Take Advantage of Agritourism
Agritourism is becoming increasingly popular as a way of not only exploring new places but as an opportunity to learn about farming techniques and the process of food production. The term “agritourism” refers to the practice of staying on a farm, vineyard or ranch and often includes assisting in the host’s daily activities. Agritourism is a great opportunity for those currently engaged in an online culinary arts program as it gives students the opportunity to explore different facets of the food industry.
Italian from the source
The Tuscan region of Italy was one of the first regions in the world to popularize agritourism. The various “agritorismi” that dot the countryside are traditional farms and vineyards that have converted a portion of their space into an inn. Staying at an agritorismo gives travelers the opportunity to have an intimate and individual experience with the land, as opposed to a group-led tour which can often result in an impersonal experience. Those with an interest in Italian cuisine are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities, as they usually involve direct experience making food with the proprietors and their families using traditional techniques and ingredients.
For those looking for a more local experience, many small farms in the United States have expanded into agritourism services in order to stay afloat financially. California is one of the most popular destinations given the large number of family-owned farms in the state. Websites such as Farm Stay USA provide a listing of farms that offer lodging. Understanding the day-to-day workings of an American farm is invaluable for the aspiring chef as more and more diners are turning to farm-to-table style restaurants. Running a restaurant that sources food locally from nearby farms will require familiarity with how food is produced. Living on a farm, if only for a few days, will greatly expand your knowledge of the food industry.
Staying for free
While agritorismi and farm stays are certainly cheaper and more educational than staying at a hotel, they will still cost money. An alternative option is to take advantage of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. These organic farms offer room and board in exchange for your work on their farm. This is the ultimate immersion experience for those with an interest in organic farming practices. The work can sometimes be tough and a lot is expected of you, but the experience has the potential to be incredibly rewarding. WWOOF farms are located all over the world.