Down on the farm

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Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

0312_Conversation_ScottieJones_01
Scottie Jones and her Sicilian donkey Paco at her Alsea farm.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
When former Phoenix residents Scottie and Greg Jones decided to abandon city life and buy a farm in Alsea, about 25 miles southwest of Corvallis, the couple planned to make a go of it selling lamb and hay from the 64-acre spread. But when farming proved to be less than self-sustaining, Scottie, a former marketing director for the Phoenix Zoo, decided to bring in extra money by hosting urbanites hungry for a weekend on the farm.

It was a smart move. Last year, Jones grossed $28,000 from her “Leaping Lamb” farmstay, attracting overnight guests eager to gather farm-fresh eggs, pet the resident sheep, and brush Paco, the Sicilian donkey.

Now Jones is spreading the wealth. In 2010, she launched FarmStay U.S. (farmstayus.com), a website designed to connect guests with farm and ranch stays throughout the country. Modeled after similar programs in Europe, Farmstay now has 950 participating farms, including 27 in Oregon.

Sitting in her ramshackle but cozy farmhouse, set among wet green hills, the 58-year old Jones talked to Oregon Business about diversifying small farms, teaching city dwellers to touch nature and how guests from outside the U.S. are best at scooping poop.

OB: Why should a small farmer play innkeeper?

A farmstay equalizes and adds value to small farms. It isn’t dependent on the price of lamb; it isn’t dependent on the price of hay. I’m booked every weekend from mid March until the end of October and have guests in January and February. I block out December so I don’t have a nervous breakdown.



 

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