D Acres of New Hampshire: A Refreshing Weekend Getaway
By Elizabeth Bagley
One March Saturday afternoon I sat in front of my computer searching for an escape weekend where I could temporarily forget my usual responsibilities. I placed a search in Google for “hostel” and “New England.”
Generally my experience with hostelling has turned an ordinary trip into a memorable adventure. I often unpack my bags at home to find little pieces of paper with scribbled names and phone numbers of new friends.
Some of those friends I have remained in contact with for years. From my good experience with hostels I have come to choose my destination not by surrounding activities but rather the hostel itself.
I came across D Acres of New Hampshire, located in Dorchester, New Hampshire, population approximately 300, no stoplight, no convenience stores.
Not an Ordinary Hostel
D Acres of NH is not an ordinary hostel; it’s a non-profit organic farm and homestead, as well as a summer camp and educational center.
Hostels usually consist of dorm rooms separating male and females, a basic kitchen, and a social area. D Acres has an assortment of rooms. Only one is a dorm room, which sleeps three, allowing for a little more privacy than typical dorms that sleep six to twelve.
There are also two private rooms: the green room and the library. The green room has a cozy home-away-from-home feel. For book lovers the library offers an enormous stock of books ranging from Edward Abbey to how to build a tree house.
The D Acres Homestead
A loft separates the guests’ area from the public space below. As an avid reader I could not help but choose the library.
The hostel also acts as an educational facility, teaching visitors about sustainable living and organic farming. Visitors may come for a day taking a class on building tree houses, growing mushrooms, restoring furniture, gardening and many other topics offered over the course of the year.
For longer visits guests may experience firsthand how to live sustainably and organically by actively using the staff’s bountiful knowledge. Periodically D Acres offers screenings of documentary movies and discussion groups.
Leaving Stress Behind
I arrived at D Acres relatively late and exhausted from a busy, stressful Friday. As soon as I stepped through the front door I felt more relaxed. Flames from the living room’s stove enticed me to sit a moment and rid myself of the March cold permeating my body.
My fixation was broken by laughter on the second floor. Quietly I drifted upstairs to be met by a group of boisterous residents of D Acres. Louis greeted me and without filling in the usual paper work upon check-in, he showed me directly to my room.
Before even dropping my bag I became absorbed in the titles within the library. With each shelf I added to my mental list of books to read, forgetting I was only staying for two nights.
Peeling myself away from the scores of books I began to look around the room’s interior. The wood that made the stairs and banister of the sleeping loft had been created into a piece of art.
The woodworker had stayed away from the traditional vertical or horizontal lines forming instead a pattern resembling a giant sun.
August and Henri
Sleepiness moved me towards the bathroom to prepare for bed. This is one aspect of the hostel I had been excitedly anticipating. All the toilets in the building were composting. Curiously I peered into the bathroom testing for any offensive smells, ready to plug my nose. The room smelt woodsy. The composting toilet looked and smelled just like a normal flushable toilet, maybe better.
The procedures for composting toilets go as follows: open the lid, do the deed, place one full cup of sawdust located next to the toilet down a very dark, abysmal wide pipe, and close the lid.
The only unusual smell comes from the wood chips, giving a slight reminisce of the great outdoors. Eventually the pipe reaches the basement where all the matter collects, is treated and is harmlessly discarded without using unnecessary gallons of water and energy.
A Delicious Breakfast
D Acres has the option to include food with the guest’s visit, another uncommon aspect to hostelling. To truly experience D Acres, joining the farm residents for breakfast and dinner is a must. Pork, eggs, herbs, seasonal vegetables and fruits come from the property.
Born at D Acres
After a comfortable night’s sleep I walked into the kitchen to help prepare eggs so fresh from the coop they were still warm, mixed with dried rosemary from last summer, potatoes on the side, homemade bread and sausage.
After taking my last bite of my delicious breakfast, I put on my shoes and took a tour of the farm animals. The farm has two enormous oxen, August and Henri, who are used to plough the fields, haul heavy loads, and clear trails on the 180 acres of mostly forested property. There is an abundance of pigs and piglets as well as several varieties of chickens.
Situated just south of the White Mountains, near the legendary climbing hot spot in Rumney, New Hampshire, the hostel is a doorstep to many different outdoor activities. Climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are only some of the activities a guest has offered to them a short distance from the farm.
Two days of eating hearty food, hiking the back woods, and exploring surrounding New England towns, gave me a perfect, refreshing weekend getaway. I returned home with new recipe ideas for cooking and ready to take life on in full force once again.
For more information on D Acres of New Hampshire, visit their website.
Elizabeth Bagley is a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the manager of the GoNOMAD Internet Café in South Deerfield.
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