The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it, probably forever. Now with the push of the vaccine distribution, people around the world have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite that, millions of lives were lost around the world. Harvest Hosts would like to respectfully acknowledge these lives lost, while still trying to highlight some positives that have come out of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, many businesses had to close their doors. Many of these either relied on foot-traffic or tourism, while many were not able to cater to delivery or pickup dining options. On the other hand, many communities came together to support their local businesses by purchasing gift cards or patronizing their favorite business as regularly as possible. Almost every business has had to adapt to these changes and rack their brains to figure out how to continue to gain revenue and also how to generate new income. As a result, many businesses joined Harvest Hosts in 2020 as a means of supporting their business through an additional avenue: traveling RVers seeking overnight accommodations in safe, quiet, and unique locations. In exchange for the overnight stay, RVers make a purchase to support their Host business. It’s a win-win all around.
We’ve had countless Harvest Hosts locations reach out with testimonials about how the program has allowed them to remain open for another year of business due to the income generated from visiting RVers. There have even been news articles published highlighting small businesses that have remained afloat. Check out some of the highlights below about some of our specific Host Locations and the ways in which Harvest Hosts helped them to survive the pandemic.
Robb Family Farm – Brattleboro, VT
The Robb family has lived on their farm for over 100 years. Before COVID-19 hit, they operated a profitable business selling their homemade maple syrup and maple products. In March 2020, they had just tapped 5000 trees and begun harvesting the sap when they had to make the difficult decision to close their doors to visitors for the first time ever. The farm realized they had a surplus of another untapped resource: parking. They discovered the Harvest Hosts program and were able to safely accommodate visitors once more.
‘“From the virus we suffered a huge financial loss but we found another revenue stream we never knew existed,” said Helen, who has hosted RVs from gigantic busses to tiny teardrop trailers. These campers were allowed to stay overnight next to their pasture that holds a dozen or so beef cattle and their calves. “It saved us,” she said. “And it gave us a new appreciation for our farm.”’ –vermontbiz
The Robb Family Farm continues their operations today and still welcomes Harvest Hosts members. This Harvest Hosts location offers three reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch – Robbins, NC
Misty Morning Ostrich Ranch is run by Ryan Olufs. Many of their ostriches are rescued from a local farm that went out of business. They sell ostrich meat, eggs, and other products, with their main source of revenue coming from local restaurants utilizing their meats.
‘“Every restaurant canceled all of their orders,” Olufs says. “Essentially, once those executive orders came out our revenue went to zero.”
Luckily, the influx of RV tourism kept them afloat. Misty Morning Ranch began allowing Harvest Hosts members to camp out on their farm, raising revenue. Olufs says his revenue is still down overall for the past year, but he hopes the new customers visiting the farm will help out in the long run.
“Farms are the ultimate small business because it makes our community run, but it also produces our food,” Olufs says.’ – Spectrum News 1
Misty Morning Ranch is open daily year round and continue to welcome Harvest Hosts members to their farm. This Harvest Hosts location offers eight reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Iron Fish Distillery – Thompsonville, MI
Iron Fish Distillery is Michigan’s first working farm dedicated to producing small-batch spirits. They currently produce a variety of gins, vodkas, whiskeys, bourbons, and more. They also serve wood-fired pizzas along with appetizers and cocktails. The business was no stranger to the Harvest Hosts program when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They had previously been hosting RVers since 2019 and were already reaping the benefits. Increasing their number of available spots was the next logical choice during the pandemic.
‘Jesse Den Herder, creative marketing for Iron Fish, said being part of the RV camping program went so well the first year that the distillery decided to increase its spots to eight.
“It was one of those ideas that seemed pretty brilliant,” especially with the trend that has more baby boomers enjoying cross-country travel in RVs. “We are booking up,” he said. “We are just really excited about it. Given the pandemic, it’s a great way to social distance in a fun way.”’ – M Live
Iron Fish doesn’t plan on leaving the Harvest Hosts program anytime soon. Who can blame them? This Harvest Hosts location currently offers four reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery – Hanover, IL
Owner Rosario Bruno has been making wine with friends for decades. It began with producing wine in the basement with friends from Italy: hand-choosing California grapes together fresh off the box-cars. This lasted for five or six years and rounded out his wine-making education. After running his own successful electric business, he had to follow his passions of wine-making.
