Feather Down Farm Days, a business member of New England Farmers Union, offers luxury cabin-style accommodations to farm visitors in Europe and the Midwestern U.S. and is now expanding operations into New England.
Feather Down farms generate “a substantial income to compliment their core farming activities through low-impact, sustainable, on-farm lodging,” according to Ethan Ash of Feather Down. The company is seeking partnerships with working farms within a three-hour drive of major metropolitan areas, which describes much of New England.
In addition to increasing the agricultural literacy of visitors to the farms, Feather Down Farm Days offers farmers a way to diversify their operations and income. Over 60 farms in Europe are participating in Feather Down Farm Days, and all report full occupancy from April through October, according to Ash. In Illinois, Kinnikinnick Farm has been operating for five years with Feather Down and sells out its five tents during the entire season. Feather Down’s expansion to New England points to a growing demand from customers looking for authentic agritourism opportunities, which is a win for the sustainability of family agriculture as a whole.
As part of the business model, Feather Down supplies their partner farms with tents, equipment, and furnishings, which are used seasonally from May to October each year. A fee is paid to the farmer per occupied tent per night and bookings are managed through Feather Down’s website. Feather Down also handles regional marketing and PR to create demand and fill the tents with guests. Farmers need to meet some qualifications for infrastructure, including a potable water source, and a level space for the tents. The farm would also provide a small scale “farm store” with provisions, such as farm produce, food, and firewood. Additional income can be earned through offering community meals, retail sales, bike rentals, and the sale of recreational or educational activities (horseback riding, cheese-making classes, fishing, etc.).
Ideal partner farmers have a genuine desire to share their knowledge of farming and the their land with Feather Down guests and are willing to offer a warm, hospitable welcome. Feather Down says farms with livestock are preferred, and farms must have sufficient field or meadow space for five to 10 tents with views of the countryside.
“We joined the Farmers Union because we believe the mission of Feather Down goes hand-in-hand with the advocacy and ideals of NEFU,” Ash said. “By allowing guests to book a stay on a Feather Down Farm, we are exposing parents and children from metropolitan areas to the source of their food and the need for protecting our agricultural structure. As those guests return home, they will have a deeper understanding about the values of agriculture and sustainability based on their experiences on the farm. We are excited to join the Farmers Union and play our part in supporting farmers, and the agriculture industry as a whole.”
If you are interested in becoming a Feather Down Farm, please send a brief description of your farm and interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Ethan with questions at 802-392-3276