Waking up with the sunrise, selflessly inhaling the smell of fresh manure, rounding up the beds around the clock – the citizens considered this lot unenviable many centuries ago and secured it with the feeling of relief for the villagers. Today, such a pampered, tired, and easily excitable resident of a megacity seems to be completely incapable of such feats.
An unpleasant smell harshly hits nostrils that are used to perfume, a piercing rooster cry acts on your nerves, physical work unceremoniously and painfully makes you recall the presence of muscles in your body. However, as global practice shows, white-collar workers yearned for chernozem. And how: in the village they were drawn with such force that in some countries, wealthy bourgeois in their right mind and sober memory refuse from the beach program and without regret spend their precious holidays on rural games.
The main goal is a complete fusion with nature and soul, and body, and stomach. Modern farmers are ready to appease the urban public in all respects by combining this kind of recreation with the broad term “agritourism”.
Several complementary trends, including ecological, gastronomic and even labor tourism, fit into the framework of the agrarian direction. The cementing institute for all these varieties of leisure is the farm. The journey begins with her, here the citizen is dipped into the peasant life and relishes all his charm.
The culinary traditions that each self-respecting province cultivates in Europe are becoming the most powerful magnet of rural hinterland. After all, all experienced admirers of agro-tourism are experienced gourmets, who are eager not only to have an intensive rest, but also to taste regional cuisine’s hits every day, which are famous in all four parts of the world.
The bonus is that from a passive eater at any time you can turn into an inquisitive schoolboy and see (and sometimes take a personal part in the process), from which and how they make the legendary Conti novel or real mozzarella, because the vineyards and cheese factories are paired kilometers or meters from the room.
Another category of citizens goes to the farm for close contact with animals and the environment. It is precisely in it that families with small children often fall.
To take the maximum from summer, parents often choose rural lands on the Mediterranean coast. Then, in the morning, the baby can go to the beach, go to a truffle hunt with a specially trained terrier for lunch, and feed a calf from a bottle in the evening or watch a chicken appear from the egg into the light.
Yes, and adults are not averse to taste such joys. Not without reason among the Western adherents of agro-tourism there are masses of pensioners, childless couples and individual travelers.
In addition to agricultural fun, depending on the season and the selected region, the farm owners or tour organizers always offer to dilute the holiday life with day trips to local attractions. There is no need to talk about standard options like kayaking, rafting, many kilometers of cycling and hiking routes: European agritourism is combined with them easily and instantly.
Today, pastoral recreation is most strongly developed in Italy, Spain and France, and the highest concentration of farms is noted in Tuscany, Andalusia and Bordeaux. But in other developed countries, including Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the USA, agritourism flourishes everywhere.
You can merge with nature for a day, a weekend or the whole summer, and you can even stop in a fishing hut, even in an alpine chalet, even in a knight’s castle or in an old villa. And if you search well, hotels of rural type will be found even under the shadow of national parks, where the air is especially clean and crystalline.
Russia, paradoxically, was also in trend, despite the craze for summer houses in the Soviet and post-perestroika era. Increasingly, in the speeches of avid citizens, there is a saying: “We all come from the village,” while many of them have a nostalgic, moist glow in their eyes. But if the majority prefers to dream of a rural paradise in an endless traffic jam or in a subway car full of them, I decided to go from words to actions and by all means taste the praised charms of agritourism.
And not somewhere in Europe, but certainly in their own homeland.
After long wanderings on the Runet, it turned out that I had little choice. Farm holiday in our country is in the embryonic phase, and its civilized variety is even more so. Most often, weekend trips, for example, to a moose or ostrich farm, are caught, but there are few days for a deep dive into the peasant life.
Of course, it was possible without unnecessary ceremonies to go into a remote backwater, begging to visit the first oncoming grandmother, live in her collapsed hut and gratify the womb with rosy pie for a week. Isn’t it ecotourism with free elements of uncovered national life?
But the lack of plumbing and a wooden bathroom in the courtyard frightened me with their lack of principle, so I did not consider this option from the very beginning. In search of European comfort had to go as much as 120 km from Moscow.
The agrotourist boom swept Europe in the 80s of the last century, when the environmental protection movement, which originated twenty years earlier, gained full force. However, the tradition to leave the city in the summer season and experience the heat in a village in the Old World existed long ago, and it was invented by aristocrats.
