201. Get Growing: Gentleman Farmer’s Family Goes Glamping

The Gentleman Farmer's Family Goes Glamping at Manor Farm

Glamping, a portmanteau blending the words glamor and camping, has become a rather popular alternative to the traditional concept of this favorite summer pastime.  My family and I were recently visiting relatives in England and spent four nights glamping at Manor Farm in Jane Austen’s county of Hampshire.  

I felt like a true pioneer woman cooking over a wood burning, pot belly stove and eating by candlelight.

Farmers Anna and Will and their children Daisy and Bertie were the first glamping site in the UK for the glamping company called Feather Down Farms. While glamping can happen anywhere, Feather Down partners with farmers across Europe, the UK and yes, the U.S! to offer families insight and exposure to a true working farm.  Families (the tent comfortably sleeps six) can spend minimally two nights enjoying the rural atmosphere while helping out on the farm–should you choose to.

At Manor Farm, Farmer Will looks after over 1000 sheep, fifty beef cattle and cooperatively farms hundreds of acres of grains including barley, wheat, spelt, rape and rye.

Will was born into a family of farmers which had been farming the same land for over 100 years. They were offered the ability to purchase their portion of it from the “noble” family which had owned it in the late 70s. They have offered glamping as a part of their farm for over 10 years.

During our stay we were able to tour the farm with Luke their young farm hand. We also enjoyed meals in the open air, loads of running around playtime, bonfires and waking with the early dawn chorus only to drift back off to sleep tucked under a cozy, duvet comforter with the kids as natural hot water bottles to cuddle.

In Illinois, we have our very own Feather Down Farm glamping-site only about an hour (and some) away from Barrington! Kinnickinick Farm in Caledonia is a working farm that grows organic vegetables and raises goats, sheep, hogs and chickens. The farm has five large, upscale tents which fits up to five adults or a family of six. None of the tents has electricity or bathrooms (bathrooms with showers are about 100 feet from the cabins). But each tent has a dining table and chairs, outfitted kitchen with running water, a potbelly wood burning stove, cool box and sofa.

We shopped before our arrival and brought things that were easy to cook on the stove such as chilli, and sausages. But all the farms have honesty shops which offer their own produce, farm fresh eggs and dairy along with some other creature comforts like fresh ground coffee beans, tea, jam and honey. Some farms offer stew packs which you can cook over the fire on a tri-pod, or breakfast hampers which offer freshly baked breads and pastries, eggs and bacon.

I’ve always felt that the term “glamping” is a bit of a misnomer as a glamping experience, although providing comfortable beds, duvets and pillows, is still busy work!

Trying to stoke a fire for an hour and a half in order for the stove to become hot enough to boil the kettle for tea in the morning is an exercise in patience and perserverence! But as with all camping experiences, it’s the satisfaction of the meal under the stars, the slowing down to be present with your loved ones and the ability to connect with the land that makes it truly priceless.

You’ll find more information about the glamping experiences our family has come to know and love, visit Kinnickinickfarm.com and FeatherDownFarms.com.  And if you’d like a taste of the produce we grow on our farm in Barrington Hills, visit us at the Barrington Farmers Market or one of our CSA shareholders at Gentleman-Farmer.com.

About the Author

Jessica Green and her husband Dominic run The Gentleman Farmer, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program from their family farm in Barrington Hills.  You’ll also find the Greens selling their freshest fruits and veggies at the Barrington Farmers Market on Thursdays weekly from 2 to 7 p.m.  When they’re not working on the farm, Jessica and Dominic keep busy looking after their two young boys, Henry and Oliver.

Jessica also authors our Get Growing with Jessica Green series here at 365Barrington.com about farming, food and family.

For more information about Jessica and Dominic’s efforts in local and sustainable farming, visit Gentleman-Farmer.com.

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