Caption: Sunrise Over the White Mountains at a Harvest Host Location
Written by Shari and Hutch
Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted with permission from the Northwest RVing Blog hosted by MHRV (Manufactured Housing and Recreational Vehicle) Show Association. For information, go to www.northwestrving.com.
Walking through vineyards, drinking mead, petting alpacas, screening cult movies, sampling moonshine, processing blueberries, and camping in unique places…what do these have in common? If your answer is Harvest Hosts, then you already know how cool this program is; if not, then read on!
If ever there was a win-win situation built into finding a place to boondock for the night in your self-contained RV, the Harvest Hosts RV Membership Program tops the list. Nearly 3000 wineries, farms, breweries, distilleries, golf courses, amusements, and more are all looking to find creative ways to bring people to their properties, and make use of their ample parking lots at night. RVers driving across the country, or roaming their home region, are looking for interesting, quiet, and safe places to park for the night. Harvest Hosts brings these two groups together; and like the perfect pairing of a dry Riesling and artisanal cheese, something unique is created that transcends the sum. More than just an overnight stay, more than just a quick visit to a gift shop or tasting room, these unique experiences create relationships to place, terroir, and the small independent business people who passionately share their property and purpose.
Sunrise Over the White Mountains at a Harvest Host Location
We felt like we’d maybe gotten into a bit of a rut when it came to our overnight parking locations. After nearly 9 years of living on the road, we had our regular “go to” places for boondocking, low-cost camping, and even overnight parking while going from here to there. When we first heard of Harvest Host, it made so much sense, and we’re simply not sure why we waited to join. If you own an RV, it’s the perfect gift to yourself or an RVing friend or family member this holiday season!
Here’s a Rundown of How it Works
You need to have a self-contained RV, which means you boondock/dry camp without the need for a water, sewer, or electrical hook-up. While this is the overall rule, occasionally Harvest Hosts have limited hook-ups available for a small fee. No tents, dumping of grey/black water, trash, etc. are allowed.
- Create an account at Harvest Hosts. Save $20 off your first year’s membership fees if you sign up between 11-22 and 12-31-21! **If purchasing as a gift for someone else, see instructions at the bottom of this blog.
- Download the Harvest Hosts app to your smartphone via Google Play or App Store.
- Search a region you want to visit via the “Map Search” to identify Harvest Host locations nearby and/or use their “Search Route” function if you are traveling through the area. You can also filter by Host type (indicated by color-coded icons) or for a specific Host name.
- Contact the host through the app using the “Request a Stay” button.
- Await their reply to confirm availability. Most of the hosts that we contacted got back to us within a few minutes during regular business hours.
- Confirm your reservation and let them know when you’ll be arriving. Most hosts will specify a preferred arrival time window.
- Get there and enjoy what the unique place of business has to offer! Be sure to have your membership number handy as most hosts will ask for it upon arrival.
While no purchase is mandatory at the tasting room or farm store, it is a good practice and habit to get into. Afterall, they have opened up their property for your stay at no charge and their hospitality is all part of the business plan. At all of our stays, we found things to purchase that we would pay for anyway: wine, beer, eggs, fruits, and vegetables are all part of our monthly budget. Instead of paying $40 at the State Park for one night, you can spread that local investment around and get a couple of glasses of wine and an appetizer, and get a safe place to park for the night…and meet other RVers to boot.
|**Give a Harvest Host Gift Membership this Holiday Season!**
The best way to give a gift membership and save 20% off this holiday season is to sign-up with the gift recipient’s information. The gifter needs the name, email address, and rig type (can be very basic) to sign them up. If you want to keep it a surprise, there is a way to change the email address inside of settings — so you can set the email to your own and then change it to the recipient’s address after. Note: Credit card information would need to be adjusted for auto-renewals, too!
Our ‘Tour de Harvest Hosts” this Autumn!
As we traveled from Maine to North Carolina this year, we knew that a number of campgrounds would be closing up for the season, so we joined Harvest Hosts to broaden our variety of boondocking options as we made our way south. Each has been so different from the next and has covered a wide array of our passions and interests, from suburban breweries to stunning wineries to rural pastures.
