This article about farmstays was on the Sunday Times yesterday.

“I have fond memories of our family holidays on a farm in Wales when I was a child. It was noisy, smelly and full of psychopathic geese, and the barn conversion consisted of shooing the cows out and chucking a couple of bunk beds in, but I still loved it.

Things have changed. Back then, tourists were a way of making a few extra bob, somewhere below turnips on the list of priorities. Now, the Soil Association estimates that 60% of its members rely substantially on tourism. We’ve moved up the pecking order, with a commensurate increase in the quality of the accommodation, facilities and welcome.

Like farming itself, such stays are now a global business: you can experience life on the farm in its many forms across the world. Here’s my pick of the best.

Italy, Le Marche: Locanda della Valle Nuova

Just outside the Unesco World Heritage-listed town of Urbino, this is a rigorously organic farm (pure-breed Marchigiana cows, wheat, fruit, vegetables) with solar heating and other green initiatives, all set on 185 acres. It has a pool, stables with horses to hire and woods that, in autumn, have truffles. There are six chic, modern rooms (no roughing it here) and two apartments for two.

From £50pp per night, B&B, or £75pp, half-board; 00 39 0722 330303, Fly to Ancona, an hour’s drive away, with Ryanair (0871 246 0000,”