Bavaria lures city-folk with farm work holidays

"The best remedy for burnout? Shovelling horse manure." That's the counterintuitive slogan for Bavaria's latest summer holiday campaign - to get jaded urban professionals doing some physical labour - and pay for the privilege.

Bavaria lures city-folk with farm work holidays
Photo: DPA

If you have unruly kids with a chronic eye-twitch brought on by videogame addiction, you could do worse than take them on a lovely agricultural holiday and make them feed some pigs at the crack of dawn.

That, at any rate, is the thinking behind the Bavarian tourist board’s latest publicity drive.

“The children get up early to help out. Then the parents have some time to themselves,” farmer Anna-Maria Spann told the Münchner Merkur newspaper.

The 24-year-old Bavarian grew up with five brothers and sisters on 40 hectares of land with 60 dairy cows and 250 fruit trees. The family has three holiday apartments on the farm, which has a noticeable lack of saunas, gyms and masseurs – here you get healthy by getting your knees dirty.

“We already get a lot of doctors and lawyers,” says Spann.

Bavaria’s association of holiday farms, Urlaub auf dem Bauernhof, now boasts 1,200 members and the tourist trade appears to be booming.

“Some farms now specialise in tourism,” said association head Gerda Walser. Last year, the number of overnight stays on Bavarian farms increased by four percent to 12.3 million.

She says the poster campaign, which hit grey streets and underground train stations in Germany’s metropolitan centres this week, has drawn a lot of positive resonance.

Bavarian Agriculture Minister Helmut Brunner praised the initiative. “In Bavaria’s 5,500 farms, we now have as many overnight stays as the whole state has inhabitants,” he said.

There are of course bucolic options for the lazy urban holidaymaker. Some farms are exclusively for the leisure business – where you can simply admire the picturesque grazing horses from afar, rather than cleaning their stables.

And other farms even boast on-site distilleries and beer gardens, where you can quietly get sozzled in the sunshine as the pigs grunt in the distance.

The Local/bk

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