As new RV owners, we were peppered with several membership programs. So many, I quickly lost count along with any idea of which we belonged.
- Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) – camp discounts
- Good Sam’s for camp discounts and roadside assistance – $79/year – we definitely weren’t leaving home without this
- Flying J/Pilot rewards card for fueling points (free) which gives us store/fuel discounts (which has already earned us a gallon of water yahoo!)
But there is one we joined that had my full attention and interest – Harvest Hosts. This one I heard from Gone With the Wynns – a cute and entertaining couple traveling the U.S. with a great informational blog about RVing.
Harvest Hosts is an annual membership for RVers that costs just $44. With it you get a great and easy to use, searchable map of available “hosts”. It is a barter system of sorts. As they are “harvesters” – i.e. farms of many varieties, vineyards and more – the “trade” is a place to park your RV overnight in exchange for sampling and buying product. It’s a great win-win especially if you like variety and love to support and mingle with locals along your journey.
But it”s not for the frugal looking for free camping. If you respect the system, the rewards are plenty. Harvest Hosts is about the experience.
Our first Harvest Hosts were outside Toronto, Ontario (in Hamilton). Puddicombe Estate Farms and Winery is a cornucopia of stops. A vineyard that also farms peaches, pears, cherries and they have a petting zoo, train ride around the property and a cafe where they serve up a light lunch menu and homemade fudge.
We bought up about CA$50 worth of fudge, food and cider among a few assortments.
As for our stay, it was fun chatting with the workers and family of the farm. It was quiet and as there are workers who live on the farm, we kept our noise to respectful levels – no generator at night.
And the ultimate for me, I awoke before 7am and walked the farm as it arose and snapped some photos as I reminisced abouty life around the farm as a kid and about life in general.
It was a great introduction to Harvest Hosts. The only thing that was unnerving was trying to call the farm ahead of time (the day of our arrival). No answers to calls. And upon arriving, the first person we spoke to said they didn’t allow overnight guests – so we panicked a bit. We had 2 backups (highly recommended) but we found a manager who knew the program and was super sweet, courteous and welcomed us to enjoy their offerings.
And after tasting their great locally grown products, we DID enjoy and will go back every time we’re through Toronto/Hamilton. Note: be sure to try the maple fudge.
Our next farm stop is not on Harvests Hosts but if you have kids and RV, you will want to stay tuned and hear the story and experience. Hint: it involves pizza!