Gopher Getaway: Trendy vacation puts city folk in the middle of a farm

8:44 AM, Jul 30, 2011   |    comments
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FOUNTAIN CITY, Wisc. -- City slickers are swapping sandy beaches for green pastures, as farm stays become more popular.

"We stopped in Chicago on the way and it was nothing but noise," explained farm guest Dan Spiess. "We came and it was just quiet."

Return to the country

Dan and his wife Barbara are spending their vacation on Room to Roam Farm in the bluffs of the Mississippi River near Fountain City, Wisconsin.

"There's something special here," Dan said. 

Some guests come to this farm for rest and relaxation, others are ready to roll up their sleeves to help with the crops and livestock.

"They don't make you get up in the morning and feed the animals, but you're welcome to get up in the morning and feed the animals," Barbara explained. "So it's a good way to see a little bit of country life."

The birth of a business

Jess and Mary Veraguth started Room to Roam Farm back in 1998.

"My wife didn't think I was going to do it," farmer Jess Veraguth said.

But Jess convinced his wife Mary to create a farm stay out of the place up the road they bought from neighbors.

"They said nobody's going to come there and watch you do work basically, or help you do work, or pay you besides," farmer Jess Veraguth said.

The naysayers were wrong. Jess and Mary's farm has become a popular vacation destination for people all over the world.

"About every state in the union, Cuba, South America, Egypt, India," Jess said.

Guests pay $400 a week and provide their own food for a stay in the Veraguths air conditioned, three bedroom farmhouse. What happens next is all up to the visitors.

"There's no set schedule," Jess said. "We've got people that get more involved and we've got people that just want to be left alone."

The Spiess family is getting involved and enjoying it.

"We're trying to pitch in wherever they need help," Dan said. "This is a great place."

Call it a 'haycation'

The Veraguths are among a growing list of families opening their farms to visitors. 

Jess and Mary can answer more questions about their operation.  Contact Room to Roam Farm at 608-687-8575. lists dozens of places in Minnesota and Wisconsin offering accommodations similar to the Room to Roam Farm.

Some are hands-on farms, others only allow visitors to watch the work. Families are welcome at some places, others are geared toward adults.

For a list of area farms and their amenities, visit's farm finder page.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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