Farm stays on Airbnb become more popular during pandemic

In the idyllic pastures of the Santa Ynez Valley, Airbnb is becoming a popular source of second income for residents and farmers. The once largely agricultural community has undergone a change in recent years as more city dwellers are relocating to the area, seeking respite from the hectic life of Los Angeles. Some are permanent residents all year round. Others are mostly weekends. But what does this mean for the small farms in the region?

Amid the pandemic, there was even more interest in this serene landscape, says Jen Boulden, who runs an Airbnb on her farm. Located in the small town of Ballard, just about 3 miles from Santa Ynez, Boulden opened the Anavo farm, which largely houses goats. While she continues to live in a house that dates back to the early 1900s with her children on the property, she has transformed the garage into an eco-friendly stay – overlooking her small herd of goats.

Like many small farm owners, she depends on Airbnb for her income. The small herd of goats, she said, would not be able to support the cost of living there. Although they are raised like high quality meat and used for their dairy, they are not a sufficient source of income for her and her family. And yet, instead of completely eliminating the farm she bought in, she decided to merge it with Airbnb to keep the legacy and culture of farming for another generation.

It turns out that it’s also become a popular option on Airbnb: the company reported that Airbnb reported a 1.055% increase in customer searches for “farm stays” in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2019. This also translates into real income: on average, the typical rural host in the United States earned a total of $ 8,448 from the start of the pandemic through April 2021, more than $ 2,000 more than the 2019 average.

Closely related to this trend to include more farm stays on the site is the emphasis on eco-living. Boulden went through many details in renovating its space to make it more environmentally friendly. From simply removing that much plastic to reusing old wood, weaving vintage furniture, and investing in natural, chemical-free materials. She encourages customers to participate in a sustainable lifestyle with refillable bottles, a small kitchen area for preparing and storing meals, and identifiable containers for recycling, compost and waste.

Airbnb wants to help hosts become more environmentally conscious, according to the company. In the UK, they’ve partnered with renewable energy companies like Olio to share simple switches with hosts to run their businesses on cleaner resources. Likewise, in the United States, they have partnered with Arcadia to give some hosts access to clean energy.

Other hosts are stepping off the grid by combining rural life, farm life, and solar power: Big Picture Farm in Vermont, which has a small, thriving business of goat-based products (such as toffee puddings). goat cheese), now has a solar-powered Airbnb for guests. good. Located on the 100 acre farm, this eco-powered property adds to the diversity of income sources for this small business.

Small American farms make up the majority of farms in the country. But the vast majority of our dairy products and products come from large farms which can benefit from subsidy programs, subsidies and various financial programs. To keep small-scale agriculture alive, diversity seems to be the answer. Beyond a marketable product, hosting has become an essential solution. In Europe, agriturismo is a popular form of transportation. But in the United States, could farm stays become more the norm?

Boulden says that while not all of her guests interact intimately with her or her animals, she notes that some want to know more about the farm, its operations and how animal husbandry is done. As someone who advocates for healthier, more localized farming systems, she is happy when a few guests leave with a deeper appreciation for small farm life and ethical meat production.

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