Agritourism continues to blossom in Jackson County


A campsite isn’t a standard part of a farm.

Raising sheep, chickens, pigs — these are all relatively common enterprises on a small scale farm. But this year, we decided to add a new piece of our business puzzle: offering an on-farm campsite via Hipcamp. This is just one more way we’re aiming toward a diverse, thriving farm.

“Agritourism” can be a booming piece of a farm business. Agritourism includes pumpkin patches, corn mazes, Christmas tree farms, hay rides, on-farm markets, wine tasting rooms, or anything that invites people to experience the farm.

Indiana has more than 130 “U-pick” farms and orchards, plus more than 200 wineries and distilleries. In Jackson County, you can find farmers offering almost all of these options, which is excellent.

We want more people to feel a connection to farms and to their food. We also recognize that people want to visit farms, and that their visits can be a source of income. It seems only logical to add some agritourism options at Nightfall.

Nate and I worked for two years on a demonstration farm, welcoming visitors from nearby and from more urban areas to learn about sustainable agriculture. We loved leading hayrides, field trips, and hikes on the farm.

When we moved home to start Nightfall Farm five years ago, people asked if we would offer similar farm camps and field trips. We knew from experience that running a full education program was a big task.

We decided to keep things simple: when people asked to visit, we tried to say “yes.” We started welcoming small school groups, gardening clubs, homeschool families, and college classes.

Our visitors taught us something very important: people are aching for time on farms. They enjoyed visiting — seeing the animals, soaking in the peace and quiet, and being “away from it all.” We always took these as major compliments, and we’ve said for years now that we like visitors because they make us slow down and enjoy the farm. Still, our “agritourism” remained limited to very informal visits.

But this last year or so, we decided to start listening more to those visitors. We pondered what agritourism options might fit our farm. We considered a pumpkin patch (and I advocated for a pumpkin “chucking” festival, complete with catapults). We contemplated traditional options (like a Christmas tree farm) as well as unusual ones (ultimate Frisbee tournaments). In the end, we decided on something brand new to the area: Hipcamp.

Hipcamp is like Air BnB, but for campsites.

In short, people can reserve a campsite on our farm (or one of more than300,000 other sites on private property nationwide). Many Hipcamp sites are on farms (including farms run by farmer friends in Paoli and in northern Indiana). The sites can be tent sites, RV sites, cabins or somewhere in between.

Our site is called “Sunrise Shelter.” You can see more pictures at or search for “Sunrise Shelter” at

It is a three-sided shelter with a platform, so that people can roll out their sleeping bags in a shady, dry place, but still have a full view of the forest. It’s positioned just behind our 1800’s barn. It faces east, so campers will have a view of sunrise each morning. There’s a campfire ring for fires and a place to hang a hammock. Visitors will be able to request a farm tour, walk through the woods or explore the Muscatatuck River. We’ve tried to design our Hipcamp site to require very little from us, and offer visitors a fun, laid back way to explore the farm.

This will be our first month taking reservations for our Hipcamp site. As we built our shelter, we daydreamed about visitors and how this agritourism option can help our farm continue to grow and thrive. We tried to keep our hopes in check, and we’ll simply have to wait and see how successful this option is for our farm.

At the very least, we have a fun, new place for family and friends to stay when they visit, or for a picnic. And if it works, we have a new, low-energy way to share our farm with others and generate income. We’ll report in on how it goes.

Liz Brownlee operates Nightfall Farm in Crothersville. Send comments to awoods@aimmedia

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