A Farmstay Getaway
The sun begins to rise over rolling Wisconsin hills, peaking through dense clouds and illuminating dew on crops firmly rooted in expansive fields. Your eyes take in the view as the surrounding silence seeps into your soul. The smell of baking scones and brewing coffee foreshadow the homemade breakfast soon to follow your morning shower. Welcome to your haycation, a personal farmstay experience not too far from home.
If you are looking for a unique mini-break, look no further than the sixteen independently owned farms across the state now opening their homes (and barns) to visitors and overnight guests. As farm-to-table initiatives continue to spring up in communities nationwide, vacationing on a farm has become an option for those interested in exposing themselves and their children to an insider’s view—and at times, a hands-on experience—of local food production.
Providing a sustainable model of organic food, conservation and ethical practices are key principles that led John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist to start Inn Serendipity Farm seventeen years ago. Located in Green County on the outskirts of Browntown, their property is a turn-of-the-century farmhouse nestled in five and a half acres of serene country fields.
The couple’s assorted renovations over the years have heavily concentrated on upgrading to energy saving appliances and vehicles and installing energy producing equipment such as solar panels, wood burning stoves and a 10kW wind turbine. According to Ivanko, one of their continual goals is to become one-hundred percent self-sufficient as a farm and business—a main draw for guests, especially those interested in learning how to implement similar techniques at home.
Ivanko and Kivirist also have a passion for helping visitors make the connection between eating fresh, organic food and preparing meals with ingredients often picked within the hour. Ivanko estimates that during their operating season, seventy percent of the food served is grown and/or produced on-site and about a third of their guests leave with produce at the end of their stays.
Amenities at Inn Serendipity include two bedrooms with private baths in the main farmhouse, a large-scale outdoor chess set, nightly bonfires with s’mores and an outdoor cantina with a wood-burning oven (ideal for pizza making) just behind the dairy barn. And although some choose to take advantage of the numerous biking trails to explore the region, the majority of lodgers actually prefer to relax on the farm or “talk kitchen” with Kivirist about her distinctive culinary creations like coco vegan pancakes, egg roll omelets and rhubarb fizz.
Local agriculture aficionados interested in learning the basics of cultivating their own direct food sources should also take a drive up to Trillium Farm in LaFarge. Bordered by the Kickapoo River Valley, its tranquil eighty-five acres of farm and forest are a well-kept secret of rural luxury.
Overnight accommodations range from a one-bedroom cottage to a three-bedroom house, each with full kitchens, porch swings, patios and hammocks. While an assortment of warm, daily-made breads with a sampling of last harvest’s preserves arrive on your doorstep each morning, guests are left to scrounge up the rest of the day’s fixins for themselves—by forging in the gardens, retrieving eggs from the chicken coop or fishing.
Owner Noah Swanson says creating a space for others to “step out of the loop” and “showing guests how easy it is to grow and eat your own food” were key motivating factors for his forward-thinking parents who began offering stays at Trillium twenty-nine years ago.
Being a Certified Family Forest site, the dense woods skirting the periphery of the farm offer ample opportunity for hiking deep into the valley and independent exploration of an old logging road that dates back to the 1800s. Camping, canoeing and swimming along the Kickapoo River are other favorite activities for guests.
Another major perk for eco-conscious families is the plethora of animals found on-site, such as llamas, donkeys, sheep, horses, goats, rabbits and a pot-bellied pig, all of which families are welcome to feed and interact with at their leisure. Swanson says parents especially appreciate the fact the property is TV-, internet- and (more-often-than not) cell-phone-reception-free, allowing a family’s getaway to be a fully unplugged event.
Overall, a haycation can be a relaxing and educational experience. Inn Serendipity and Trillium Farm are two inspiring farms providing a unique opportunity for guests to reconnect with nature, primary food sources—and perhaps themselves and those they love.
Rachel Werner is a fitness instructor, freelance writer and guest blogger for Dr. Sear’s Wellness Institute.