In Japan, they have something called forest bathing or shinrin-yoku. It is the act of making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest, not just walking through the forest. This is why I am calling my family’s recent “glamping” trip on a farm in Vermont “Farm Bathing.” I immersed myself in the land, gave my mind, body, and spirit to many mosquitoes, and may have taken the lives of several tiny moths up the nose.
Why am I taking the time to write about Farm Bathing when I spent a good portion of the 3.5 days donating blood and scratching? Because it was magical, and we can’t wait to do it again.
Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away named Berkeley, California, my husband and I met up with his old college buddy, Tim. He and his family were visiting from Vermont. I am not sure if we were married yet, but I remember really liking Tim, Becca, and their (then) little girls. I wasn’t even a fan of kids*, but these kids were super chill, bright, and engaging. Tim and Becca were also really kind and zen without being creepy. They seemed totally at ease with who they were (not something I would be able to feel until my late 40s). Please insert a compliment about my age here – even if you don’t know me.
I am not sure if Instagram was a thing at the time, but I ended up eventually following Farm Craft on Instagram via their newsletter. I am so grateful that Tim and Becca documented their adventures in landscaping, family, and farming in Vermont (before it was cool) and the eventual launch of their business, Farm Craft on, Instagram/Facebook otherwise this experience may never have happened. Six years ago, they sold their farm in Addison, VT and bought their second farm in Shelburne, VT. Seed by seed by pig by sheep by bunnies by bees by chickens, they have created a nearly self-sustaining farm and natural care product business.
I was already a fan of their gorgeous soaps and happy-smelling, natural products and longed to visit la finca one day. When I saw that they were launching “glamping” and camping on their farm a few months back, I didn’t say a thing to “el hombre” and just booked that “s.” I took one look at the Hershey’s Kiss-shaped tent with beds inside and squealed with joy. I had no idea what I was getting us into.
So, a few weeks back, we packed up the kids and many things we weren’t sure we needed into the borrowed Thule. Five hours and no iPads later, we arrived at Farm Craft VT in the town of Shelburne. Wait, no. FIRST we stopped at Bread and Butter Farm, per the suggestion of our hosts, to pick up some insanely fresh farmy provisions like raw milk! And half n half. I cannot live without half n half, and you have not tasted half n half until you have tried Vermont half n half! And that ain’t the half of it!
There are many farms in the area with stores selling gorgeous painting-worthy produce and proteins, but the cool part is that most, including Farm Craft, operate on the honor system! Almost twilight-zoney but pretty beautiful. Many have iPads where you choose the items you are purchasing and pay without the help of anyone. Strangely, this doesn’t seem overly techy but extremely old-fashioned. They trust you enough to pay for what you take.
“Son, what was your favorite part of visiting the farm?” Son: “Making our own tea, watching Becca make soap, and feeding the pigs.” While I agree that these were wonderful experiences, I was expecting the six-year-old to say, “fishing, riding on a tractor, and identifying bugs.”
I cannot guarantee that everyone who camps on this farm will get to make their own tea or watch Becca make soap, but I am hoping that they will add these experiences to their offerings. (The plan is to offer hands-on classes when the new workshop is completed in Spring 2022.)
“Farm Craft is a ‘Seed to Soap’ operation, meaning that the goal is to grow and manufacture the majority of the raw ingredients that go into the products on the farm – including seed oils from sunflowers and hemp, essential oils, and fresh and dried herbs and flowers. This is still the first year, and it has been ridiculously labor-intensive, but we are working out the kinks to create a high- quality terroir line of essential but beautiful products.”
One of our favorite “pieces” of the trip, besides making stir-fry at our campsite in the pitch dark, was taking the farm tour, or what felt like a mini-seminar on organic botanicals. Becca is an ecological designer and VT-Certified Horticulturist. She lives, eats, and breathes life-enhancing plants and herbs and physically takes you through the fields, plant by magical plant. You get to see, touch, and smell everything and learn about all of the incredible properties and possibilities of each plant on a 90-minute walk for just $15 a person. Kids learn, smell, taste, and frolic for free.
As I sit here applying Farm Craft Cooling Balm to my “mosquito kisses”, I am already planning our return to “our” Sunrise Bell tent campsite for next summer.
*I like kids now. Most of them. Even some babies.
Visit Farm Craft online to check out all of their amazing offerings and to book your Farm Bathing glamping trip.
(Photos property of Claudia’s Tasty Bits. Please contact Claudia Ossa with any questions about this post or anything you need to get off your chest. You heard Farm Bathing here first. I think. Just typing something has to have some kind of legal significance?)