Farm life for city kids

One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to help them to see life as one great adventure after the next – a lesson our farms and ranches of the world make as clear as the countryside sky.

Farm life for city kids

Family vacations are about spending quality time together, whether united around the breakfast table or horseback riding through the wilderness of The Home Ranch in Colorado, for example.

One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is to help them to see life as one great adventure after the next – a lesson our farms and ranches of the world make as clear as the countryside sky.

THERE ARE CORNERS OF THE WORLD, where the simple wonders of life bloom invitingly, corners that welcome outsiders in, that embrace young ones and bid them to reconnect with the first teachers – nature and its animals.

In a world where many children think potato chips come from factories, a world where that is increasingly the case, there is a movement to take kids back to the land. An urgent need to teach them simple life facts, such as where our food comes from, and a desire to expose them to a way of living in harmony with Earth. These spaces are farms. Ranches. And many families are choosing them for their vacation destinations, not only because of their inherent virtue, but also for the happy hearts they leave their little ones with.

“There is a movement to take kids back to the land.”

THE HOME RANCH, COLORADO At The Home Ranch, in the alpine valley of the Elk River, chef Clyde Nelson welcomes guests of all ages to experience how a high-country organic farm works, to witness and learn about the local livestock and vegetables that are served in meals. To learn, in essence, about the creation of life and how they can play a part.
Along with an immersion in farm life, the ranch runs a kids and teens activity programme they call “The Dude Ranch Visit”. It is “the ideal classroom to demonstrate the Farm-to-Table movement for the whole community,” Clyde says.

Kids can experience the art of ranching first-hand, giving them a feel for a whole new way of life. One without city lights blocking out the milky way at night, where horseback riding and pond fishing replace television and iPads, and kids live out their own cowboy adventure with barn dances, campfire cook-outs and s'mores, rodeos, and a junior wranglers programme.

THE RANCH AT ROCK CREEK IN MONTANA Here in Big Sky Country, in the Rocky Mountains of Philipsburg, little ones can explore the wildness in themselves through the wilderness of the ranch as part of the Little Grizzlies Kids Club.

Young explorers learn the ins and outs of a working horse farm, in an exciting and safe way, with trained staff at the reins to impart their knowledge about ranch life and the surrounding natural environment. Each day brings a new theme. One day, kids will be spending time with the farm animals in the barn; the next, they’ll be on the banks of Rock Creek, seeking out trout.

“Young explorers learn the ins and outs of a working horse farm.”  

BLACKBERRY FARM, TENNESSEE This farm escape in the Great Smoky Mountains gives not only children but the entire family a lesson in life down on the farm – including gardening, cooking, beekeeping, and taking care of animals.

On a special Farm Animal Day, as part of Camp Blackberry, which runs on holidays and from Memorial Day through to Labor Day, little ones learn about why each animal is important to the prosperity of a working farm.

After meeting the woolly and feathered residents – the sheep, chickens, ducks, quail and turkeys – kids are given their own farmhand jobs, such as grooming and feeding the animals and collecting eggs for the kitchen.

On a visit to the mobile chicken coops – used to fertilize and maintain the grass that sustains the animals – your little one will learn how to raise their own chickens.

Because “good gardeners cook and good cooks garden,” in the words of the farm’s Field School manager, Jeff Ross, young ones are invited to experience the entire farm-to-fork process, guided by the hands that bring the farm to life - the cheesemaker, chef, butcher, beekeeper and preservationist, and Master Gardener, John Coykendall.

Under John’s wing, they’ll learn the different uses of wild and cultivated plants on a foraging expedition and how to use them to create a nutritious menu. At the heart of it, it’s a lesson in the circle of life, one that can only be truly understood when lived.

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