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  • Writer's pictureAnneliese Abbott

Organic Camping: Vacationing on Organic Farms in the 1960s

July 1956 Organic Gardening and Farming
The cover of the July 1956 Organic Gardening and Farming magazine promoted organic road trips

Where did organic farmers go on vacation in the 1960s? To other organic farms!

Beginning in 1955, Rodale Press began publishing an annual listing of successful organic farms that people could add to their summer vacation itinerary. Their first list, published in Organic Gardening and Farming magazine in July 1955, included important farms like Ruth Stout’s garden in Connecticut, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer’s Threefold Farm in New York, Grailville in Ohio, Walnut Acres in Pennsylvania, and of course the Rodale experimental farm.

By 1956, the list of organic farms had grown to 150. “There are places in every section of the country where you can stop and ‘talk shop’ to organic gardeners and farmers,” Organic Gardening and Farming announced in the July 1956 issue. They did encourage people to “call or write first” and schedule a visit instead of just dropping in on busy farmers.

In 1959, OGF added a new dimension to their list of organic farms. “Many organic gardeners and farmers are interested in taking camping trips that would bring them to places of ‘organic’ interest,” they explained in the March 1959 issue. In June 1959, they published a list of organic farms that would allow visitors to camp on their property. Many offered full meals of fresh organic produce as well. “We believe it is now practically possible to drive and camp across the country, stopping only at places where the organic way of life is practiced,” they announced.

In August 1961, M. C. Goldman urged readers to “get the most” out of their summer vacations by combining educational stops at organic farms with camping trips in the National Parks and National Forests. “Wherever the road takes you past farms or orchards, stay alert to the soil and cultural practices being used,” he advised. “When your vacation starts, set out with an eye to making it a meaningful one. Let the things you see and do inform and touch you. There’s an indefinable, glorious inspiration in the land and its nature—and you’ll be better for seeking it.”

Camping and organic farming were a natural combination, forager Euell Gibbons believed. “The organic gardener is usually a very successful camper because he has developed attitudes that enable him to wring the maximum amount of joy from the experience,” he wrote for the July 1967 issue of OGF. “For when he began applying organic methods, he discovered that nature must be approached with a spirit of respect and cooperation, rather than one of coercion. He has a built-in appreciation of the wilderness, for he recognizes it as God’s great organic garden, forever proving that natural methods build and do not destroy.”

Gibbons believed that organic gardeners were inclined to be more conscientious than the average camper. They were more likely to avoid large developed campgrounds and seek a more natural wilderness experience. And the Organic Gardening and Farming editors took it for granted that organic farmers would be far more likely to go on a camping trip to a National Park than to visit a crowded tourist resort area.

So when organic farmers went on a road trip in the 1960s—at least if they took advantage of the Rodale resources—they took an organic road trip. They stopped at organic farms as they traveled across the country, and they visited wilderness areas to enjoy “God’s great organic garden,” too. The two combined made an unforgettable organic vacation.

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