Glamping and Farming in Westport

Choosing a place to stay on vaction can be the hardest part of the planning process. If you're like me and coming from a city, you might prefer serenity and no sounds of traffic. Or, perhaps you want to be close enough to the bustle. It often depends on the location, the amount of people you’re traveling with, and the time of year. What if there were a place that met all of your needs?

DaCy Meadow Farm might just be that place. This working livestock farm on 72 acres of land, owned and run by David and Cynthia Johnston, has a quaint bed and breakfast, a modern residence complete with a loft overlooking a cow pasture, and two glamping sites. You can stay rustic or modern, and you will be a minute’s drive, on Route 9N, from downtown Westport on the shore of Lake Champlain in one direction and the High Peaks in the other. I sat down with Dave and Cynthia to chat about DaCy Meadow’s recent additions. DaCy is always evolving and each year something new is added. This year it’s glamping.

DaCy Meadow Farm is more than just lodging, though. It is the labor of love and creative project of Dave and Cynthia. Dave is an avid hiker who used to run a hostel in Keene and Cynthia is a former superintendent of the Keene public schools. DaCy Meadow hosts farm-to-table meals (by reservation); offers volunteer opportunities on the farm; and features 3.5 miles of trails including one CATS trail open to the public. The dining hall where meals are hosted is decorated with art from local artists, celebrating the rural lifestyle. Dave and Cynthia's efforts to combine lodging with farming is a way to pay homage to the rural life. They both grew up around farming — Dave on a commercial dairy farm in Burke and Cynthia on a homestead near Keeseville.

Dave and Cynthia's collaborative project, DaCy Meadow Farm, is a great representation of what small farms in the Adirondacks have to offer. Not only does DaCy feature their own products in their meals and farm store, they feature the products of several farmers in the region. Dave told me, “The family farm may not exist anymore, but it’s wonderful to watch the young people take over these small family farms (in and around the ADK) and to create whatever their love is, whether it’s a dairy, a vegetable garden, or a butcher shop.” Cynthia responded, “Each one of us has a niche but we all complement each other very well.”

Each meal served at DaCy, save for olive oil and salt, is locally sourced. Dave and Cynthia sell their beef and chicken in their farm store just down the road from the farm. If you are headed in the direction of downtown Westport you can’t miss it on the right side of the road. They also have a sugar shack that produces enough maple syrup to share with guests, and as Cynthia remarked “enough to top your pancakes” that they serve for brunch.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, they will have two glamping sites open for lodging, one will be located where they once had an oxen stall and the other a former horse stall. Each site will be decorated with pictures of their former beloved oxen, Barnum and Bailey. In addition to glamping, they are adding gray water showers and compost toilets to the property because of their commitment to sustainability.

The "residence," another short-term rental on the farm, will be up and running this spring. Its loft, where the bed is located, overlooks a cow pasture that David calls “cow TV.” The residence, which feels like a modern cabin, was once a barn. DaCy Meadow was previously an abandoned hay field, and Dave and Cynthia kept as much from the original property as they could. The residence shares the same footprint as the original barn and has the original barn board which is now part of the residence's ceiling.

When I asked Dave and Cynthia what is the most exciting thing about running DaCy Meadow, they both readily responded with the guests. In their first three years of operating, people visited from 37 different countries. Dave and Cynthia have travelled all over the world to visit their guests because of the bonds they created. Cynthia told me, “We’ve had hundreds of volunteers come and stay with us, live with us, work with us, and have guests that come for dinner. It’s fun. We’ve made great friends.” And Dave reiterated, “100% the best part and that’s why continue to do it. It keeps us young.”

DaCy Meadow runs year-round, with guests filling up the place all four seasons. Dave and Cynthia’s approach to the hospitality business is to give people the experience they want. Dave explained, “We let the guests decide. If someone wants to come here and stay in a nice room so that they can go hiking the next day they can do that, if they want to embrace and throw themselves into the farm experience for the whole time, they can do that. We want our visitors to have the experience they want.”

The 3.5 miles of trails, along with a CATS trail open to the public, provides an opportunity to get to know the lay of the land…and the cows. According to Cynthia, if you own a diverse property like theirs, with so many different habitats, you want to share it with somebody.

Dave and Cynthia invite you to celebrate the rural lifestyle on this beautiful piece of land bookended by the best the Adirondacks have to offer — the High Peaks on one side and a quaint downtown along the coast of Lake Champlain on the other.

If you love water and want to check out the local flair, spend some time in Westport, along the shore of Lake Champlain. Westport is also home to the Essex County Fairgrounds.

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