The cream of society has always loved to invite guests to their country villas, just recently this custom attracted merchants, and now the agricultural vacation has become available to everyone.
“Unfortunately, the Konovalovo farm is still one of a kind,” the landlord said sadly and at the same time cheerfully, and, barely having spoken the true truth, the squat and mobile ex-businessman from Togliatti politely apologized and hid in an unknown direction. During the excursion, Alexander once again went away in the midst of a conversation: either chopping wood for a Russian stove, then giving battle to the Colorado potato beetle on a small potato field, then throwing hay to cows.
One would have thought that any affairs on a farm without him would immediately freeze, although all adult members of the clan would look after the garden and animals. By the way, concern for the younger generation has become a collective and key incentive for creating an eco-farm. “When my wife and I had grandchildren, we thought hard about what we were going to feed them,” says Alexander. “We used to buy products exclusively on the market, but it was impossible to verify the quality of the goods.”
Realizing that in this matter you can only trust yourself, the head of the family rolled up his sleeves and picked up a shovel. And in order for the farm to bring more income, he opened an eco-hotel on its territory and began to grow crops and cattle for sale.
Alexander got accustomed to the role of a peasant in just 2 years and now he enthusiastically embodies the principles of ecological farming on his four hectares. In accordance with European standards, he grows all products without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified components, hormones and antibiotics.
Despite the fact that in our country there are no official technical regulations for environmentally friendly products, and therefore marks like “bio”, “organic” and even “natural” are nothing more than an advertising move, I believed Alexander. True, not immediately, but after he brought to my nose the horseshoe of a local Krakow sausage.
Its authentic and salivary meaty odor, completely weathered from modern hypermolls, has awakened memories of distant times when the doctor’s, liverworm and sausages were twisted not from paper and soybeans. Another argument that Alexander didn’t fail to press: his portrait and mobile number are on each package.
He did not go to such a move out of vanity, but only for the sake of transparency of production. Perhaps that is why farm products are in great demand not only from regular customers. “Everything that we grow with our own hands, guests can try in our restaurant, only for a fee,” he proudly declares. “And the fact that we ourselves do not produce the same cheese, for example, we buy from proven small farms.”
And this is one of the main advantages of agro-tourism, for which real experts come here.
On the farm there is entertainment for all genders and ages, so families with children come to Alexander most often. Many mothers, in order to occupy a child, rely on occupational therapy and send their children to dig beds.
The watering can here will be given on demand, although children are being released to the cultivated areas only under the supervision of adults. If desired, you can even ride on a mini-tractor in tandem with an employee of the farm.
However, the favorite activity of the kids is to communicate with goats, which by their nature are greedy for affection. I managed to make sure of this on my own experience as soon as I entered the pen.
A white herd, headed by the imposing goat Makar, idly reclined on heaps of hay and manure. My appearance caused a general revival, and within a minute, the belt of the jacket and the bow on the moccasins were taken hostage by the herbivorous jaws. Makar, as a leader, also demanded attention, but he did it so sincerely that I realized how easy it was to fall in love with a goat.
Rabbits cause no less interest in babies: children consider otrepat animals behind their ears as a sacred duty. For the perimeter of the barnyard bait too short.
For example, in the kitchen, those who want to learn to cook butter in a wooden churn and bake buns.
Parents, too, will not be bored. Daddy will appease fishing on a tiny pond five steps away from the hotel (biocarp, biolin and bioward are pecking at the bait).
During the season, Alexander undertakes to organize a hunt on the border of Smolensk and Tver regions, which is located 30 km from the farm. Mom will dispel a workshop on cooking farm dishes in a stove, cauldron or tandoor.
From family practices, in the summer, bike and quad bike rides are highly rated, and in winter, cross-country skiing and snowmobile riding. So tourist comfort, albeit with great difficulty, can be found in the open spaces of Russia.
It is most convenient to select a farm to your taste via the Internet, although tourist managers and foreign friends and colleagues can also give good advice. Most of the sites are provided not only with photo reports, but also with detailed maps, so finding a province with access to the sea is not difficult.
If the purpose of the trip is acquaintance with seasonal delicacies, it is worth knowing in advance what time of year the harvest begins. In order not to be late for a local holiday, it is better to once again specify the date of the meeting.