Ever wanted to entice more customers to frequent your farm store? Or wanted to share your livelihood with people from across the country? Harvest Hosts is a company that is connecting RV’ers to farmers across the country to give beautiful places to visit, and farmers more income from visitors frequenting their businesses.
“As RV’ers we’re always looking for more unique and interesting places to visit,” says Harvest Hosts CEO Joel Holland. “Campgrounds provide a utilitarian experience. But you know when you go to a farm, it’s just better. It really is a full experience and you meet the proprietors; you get to taste the freshest and best produce.”
Fluffy Fields winery
One of these farms partnering with Harvest Hosts is Fluffy Fields Winery in Dickinson, N.D. “When we first opened, they had called me and asked me if we wanted to do it, and we had just opened, so my hands were full,” says Fluffy Fields owner Deb Kinzel.
After a customer to the winery suggested they become part of Harvest Hosts, Kinzel gave it a second thought. “One night I was checking it out, and before we knew it, we were signed up to do it,” she says.
Fluffy Fields was created by the Kinzels in 2010, and has 13 varieties of wine grown from their on-site vineyard.
“Some are sweet; some are dry. It kind of depends on what we produce,” Kinzel says.
Fluffy Fields outsources some of its fruit and produce needed to create their wine. “We buy some from North Dakota, some from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, just because we don’t have enough here to give us what we need,” Kinzel says.
SEASONAL VARIETIES: Fluffy Fields creates numerous varieties of wine each year — some seasonal versions and others that are a permanent part of its menu. (Sarah McNaughton)
Visitors to Fluffy Fields will find a picturesque indoor and outdoor eating area, surrounded by the winery’s vineyard.
“People love it here. They like the food, they like the atmosphere, kind of like a family thing. We have a lot of regulars, and we have a lot of tourists, so it kind of flips,” Kinzel says. “We’ve kind of found to be a destination point for people who are traveling from the east to Medora, or they’re in Medora and they want to visit somewhere else nearby.”
In addition to being a restaurant and winery, Fluffy Fields hosts weddings, local musicians and other events.
Being a Harvest Host
“The requirements are that you have a place for our travelers to park that’s pretty flat, and that you have a product to sell them,” Holland says.
For travelers, they are encouraged to frequent the farm shop, and purchase merchandise from producers.
“On average our hosts make an additional $13,000 in revenue a year from our members, and we don’t take any piece of that. There’s no cost to be a host; it’s always completely free,” he says.
The travelers arrive to their Harvest Host destinations in fully stocked RVs, and do not require any electricity or water hookups.
“Our members are fully self-contained,” Holland says. “They have a bathroom, onboard kitchen. They come with their own water. So there’s zero hookups required from the hosts. All our members need is a flat place to park, then the permission to spend the night as a 24-hour stay. Our members will typically always show up during business hours, come in and patronize the business, whether that’s buying the wine or produce. And then they’ll go back to the RV and spend the night [and] take off the next morning.”
During the pandemic in 2020, Holland says they saw an explosion in memberships. “Our membership more than doubled last year. People are excited to be traveling safely and RV’ing is a really good way to do that. But our hosts numbers also almost doubled, because there are so many small businesses that are looking for additional revenue, especially during COVID.
“We got a lot of really heartwarming testimonials from businesses and wineries saying, ‘We thought we’re gonna have to close down permanently, because no one was showing up, but Harvest Host members kept coming day in and day out,’” Holland says.
The Dakotas are home to 37 Harvest Hosts, and Holland hopes to grow that number.
“We want to have coverage in every state,” Holland says, with some states such as California having as many as 139 hosts. “I would love to see the Dakotas get to 100 hosts, because I’m confident there are hundreds of businesses in the Dakotas that are beautiful places to visit with room for an RV, and could benefit from our members.”