After 23 years of living across the street from a farm first founded in 1774, Bonnie and Charles Caserta of Walpole, New Hampshire, weren't about to let developers ruin the view. After the owner of the farm moved into a nursing home, the 105 acres sat vacant for four years. "What we had to do was preserve it," says Bonnie. In 1998, the Casertas - who run a financial-planning business - decided their best choice was to buy the farm for themselves.
"My parents love tradition and family history," says their daughter, Jacqueline Caserta. "They loved the idea of keeping this place together."
Then they had to decide what to do with it. The main house, which has 17 rooms and two cottages, each with three bedrooms, "was trashed," says Jacqueline. And the 100-year-old post-and-beam barn "was just falling." While cleaning the farmhouse with Jacqueline, Bonnie offhandedly mentioned that the house would make a great B&B.
"She said, 'I'm game if you are,' " says Bonnie.
Though they knew it would be a "huge undertaking," the family realized it was the best way to pay for the farm's upkeep and keep the land in one piece.
After a major renovation and cleanup, the Inn at Valley Farms was born. The inn includes rooms in the main house, which are "more elegant and upscale," says Jacqueline, who serves as innkeeper. The inn also features kitchen-equipped cottages designed to help families with kids get a taste of farm life. Jacqueline also has an organic garden that has become increasingly important as a marketing tool: "It's part of the ambience," she says. There is also a larger garden on the property where they grow garlic that is sold to local restaurants, as well as "a little bit of everything else, other than corn." Last year, a guest who helped harvest the entire garlic crop was rewarded with a free night's stay.
Along with the human guests on the property, the farm is also a refuge for some four-legged creatures. A local farmer leases part of the property as a “maternity camp for cows,” says Jacqueline.
Contact (603) 756-2855, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.innatvalleyfarms.com
Or Consider Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, Michigan: (231) 271-4970, innkeeper@black starfarms.com; www.blackstarfarms.com
While wandering the United States, freelance writer — and dedicated New York City dweller — JENNA SCHUER has toured farms from Florida to Alaska. Visit her online at www.jennaschnuer.com.