Breathtaking scenery, fresh food, a peaceful, bucolic setting: Holding an event at a working farm or ranch can be a spirit-lifting experience. Here are some that have cropped up right in your own backyard.
ABBEY ROAD FARM BED & BREAKFAST // Carlton, Oregon
Three renovated grain silos house this Oregon Wine Country bed-and-breakfast run by John and Judi Stuart, who opened Abbey Road Farm in 2005.
With several gardens and three indoor event areas, the farm can accommodate large groups or transform into a more intimate setting, says Judi Stuart. The farm’s flexibility is evidenced by the variety of events—from fundraisers to antique car shows—it has hosted.
Both the English Garden and Parlor Garden can accommodate 50 guests. The 6,000-square-foot Wedding Triangle and Pavilion can fit 250, the 8,000-square-foot Flag Pole Lawn holds 150 and the 12,000-square-foot Outdoor Corral can host large groups of up to 500—and that’s just outside. The Parlor Breakfast Room can accommodate 12 people inside and 24 on the covered patio outside. At nearly 12,000 square feet, the Arena Events Center can fit 100, and the 2,000-square-foot AgriVino Event Center can accommodate 65 seated and 100 standing.
Event planners looking for an environmentally friendly venue will find it at Abbey Road Farm. “Our farm is as sustainable as can be,” Judi Stuart says. The farmer in charge of the fields uses sustainable agricultural techniques, and guests dine on organic foods, including fresh eggs from the resident chickens and produce from Abbey Road’s garden.
Abbey Road Farm’s renovated silos haven’t gone unnoticed outside the Northwest: The farm will be featured on Great American Country’s show You Live in What?, showcasing its unique bed-and-breakfast rooms.
RIDER RANCH // Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Rider Ranch is an authentic ranch setting offering good old-fashioned hospitality. “We are the hosts and part of every activity,” says Owner Linda Rider. “Our crew usually includes some of our kids, and now even grandchildren.”
Rider Ranch began hosting events in 1986, but it has been in the Rider family since 1952. Approximately 10 years ago, the ranch acquired additional property nearby, called The Willows, for larger groups of up to 300 (though 100 to 150 is preferred). The ranch’s saddling barn can accommodate 20. The star attraction is the horses, and Rider Ranch offers guided horseback rides (depending on weather and trail conditions) through beautiful pine forests.
The ranch can provide essentials such as tables and chairs, as well as food (outside caterers are also welcome) for corporate parties and other private events. Since most activities at Rider Ranch take place outside, the staff works with clients to make sure there’s a backup plan in case of rain.
SPRING CREEK FARM // Palmer, Alaska
A satellite campus of Alaska Pacific University, Spring Creek Farm has been open for events since 2006, but its history goes back to the late 1940s when it was a dairy farm.
Event facilities include a covered wooden pavilion (capacity of 50) with a cob oven and a yurt (capacity of 50) heated by a wood stove. The coop (farm school building) can hold another 65, while the farm’s schoolhouse can accommodate another 15.
Spring Creek is surrounded by wooded trails and mountain views, but it’s close to town, making travel to and from events convenient, says Megan Talley, farm manager. Spring Creek Farm has primarily hosted educational workshops (from first aid to beekeeping), community potlucks and university classes, and provides meeting space for local organizations.
Explaining the allure of the farm, Talley says, “This place inspires something in people that I can’t quite explain. Maybe it’s the open fields with mountains springing up in the background, or the quiet nooks you come across when walking through the trails, or stumbling upon the spring of Spring Creek Farm. It’s just a beautiful place.”
SUNSHINE RANCH WEDDINGS // Horsefly, British Columbia
Despite its name, Sunshine Ranch Weddings hosts more than just weddings. The ranch also holds an annual celebration of Swiss National Day and provides space for corporate events, birthdays and reunions.
“We are a working ranch and family-run, and it is a unique setting, as well,” says Silvia Laffer, one of the owners and managers of the ranch.
Sunshine Ranch has its own private lake and showcases meadow, forest, mountain and Little Horsefly River views. On-site, a wooden barn with a saloon brings rustic charm to gatherings of up to 200 guests. And nearby, the town of Horsefly offers restaurants and shops aplenty.
The ranch has camping areas for tents and RVs. For attendees choosing less rustic sleeping quarters, drivers are on hand to take guests staying in Horsefly back to town following an event.
21 ACRES // Woodinville, Washington
A nonprofit organization with a strong commitment to sustainability, 21 Acres is an ideal venue to hold events that aim for a small environmental footprint. In fact, says Jane McClure, 21 Acres event coordinator, the farm is one of the greenest event facilities in the region.
The 21 Acres Center, where the meeting rooms are located, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinumcertified building with several eco friendly features, including a living roof with vegetated cover, rooftop solar panels, highly efficient geothermal heat pumps and HEPA air filters to ensure that the cleanest air possible flows through the building. No green detail is too small—bathroom paper towels are even turned into compost for the gardens.
21 Acres features three event spaces, each with a maximum capacity of 50. In the farm’s kitchen, the chefs and kitchen team—all graduates of Le Cordon Bleu—turn out tasty fare. The farm doesn’t use olive oil, lemons and other products that can’t be sourced locally. An exception is coffee and tea, which 21 Acres sources from small, fair-trade producers.
“Everything we do here has multiple layers of thought for what went into it,” says McClure. “That’s what we try to share.”