Come for the FAIR, Then Embark on an Ecotourism Adventure

Reader Contribution by John D. Ivanko
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Come early or spend a few days after the three days of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR, held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania this September 12 – 14, 2014.  Less than 30 miles from Seven Springs Mountain Resort, there’s an ecotourism adventure to be had.  You can sleep at three very different farmstays every evening. Our family rafted, biked, toured some of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, and savored farm-to-table cuisine that blew us away at The Historic Stone House. 

Enjoy this photo essay of the ecotourism adventures not to be missed.  Here’s the links to my previous blogs on the Laurel Highlands, the first focused on the adventures and the second on the lodging and dining options; both contain more details for you to plan your own trip.

Of course, my co-author and wife, Lisa Kivirist, and I would enjoy meeting you at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR at one of our many presentations, including Powering your Homestead with Renewable Energy, Farmstead Chef, and our popular, Sustainable Living Simplified, where we share our journey to break free of fossil fuels, end the mortgage (aka “death pledge”), be our own boss, grow most of our own food and prepare it in your farmstead kitchen.

The Laurel Highlands stretch over three counties of mountainous terrain that starts a little over an hour east of Pittsburgh and encompass over 120,000 acres of state and federally managed parks.

 We spent most of our time traipsing through the woods around the spectacular Youghiogheny River Gorge in the Ohiopyle State Park.  An easy walk west from Ohiopyle is the bridge that crosses the river.

For the adventurous, try out the “water slide” in Ohiopyle.

Running the “Yough,” as it’s often called, is one of the best white water rafting opportunities in the Eastern US.  We ran the river with Laurel Highlands River Tours.

Ohiopyle is basically the epicenter for biking, hiking, whitewater rafting and touring Frank Lloyd Wright homes.

The internationally-renowned Fallingwater home, designed in 1935 for the family of Edgar J. Kaufman, owner of a Pittsburgh department store, became instantly famous for it’s distinct look and design.  Perched over a waterfall, the home and its centerpiece stairway down to the stream, brings the homeowner closer to nature.

Kentuck Knob, is just up the road, nestled near the top of a ridge that offers a panoramic vista of the surrounding countryside.

Consider a stop to Friendship Farms and their Bunznudders Bakreamry for some homemade ice cream, breads and a wide assortment of other edibles. They also have a nursery of native plants on site.  The farm is operated by Mrs. Naomi Costello and two generations of her family.

Go “glamping” (glamorous camping) at Campbell Hill Farm, located northeast of Ohiopyle on a 65-acre homestead.  Besides the comfty tent, it includes an outdoor kitchen and a heated tub to go for a relaxing soak with a view of the mountains in the distance.

Campbell Hill Farm also offers a cabin accommodation that overlooks a pond.

For a pampered farmstay, try out the Inne at Watson’s Choice, based on a 1820s land-grant farm just outside Uniontown.  Plentiful outside seating allows you to enjoy the sunrise or sunset.

Outside Ligonier rests the historic Foxley Farm, a 58-acre estate once used for fox hunting and which still has a fenced riding ring used today.

Much of the ingredients for their meals comes directly from Foxley Farm’s gardens.

The Stone House Restaurant, located along the original National Pike, the first national road built in the early 1800s that became a gateway to the West. Executive Chef Jeremy Critchfield focuses on farm-fresh ingredients, prepared and inspired by seasonal abundance.  We’re definitely headed back here for a sumptuous farm-to-table meal.   Another option is Out of the Fire Café in Donegal, with their signature roasted mushroom soup and smoked salmon sampler, savored as you take in the mountain vistas from their patio seating.

There’s no shortage of roadside farmstands. Create your own simple farm-to-table meal.

Hope to see you at the Fair — or running the Yough. If the weather cooperates, we’ll be running the Lower Yough.

John D. Ivanko, with his wife Lisa Kivirist, have co-authoredRural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winningECOpreneuringandFarmstead Chefalong with operatingInn Serendipity B&Band Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS. As a writer and photographer, Ivanko contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently,9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine.