents
1. Farm Stays can Equal Profitability
Have you considered turning your small farm property into a place where people can visit, stay, be part of the rural lifestyle experience, and maybe even learn something? If this sparks some interest in you – well then building a Farm Stay on your property could be one of the most worthwhile investments that you make!
Farm Stays offer an enjoyable new guest experience to visitors, and present a fantastic opportunity for small farmers to open up their land to guests who may never have had the chance to visit a rural setting. Create your business plan and then your marketing plan, and move forward.
2. Create an Inviting Atmosphere
The best way to make your farm stand out from other destinations is to create an atmosphere of tranquility and relaxation. Make sure that your guests feel welcome by providing comfortable accommodations and plenty of things to do on the farm.
How will your place look as a guest pulls into your lane? Remember that your guests will have a first impression that can either be good or bad. Make it something special, something welcoming. You can build some stone pillars on each side of the drive. Beautify your place, even if you are not inviting guests in. Everyone feels better if their home is in the best shape it can be. Even a wooden fence and gate would look nice. You can have a stone sign at the beginning of the lane, announcing where they are. Spruce it up!
Clear up any weedy or unsightly areas. Make things look clean and tidy. This first impression sets the stage for the rest of their visit. When you have pride in your small farm, your guests will feel that you will take good care of them, too.
Accommodations for your guests could be a charming, converted outbuilding with a wood-burning stove, a yurt, luxury tents, or even a teepee. Let them go glamping, with all the stops out. Beds and bedding should be very comfortable and inviting. Dark-out blinds are helpful in northern climes when the sun comes up at 5 am.
From the very beginning, you have to decide if you are going to be open only in the summer or will you be open year-round. There are benefits and disadvantages to each. You might think about just opening for the summer your first year and work out all of the kinks before you decide to go all year.
If you live in a ski area, all year might really work well for you, but remember you have to heat the accommodations, and the weather may create some travel issues for you and your guests. Think it out, for all of this is surmountable. Hard-sided buildings or heated yurts can work in the winter, but guests would really have to be tough to survive in a heated tent or teepee surrounded by snow.
3. Provide On-site Amenities
What are your guests going to do while visiting? When you think of amenities, consider what you have available on your farm.
Perhaps you have a fishing pond or a forest with hiking trails. Turn these into assets that your guests would love. Supply the fishing tackle and have a few bikes that guests can borrow. You might be located close to mountain biking trails, so be sure to include that in your marketing.
Maybe you have a good place for people to go horseback riding. Keep gentle horses and provide your guests with a “dude wrangler” so they don’t get into trouble.
Llama hiking/packing is also a great sport, so if you have packing llamas, you can plan a simple trip with your guests.
Have an outdoor fire pit for after-dinner entertainment. To keep a rustic atmosphere, you can use logs or big rocks for people to sit upon. More upscale, have some comfortable chairs and swings around the pit.
If you have farm animals, invite guests to get close and interact with them. They can help you with chores, gather eggs, feed the animals, learn that their food doesn’t come from a grocery store, or just pet the baby animals.
Another idea is to consider offering workshops such as cooking classes or art classes based on what’s available on the farm. This could include jam/jelly making, dutch oven cooking, bread making, or something else that is unique to your homeplace and your interests.
If you have a small organic farm, have a u-pick opportunity for your guests to gather fruits and vegetables. A family particularly loves doing this type of thing for children really enjoy the picking.
For those guests interested in meditation or yoga, offer indoor or outdoor sessions. Make sure the setting is appropriate for the lesson you are planning, with plants, running water, and maybe soft music. Help people to celebrate the fresh air of the farm stay experience.
You can offer nature talks, show them daily life on a working farm, or just let them rest, relax, and wander around on their own. Set the rules as to what is safe, then just let them decide which activities they wish to partake in.
Your small farm might be ideal to offer accommodations to groups, weddings, events, or speakers who bring their own groups. Spend time developing a good contract so that you know what they are responsible for and what you will be expected to do–as well as what they will pay for your services and accommodations. Have a kill fee in your contract in case they cancel.
Guests will appreciate it if you provide all the necessary amenities for your guests so they don’t have to worry about bringing anything with them. Supply wonderful bedding and linens to make them feel pampered. Have bathroom amenities such as shampoos and creams available.
You can provide all meals, featuring the fresh food that your farm produces, and serve this family style. If you don’t want to be doing the cooking for guests, you can make sure they have a small kitchen with a microwave to create their own meals. Daily prices should reflect how many meals you are serving them.
You should also offer basic services such as laundry and daily housekeeping so that your guests can fully relax during their stay.
4. Market Your Farm Stay
Once you’ve set up everything for your farm stay, it’s time to market it! Whether it’s through your own website, print advertising, online postings, or word of mouth, getting the word out about your unique destination will help attract more customers and make sure that they keep coming back year after year.
There is an organization that promotes farm stays that you might consider: FarmStaysUSA. This is not an affiliate link and I gain no benefit from recommending them, but I found it interesting to look up farm stays throughout the USA on this site. You might get some ideas as to what you can charge according to what you offer by perusing their members. You can join, for a price.
Also consider joining forces with other local businesses, such as restaurants or tourism sites, in order to cross-promote each other’s services and create more opportunities for customers who are interested in visiting multiple sites in one trip.
5. Other Resources for Farm Stays
Many states offer advice on how to get started creating this unique opportunity for people, especially a family, to visit a farm. Here are two that you might want to read before you get started.
The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has written FarmStay, a 52-page pdf.
The University of Vermont wrote How to Develop a Farm Stay, a 12-page pdf.
The University of California has created an Agricultural Farm Stay Fact Sheet that you might find interesting.
All of these documents have good information which may save you from having to reinvent the wheel.
Regulations, Licensing, and Insurance
As with any business start up, these requirements will vary from state to state and you may also have some federal regulations to meet also. The serving of food, the wastewater system, the potable water supply, lodging establishment licensing, land use permits, and so on are all areas you will need to consult, then meet the government requirements.
You will also need insurance to cover this farm business.
Even though it seems onerous to have to follow through on all of these issues, the governments have set them up to protect you as well as your guests. Take a little time, gather patience, and follow through with all of the requirements, and you can build a business that could possibly sustain your small farm
Turning your small farm into a farm stay is a great way to maximize its potential while giving visitors a memorable experience they won’t soon forget. Look for new ideas to enhance your visitors’ stay. By creating an inviting atmosphere, providing amenities like linens and toiletries, and marketing yourself well, you can ensure that you have plenty of visitors ready to take advantage of all that your small farm has to offer.
With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have success turning your small farm into a lively destination full of happy guests!