Home Precision Agriculture Harvest Hosts Connects Family Farms With RV Travelers

Harvest Hosts Connects Family Farms With RV Travelers

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Final spring, because the pandemic shuttered small companies throughout the nation, Dave Putnam started to fret about the way forward for his Washington lavender farm. Agritourism makes up a lot of the enterprise at Trinity Gardens, the place Putnam and his household develop and promote apples, cherries and different produce along with lavender merchandise. And with out the weddings they often hosted or the same old stream of vehicles passing by on their method to a close-by amphitheater, guests to the farm grew much less frequent.

Then Putnam’s good friend advised him about an organization referred to as Harvest Hosts, a membership-based membership that gives distinctive experiences for RV vacationers. For an annual payment of $79 (set to go as much as $99 quickly), members have entry to tenting out at over 2,000 areas within the U.S., lots of that are farms and wineries.

Harvest Hosts was initially based in 2009 by an Arizona couple, Don and Kim Greene. In 2018, the Greenes bought the corporate to Joel Holland, who had just lately completed a two-year RV journey along with his spouse. When Holland purchased the corporate, Harvest Hosts had round 600 areas and 6,000 members. At the moment, it boasts 150,000 members, a quantity that’s anticipated to develop to 200,000 by the tip of this yr.

As individuals have grown extra stressed at house, with out the power to simply hop on a flight to a different nation, there’s been a rising curiosity in home journey. Because of this, RV gross sales have boomed. The Leisure Car Business Affiliation (RVIA) has seen report gross sales because the onset of the pandemic, with RV shipments in February 23 % greater than the identical month final yr. RVIA expects RV gross sales to be headed to their highest ranges ever in 2021. 

All of these new RVers—who vary in age from younger {couples} with shiny Airstream trailers to retirees driving decked-out rides—want locations to remain on their cross-country journeys. Positive, there are many campsites and truck stops for RVs to park, however why not keep in a single day at a extra scenic winery, orchard or brewery? Holland needs to assist match the vacationers with small companies and household farms who want the assist. 

Photograph courtesy of Harvest Hosts.

It doesn’t price something for a farm to develop into a Harvest Hosts location. So long as there’s house on the farm for an RV to park for an evening—no hook-ups required—it’s certified. Whereas Harvest Hosts doesn’t pay areas to welcome RVers, the corporate does encourage the visitors to assist their hosts by making purchases in the course of the go to. In accordance with Holland, farms make a mean of $13,000 in annual income from Harvest Hosts visitors. “That may not seem like a ton, but for a lot of mom-and-pop small businesses, it really is helpful,” he says. “We’ve heard touching tributes from hosts who thought they were otherwise going to lose the farm and have to shut down.”

In Pennsylvania, Pam Ellenberger has welcomed fewer than a dozen RVs to Bent Limb Farm, the place she raises alpacas, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits and poultry. She signed as much as be a bunch lower than six months in the past, however her expertise with visitors has been overwhelmingly constructive. “We’ve had really nice people who respected the property and the animals,” she says. “And everybody has bought something. I’ve seen everything from $10 to $500 [in purchases].”

Since turning into a bunch final June, Putnam has welcomed greater than 200 RVs to Trinity Gardens. “It’s really interesting to meet the people that are traveling,” says Putnam. “The majority of people coming through have just had it with the pandemic and decided to hit the road in [an] RV. We even get people who are working remotely as they travel.”

Each farmers plan to proceed as hosts, even after the pandemic subsides. “It gives us another chance to talk about why growing your own food is important,” says Ellenberger.



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