Originally published August 2020; Migrated and revised March 2021
Travel date July 2020
Traveling through central Idaho, we found a few unique agri-tourism stops. A quick tour at Ballard Dairy Farm left us with some cute cow pics and a fridge full of award-winning cheese. Next, we enjoyed RV camping at an Idaho farm. Kraay’s Garden provided us an abundance of farm-fresh products and a new-found appreciation for plant-based diets.
How to find farms for agri-tourism?
Our farm visits were not as random as just spotting them along the roadside on a trip. After seeing, Ballard Farm cheese for sale in a local Idaho ice cream shop I googled them to learn more. Their website listed farm tours and I knew we had to go. I found Kraay’s Garden via our Harvest Host membership.
Detour to Ballard Dairy Farm
We made a quick stop at Ballard Dairy Farm in Gooding Idaho for a tour. It is a family-owned farm and their cheeses are award-winning. I had seen their artisan cheese varieties at the Cloverleaf Creamery in Hagerman and googled the farm out of curiosity. It was along our route to Yellowstone and I was interested in touring the farm.
I emailed the farm in advance to ensure they had a parking space large enough for Pippi and tour availability. They replied both were available. The cows were very curious about the motorhome as we parked.
Tours of Ballard Dairy Farm
Informal personal tours are available but should be arranged prior to visiting. The website lists tours as $2.50 per person but the fee was waived because we purchased cheese.
The farmer’s wife, Stacie, and her grandson actually gave us our hour-long tour. She explained the progression and growth of their farm from a few Jersey calves in 1995 to a multiple-generation family business distributing to grocery stores across Idaho. She patiently answered a lot of our questions about dairy farming and cows.
The Jersey herd was adorable and very curious about us.
Do all cows grow horns?
Most dairy cow breeds will grow horns if humans don’t intervene. Both male and female Jersey grow horns naturally.
How do farmers prevent cows from growing horns?
At Ballard, they put an acidic cream on the heads of adolescent cows which doesn’t allow the horns to grow. Prior to this cream, farmers would cut the horns of young calves which made me think of declawing cats. I am not 100% certain the cream is humane but we were told that modern cow feeding methods are not intended for horned cows. Stacie also told us the cows are very playful with each other and would unintentionally injure others if they had horns.
The cheese-making process was an impressive operation for a small family farm with only a few hundred cows. During COVID, the media kept sharing stories of farmers dumping milk because there was not enough demand for the perishable product.
Ballard lost over 50% of its business during the pandemic because its largest customers are restaurants. Thankfully Ballard Farms did not have to dump any milk but instead used their surplus to start experimenting with different aged cheese varieties.
We love cheese and after seeing all of their varieties, we ONLY bought garlic cheese curds, truffle cheddar, their popular frying cheese (like halloumi), Idaho Pepper Cheddar, and Gruyere. Needless to say, months later, we were still eating Ballard Farm cheese. No regrets.
RV Camping at an Idaho Farm
After our short stop at Ballard, we continued to our destination for the night, Kraay’s Market and Garden in Bellevue, Idaho. We had previously booked our stay through Harvest Hosts.
What is Harvest Hosts?
We are members of Harvest Hosts which partners with farms, breweries, wineries, and other attractions to allow RVer’s to park in their lots for a night while visiting. In exchange, guests are expected to support their hosts by visiting their attractions and making a purchase. It is a great option for quick overnights in unique locations. We receive a small referral fee and you will get 15% off your membership by using our referral link.
Kraay’s was our first Harvest Host experience and it was wonderful. Larry and Sherry, the farmers, were both overly welcoming. Larry bred and raised Arabian horses on the farm for many years before retiring. Kraay’s Garden is a small organic garden. In 2013, they started growing their own food after changing to a plant-based diet.
Now they have a very successful home delivery service for local produce, farm products including eggs and meats. They partner with hundreds of other small farms and utilize an online storefront to customize weekly deliveries based on availability.
Why did they start growing vegetables?
Larry’s family had a history of heart attacks and after a poor doctor’s report, Sherry recommended they try a plant-based diet. Seven years later, Larry is in great health and is a big proponent of the lifestyle. His doctor said he completely reversed his health issues with the diet change.
They started the garden for their own food needs and quickly realized they had a surplus to share so they started the business. Larry walked us around the garden and invited us to pick anything we wanted.
We left with fresh eggs, asparagus, spinach, fennel, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, radishes, and turnips.
If you’ve ever cut fresh asparagus and cooked it for dinner, you’ll know what grocery store veggies are missing – flavor.
Also, I didn’t think I liked turnips until Larry gave me a fresh one to try. Kraay’s Garden was a great introduction to Harvest Hosts.
After a final visit with Larry and Sherry’s animals (horses, goats, chickens, and dogs), we packed up and headed to the nearby Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
Wrap Up: RV Camping at an Idaho Farm
Central Idaho is a lush green landscape dotted with farms. We took full advantage of the options during our trip. First touring a dairy farm and then staying overnight at an organic vegetable farm. It was a nice change from campgrounds and we’d recommend RV camping at an Idaho farm on your next road trip.