‘Last year, a group of customers at Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery suggested Vicki Bruno list her business with Harvest Hosts to increase their income. Bruno kept the idea in the back of her mind, but when she was forced to close her business for several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to use the downtime to sign up for Harvest Hosts.
“We started getting phone calls and emails right away,” said Bruno. “We just commit to one or two (RVs) per weekend, but I get like ten or fifteen calls each week. I can’t even keep up…’
Since signing up for Harvest Hosts in June, Fergedaboudit Vineyard and Winery has had about fifty guests stay overnight in their RVs. They are able to park at the site, explore the winery, and hang out for the evening.
“It’s been really cool,” she said. “They just kind of hang out with us all day. The main purpose is for them to reciprocate. There have been people who have bought a case or two of wine. It has definitely been worth it financially.” Bruno said guests have come from around Illinois and all over the country to get a break from the city and check out a rural winery. “Every one of them has been wonderful.”’ – Telegraph Herald
Harvest Hosts members have felt right at home visiting this winery. They currently offer two reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs under forty-four feet in length.
Morris Farm Market – Barco, NC
Morris Farm Market’s roots go back to 1982 when Walton and Ginger Morris were selling sweet corn out of the bed of their truck under two pecan trees. Now the thriving market is open and selling tons of different produce, located right next to those same two pecan trees.
‘Morris Farm Market co-owner Ginger Morris told News 3 the farm is closed for the season, but its parking lot is open to allow passers-by to settle for the night on their travels. She added that the program has brought business to the farm market.
“They make sure to support us. We don’t ask for that, but it’s definitely a polite thing for them to do,” Morris explained. “It definitely shows the character of Harvest Hosts. You can tell they instilled this in the people that are part of their program.”’ – WTKR
Morris Farm Market has been with Harvest Hosts for four years and continues to invite RVers year after year. This Harvest Hosts location offers seven reservable, pet-friendly spaces for RVs of any size.
Additional Resources and Articles
While several articles published highlighted the many ways in which Harvest Hosts allowed businesses to stay afloat throughout 2020, even more articles have been written about Harvest Hosts’ effects on small businesses aside from the pandemic. Many businesses across North America have been reaping the benefits for years, and even more continue to sign up for the program on a regular basis. Below, we have highlighted some of the recent press surrounding Harvest Hosts.
This article shows the many ways in which Harvest Hosts stands out from the pack as an attractive camping alternative. It goes into detail about all the ways in which it allows RVers to gain to access beautiful farmlands at a much cheaper rate than traditional campgrounds.
Thriving Farmer Podcast Ep 113. Lisa Manning on Hosting RV Travelers on Your Farm with Harvest Hosts
On this episode of the Thriving Farmer Podcast, Harvest Hosts’ Manager of Host and Member Success is interviewed about the program. Listen as she dives into the history of the company, the demographic of Harvest Hosts members, what types of farms are a good fit for the program, and more.
This publication goes into detail about how Harvest Hosts provides a much-needed change of scenery for weary RVers. If you’re tired of blinding Walmart parking lot lights and the loud traffic near highway rest areas, it’s time to try Harvest Hosts!
Harvest Hosts has always been beneficial for small businesses, but the pandemic paved a new way for many businesses to make money that will stick with them forever. In these times, many businesses still need a helping hand. If there’s a local business in your area with a parking lot large enough to accommodate at least one RV, be sure to recommend they sign up for Harvest Hosts. There is no cost to the Host to sign up, and they get to set their own rules, hours, and RV size. Why not connect a local business with a new means for additional revenue? Be sure to let us know if there are any you would recommend!
Where is your favorite Harvest Hosts location that you’ve visited? Where are some of the ones on your future-visit list? Do you plan to visit more Hosts this year? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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