By Marlee Moore
Just five minutes off Interstate 20, travelers turn onto a quiet country road, hop out to meet farmer Henry Dorough and pull their campers into HD Farm’s pasture for a picturesque overnight pit stop.
HD Farm in Eastaboga is part of Harvest Hosts, a program allowing members one-night access to stay at farms, vineyards, breweries and more. Travelers in the program pay a small annual fee and are encouraged to spend at least $20 at each stop.
“Guests get a safe place to stay for the night off the beaten path where they can enjoy the scenery,” said Henry, who runs the Talladega County farm with his wife, Paula. “We have a fifth-wheel camper and like the idea of having people come to our farm to learn about agriculture.”
HD Farm joined Harvest Hosts in 2021 after a vetting process. The location went live Feb. 28, and the Doroughs booked their first guest that afternoon.
While anyone can see pins noting general locations on the program’s phone app, only members see host names, addresses and booking information. Classic membership is $99 annually; an expanded membership including access to golf courses is $139.
Henry approves each reservation individually. Acceptance is partly based on camper size since guests’ rigs must fit in one of three RV locations on the farm — in a pasture, near the farm’s old dairy barn and along Choccolocco Creek. While Harvest Hosts members can haul all classes of RVs, vehicles must be self-contained (with an interior toilet and built-in holding tanks) and meet each host’s requirements.
Farm availability is weather-dependent, too.
“We’re a working farm,” Henry said. “We’re putting you and your camper in pastures, which we don’t need to rut up.”
HD Farm has offered a scenic respite for guests from 37 states, plus travelers from Canada, Switzerland and France. Visitors can explore along the creek bank, pick sunflowers, watch sheep munch grass or purchase cuts of pasture-raised lamb.
While guests run the gamut from retirees to families embracing virtual school, their common thread is adventure — and Harvest Hosts locations like HD Farm and Whippoorwill Vineyards in Notasulga engage all the senses.
Tim and Vickie Watkins own Whippoorwill. Their guests, like spring visitors Marie and Govert Breen of New Jersey, can soak up the sounds of nature and sights of muscadine vines while sampling local wine.
“It was just so peaceful and welcoming,” Marie said. “We love traveling with Harvest Hosts. We see things we normally wouldn’t see. It breaks the trip up to have a destination like Whippoorwill. We really get to see America.”
One reviewer called Whippoorwill “a must-stop,” while others mentioned their new affinity for muscadine wine and appreciation for the farm’s laid-back charm.
“People really become like extended family,” Vickie said. “It’s a neat way of getting customers into your venue who would not have come otherwise.”
Reviewers tell similar stories about the Doroughs’ dual-purpose destination.
“The guests get a good product (lamb) they can use on their trip,” Henry said. “For us, we get new customers and meet good people from everywhere. We haven’t had a bad guest yet.”
Visit HarvestHosts.com to learn more.