“When we started farming, our goal was just to feed the restaurant, but it has evolved organically to become a guest experience,” says garden manager Jeff Ross. “There are no fences or gates; there’s no place on the farm that’s off-limits. You have full access to all the production of our food.” And that includes everything from feeding sheep to foraging for morels to a whiskey tasting at the on-site distillery.
And Blackberry Farm appeals to families, too, with children’s programs and tailored farm-driven activities such as digging for potatoes, feeding chickens, and making blackberry jam. Not surprisingly, several of these agritourism-inclined properties are sprouting up in locations or regions that have a strong history of agriculture, whether it be Sonoma County or Cape Town, South Africa.
At the heart of the 18-room property is an 8-acre garden, a veritable Eden of fruit trees and vegetable patches designed by famed French architect Patrice Taravella. Divided into 15 clusters, the garden features more than 300 varieties of fruit trees, including 50 types of trellis-trained stone fruits and a prickly pear maze. And all of this supplies the on-site restaurant, Babel.
“The moment someone walks into the garden, they unwind,” remarks Roos. “There’s the obvious beauty, but there is the sound of the chickens and the texture of the apricot pits as flooring that we recycled. It’s inspiring and it makes people want to garden. They feel revived.”
Once you’ve been revived by the garden or greenhouse-cum-tearoom, consider some of the farm’s activities, which include accompanying the duck herder and his 250 charges as they wander about harvesting snails. This spring, Roos launches several master classes on property, from pruning to bread baking. It seemed like the next logical step, she explains.
At the other end of Africa, Morocco also boasts an incredibly rich agricultural heritage and tradition, from the harvesting of saffron to argan oil cooperatives. The country’s dramatic landscape, including mountain ranges, river valleys, the Mediterranean coast as well as the Atlantic, beguiles. Culinary tourism continues to thrive here, with so much tradition and custom attached to food, and ultimately, agriculture.