After finishing up our work season on the coast of Maine, we stopped by a friend’s farm called Continuous Harmony Farm near the quaint coastal village of Camden. While touring their gorgeous property, we met another young family living in a small bus who are just a few months into full-time roadlife. New to the Harvest Hosts program this year, Doug and Nicole keep bees, run a full-scale low bush blueberry operation in July and August, raise sheep, and are always involved in a whole host of other unique farm-based opportunities.
Ever tried mead, the fermented, tasty adult beverage made from honey? We’ve enjoyed some mead in the various places we’ve traveled, but have never seen such an incredible selection of options in one place until we stumbled upon Moonlight Meadery in Pittsfield, NH. They are world-renowned, boasting 40 international awards for their mead made from True Sourced and Certified Organic honey. With tables both inside and out, it’s the perfect place to stop for a drink and appetizer or even take some back to your RV. Since they have an extensive tasting menu, Chelsea helped us choose a selection to try, as well as purchase a unique gift for an upcoming wedding of some good friends — mead is a traditional wedding gift and the source of the term “honeymoon.” We stayed the night in their quiet gravel lot, just off their main parking area, with a view of the White Mountains from our bedroom window!
After five days of conducting seminars at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, PA, we couldn’t wait to spend a relaxing night tasting wine at a local vineyard. Just 15 miles southeast of Hershey, PA, we found exactly what we sought at Grandview Vineyard. We enjoyed a selection of their drier wines, and were blown away by the quality of their distinctive Merlot. They encourage RVer’s to park in their vineyard, just down the hill from the winery and tasting room. We bought a bottle, paired it with stuffed Portobello mushroom caps over pasta with vodka sauce and assorted veggies, and enjoyed one of the quietest boondocking nights we’ve ever had while watching the full moon rise over their beautiful vineyard. On a Monday night, we had the place to ourselves…it was a treat!
On our way to a friend’s wedding near Baltimore, we needed an easy stop for the night just outside of the city, so contacted a Host along our route. Cult Classic Brewery, on Kent Island just east of Annapolis, MD, is just as quirky and fun as it sounds. With a movie-themed decor, they offer a wide selection of beers on tap and good pub food, all with a backdrop of cult classic movies playing on the big screen. RVers are encouraged to park behind the taproom in an open lot away from the highway. You may take your dinner to go, or eat inside and enjoy whatever funky flick is playing that night.
On Halloween weekend, we met up with some great friends at Franklin County Distilleries to enjoy their first Halloween Bash and try some of their historic moonshine. Franklin County, VA was the Appalachian “moonshine capital of the world” back in the days of prohibition. With a wide variety of flavors and distillations available in their tasting room and restaurant, they keep that tradition alive. We parked our vintage trailers next to the creek running behind the property (which also helps to drown out traffic noise from the highway), enjoyed dinner on their outdoor patio by the fire, and then dressed up in costume and danced until closing time. The incredibly friendly staff really dressed up the restaurant/bar with some festive decorations and our friends even won the “Best Duo” costume award!
We had so much fun at the distillery, we continued on with our vintage trailer buddies and stopped at Cobb Hill Alpaca Farm, where the owner, Tom, wins the “most consummate host” award. He confirmed a farm tour with us via his reservation system, and happily met us upon our arrival. For the next 45 minutes he showed us his 20 or so alpacas and answered many of our curious questions about these oh-so-soft, four-legged members of the Camelid family. We circled our vintage wagons on a beautiful portion of his property near the creek, put on our cozy alpaca socks we had purchased from their farm store, and settled in for an evening of pumpkin soup and spooky cocktails — all with the glow of autumn color radiating off the hills around us.
We’re not giving up on camping, not by a long shot, but Harvest Hosts adds just another option in our toolkit of finding fun and safe places to stay for a night. With the wide array of options and the variety of experiences to have, it will add some spice to our routine, and we can’t wait to see what else is out there!
About the authors: Shari and HutchEmail: ShariHutch@northwestrving.com
In 2012, Shari Galiardi & David Hutchison left behind careers and a comfortable home in North Carolina to travel with the vintage camper trailer they lovingly restored, outfitted with solar, and named “Hamlet.” What began as a short break from careers and responsibility quickly turned into a love affair with roadlife. They have parlayed their higher education backgrounds, desire for life-long learning, and thirst for adventure travel into writing, photography, video production, and public speaking gigs from coast to coast. Known to their friends as simply Shari & Hutch, you can learn more about their full-time, solar-powered adventures on their website at freedominacan.com.