Rural farmstays becoming a Virginia vacationing mainstay

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Virginia is full of beautiful countrysides—and farms. For travelers looking to explore, disconnect and enjoy rural living, or learn more about farming, there are farm families who offer lodging or bed-and-breakfast accomodations.

Alta Jones, proprietor of AltaTerra Farm Bed and Breakfast in Loudoun County, said farmers in England and the United States have discovered a market for the opportunity to spend time on farms.

“Whether (guests are) staying on the farm using upscaled tents or bed-and-breakfast rooms, owners are creating activities on the farm for families escaping from the cities,” Jones explained.

Elmo’s Rest Vacation Rental at Peaks of Otter Winery

Bedford County, Virginia

Elmo’s Rest was Virginia’s first vacation rental house on a working farm when it opened in the mid-1980s, said owner Danny Johnson.

“Things have changed a lot during that time,” Johnson said with a chuckle. “We did not have air conditioning or television then, and people loved it. They wanted to get away from television and wade in the creeks, fish, walk in the woods or read and enjoy the quiet.”

Elmo’s Rest sits amid Peaks of Otter Winery and Johnson’s Orchard.

Elmo’s Rest was the home of Johnson’s parents, Elmo and Sarah “Freddy” Johnson, who lived there from 1919 until Elmo’s death in the ‘80s. The family was unsure of what to do with the property after that, and then Johnson’s wife, Nancy, read a book about farms turning homes into vacation rentals.

Elmo’s Rest opened in 1986 and is furnished to accommodate groups, families and couples. “There are 17 pillows so it sleeps 17. Just depends on how close people want to get to each other,” Johnson said with a  smile.
There also is a working kitchen and two full bathrooms. Guests can enjoy picking fresh fruit, fishing and the farm animals. Elmo’s Rest is surrounded by llamas, pigs, donkeys, chickens, turkeys, a peacock, rabbits, cattle and more. With a winery on the property, there is plenty of wine to purchase.

Roslyn Farm & Vineyard

Albemarle County, Virginia

Roslyn Farm & Vineyard owners Richard Fox II and Alexia Richards of Albemarle are busy restoring their farm and entertaining guests in their farm bed and breakfast, which also is their home.

Built in the 1930s, their house has five bedrooms, as well as a cottage that can be rented as a single unit. Since 2015 the couple has promoted their home through Airbnb and has hosted about 2,500 guests, some from as far away as the Czech Republic, China, Liberia, Iraq and Sudan.

“This has been wonderful because it helps us diversify farm revenue and brings excited customers directly to us, giving us the chance to highlight both our products and passion for what we do,” Richards explained.

Guests can cook meals in the kitchen and have access to farm-fresh chicken and duck eggs. During the spring and summer there are fresh microgreens, tomatoes and corn grown available.

Visitors also are able to interact with cows, chickens, ducks, goats and horses on the farm. Richards also teaches horseback riding and offers both riding lessons and a summer riding program. 

She said many of the people coming to stay have never experienced a farm, ridden a horse or seen livestock in person. “Many come from big cities and different paces of life. Our guests get so excited about the animals. They walk around the farm, pet the animals or help us with the chickens and goats. It’s amazing to see their reactions.”

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