chapter  4
10 Pages

Farmstay enterprises: (Re)interpreting public/private domains and ‘home’ sites and sights


Since the 1970s, impacts of globalisation, climatic crises, environmental pressures and rural farming practices have contributed to substantive changes in agricultural production (Gössling and Mattson 2002; Jennings and Stehlik 2000; Wilson et al. 2001). As a consequence, Australia, like other western industrialised nations, has undergone significant restructuring of its rural industries. This restructuring, especially since the 1980s, has occurred in association with decreases and/or cessation of ‘state’ support, in particular, subsidisation of agricultural industries. This period of restructuring has been described as a ‘post-productive transition’ (Ilbery et al. 1998) phase. Farmers who have been able to adapt to this phase, as well as deal with stressors, such as, climatic crises and other shock events, demonstrate ‘adaptive capacity’ as well as ‘resilience’ (Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics, ABARE 2007). The specific capacity of farmers to successfully recoup and maintain their farm-based livelihoods as a result of their responses to crises and stress is described as resilience (Ellis 2000; Walker and Salt 2006). One demonstration of adaptive capacity and resilience has been diversification of farming operations. One particular innovative diversification response has been the introduc-

tion of farm-based tourism experiences into the pluriactivity of farming operations. This response has been undertaken in Australia as well as other western industrialised nations (Evans and Ilbery 1992; Jennings and Stehlik 1999; McGehee et al. 2007; McIntosh and Campbell 2001; Tyrväinen et al. 2001). It should be noted, however, that farm tourism enterprises are not recent phenomena; ‘vacation farms’ have over 100 years of history (Weaver and Fennell 1997). What is new is the incorporation of farm tourism into farming operations of western industrialised nations as a result of rural restructuring and continued ‘shock’ events. Key drivers of this innovation have been farm women (Frederick 1993; Garcia-Ramon et al. 1995; Jennings and Stehlik 1999; Knight 1996). Although farm tourism innovations have been diverse, they can be categorised into three types: (1) farmstays – accommodation in a farm setting; (2) farm attractions, which involve demonstration

of farming activities; and (3) farm experiences, which are associated with accommodation and involvement in farm activities (Davies and Gilbert 1992). In all three types, tourists buy farm experiences rather than farm products, although tourists may also consume farm produce as part of their farm experiences. There is a burgeoning literature on tourism/tourist experiences (Jennings

2006) as well as discussions of the experiential nature of accommodation settings (McIntosh and Siggs 2005). With regard to the theme of this book, the commercial home, this chapter reports on the lived experiences, and in particular, ‘the nature or meaning of everyday experiences’ (Van Manen 1990: 9), for farmstay providers within the context of farming pluriactivity. Of the three types of farm tourism mentioned above, farmstays and farm experiences fit comfortably into the commercial home interpretive framework described by Lynch and MacWhannell (2000). Moreover, the chapter serves to broaden understandings of home constructs beyond commercial private home settings to consideration of commercial private home enterprises embedded within complementary and competing farming contexts.