The Independent Parent: Where can we stay on a working farm in Europe?

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Q: In the past, we have enjoyed some great holidays staying on working farms in Italy. Much as we love Italy, we were hoping to repeat the experience in another equally warm and interesting country this summer. We are a family of three (two adults and our 10-year-old son) – any advice? L Miller, Herts

Q: In the past, we have enjoyed some great holidays staying on working farms in Italy. Much as we love Italy, we were hoping to repeat the experience in another equally warm and interesting country this summer. We are a family of three (two adults and our 10-year-old son) – any advice? L Miller, Herts

A: For travellers wishing to immerse themselves in rural culture, nothing fits the bill quite like an agritourism holiday. Several countries in the Mediterranean are home to a thriving number of agritourism projects. Accommodation is offered on a working farm or within a farming community with the option to try activities such as fruit-picking, wine-making, walking or horse-riding. Guests are also often given the chance to help out on the farm, and many farms offer excellent home-cooked cuisine.

While Italy is one of the most popular destinations for holidays of this nature, Cyprus is another option to consider. Several years ago, the Cypriot government awarded grants to people willing to convert dilapidated farms into agritourism holiday homes. The Cyprus Agrotourism Company (00 35 722 340071; www.agrotourism.com.cy) is an umbrella organisation which represents a number of smaller agritourism companies in Cyprus. Its website allows visitors to book holidays in more than 50 traditional Cypriot houses offering farmstays.

From Tochni in the Larnaca region to the agricultural village of Episkopi near Limassol, there are 26 villages across Cyprus to choose from. The small village of Kalavasos is a popular agritourism destination. Located between Larnaca and Limassol, it's a 30-minute drive from both cities, and the beach is just a 10-minute drive away. Horse-riding, fishing trips, walking, mountain-biking and farm activities such as cheese-making are on offer. A half-day's horse-riding costs from £12 per person and bike rental, £5 per person per day. In addition, you can visit wineries, go orange picking during the summer months and even pick up some Cypriot cooking skills.

Cyprus Villages (00 357 24 332 998; www.cyprusvillages.com.cy) is a member of the Cyprus Agrotourism Company and one of the leading agritourism companies in Cyprus. It features a number of properties within the Kalavasos farming community, including a one-bedroom apartment sleeping three people. This will cost around CY£375 (£424) per week for departures between 20 March and 31 October. This price excludes flights but includes car hire, or taxi transfers to and from Larnaca airport.

Cyprus Airways (020-8359 1333, www.cyprusairways.com) operates scheduled flights from Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted to Paphos and Larnaca, with prices from around £179 return and £120 for children under 12.

It may be cheaper to book with one of the charter airlines offering flights to Cyprus, including Britannia Airways (0870 8014390, www.britannia-direct.com) and Air 2000 (0870 757 2757, www.air2000.com).

You can book an agritourism holiday in Cyprus through a UK-based tour operator such as Argo Holidays (0870 066 7097; www.argo-holidays.com). A week in a one-bedroom apartment in Tochni between 18 July and 3 September costs around £539 per person and £329 for your son (under 12; sleeping on a sofa bed). This includes return flights from Gatwick or Heathrow to Larnaca, seven nights self-catering and car hire.

Agritourism holidays are also on the increase in Spain. These casas rurales offer good value for money and are also very popular with Spanish holidaymakers. Accommodation can vary from B&B in a farmhouse, to self-catering apartments or full-board in grander restored manor houses. The best sources for information are the regional Spanish tourist offices. You can obtain their contact details, along with some general information from the Spanish Tourist Office (020-7486 8077, www.uk.tourspain.es) in the UK.

The Balearic Islands, long associated with beach holidays, now have a wide range of agritourism properties as well, with Mallorca in particular breathing new life into what was once quite a depressed farming industry. The Association of Balearic Agrotourism (00 34 971 721508, www.agroturismo-balear.com) lists more than 50 farmhouses as agritourism centres and rural hotels. The organisation doesn't take bookings but gives the contact details and prices of individual properties.

For example, Es Rafal Podent (00 34 971 1831 30) is a country estate dating back to the 15th century, located just outside Manacor on Mallorca's east coast. The farm has animals and also cultivates organic fruits and vegetables. The house, which comprises five furnished apartments, also has a swimming pool and common dining room and extensive grounds. An apartment sleeping three people costs €106 (£70) per night.

In July, return fares to Palma cost from around £108 for each of you with British Airways (0845 77 333 77; www.ba.com) from Gatwick and around £65 per person with easyJet (0870 6000 0000; www.easyjet.com) from Luton.

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