Over the years, I’ve come to realize that one factor that makes a family vacation a fantastic green vacation is picking out the right accommodations. For us, that means renting a locally-owned home, wherever possible, as it is more environmentally conscious and more fun. We’ve rented apartments and villas in many countries including the United States, Italy, Canada, and Spain, and during this past summer, we rented a villa in Cyprus.
Our villa had all the usual amenities that help to make a family vacation very relaxing, including a gorgeous sea view, gourmet kitchen, outdoor patio and grill, great restaurants within walking distance, and, of course, a pool. But, the absolute bonus feature was that the villa backed up to a small farm, replete with fruits and vegetables.
The farmer was also the villa’s property manager and upon checking in, he explained that we were welcome to pick whatever we wanted, throughout our stay.
This small gesture ended up being the highlight of our son’s stay in Cyprus. Each morning, he would meander around the field sometimes (sometimes hearing the clanking of the bells that hung around the goats’ necks as they passed by an alternate trail) and pick whatever he wanted – honeydew melons, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers – for the day. We would make fresh salads or grill vegetables, and he would tell the story of exactly where the bounty was discovered on the field.
He connected to the experience in a deeper way than even I expected.
Certainly, he loved learning more about his cultural roots, meeting his distant cousins, and visiting the archeological ruins. But, it was noting the differences in soil color and texture coupled with actually picking out the “just right” fruit or vegetable for his family that has remained with him even now, months after our stay.
Personally, the experience convinced me to buy a share in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture consortium of organic farms) here at home, and reminded that volunteering as part of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program would be in his future.