‘Time to let go’: Somerset County’s Faranda Farm for sale; family leaving legacy of agritourism | News
HOLLSOPPLE – Faranda Farm has been a staple of agricultural tourism in Somerset County for 28 years.
In the fall, Philip and Mary Faranda’s property hosted a corn maze, hay rides – and the Faranda name has been synonymous with pumpkins. Year-round, the farm has been a place for festivals, school field trips, and offered fundraising events for local organizations.
“After that many years, we were seeing the second generation of families come to the farm,” Philip said.
As the Farandas seek a buyer for their property at 1171 Penn Ave., Hollsopple, they don’t require the agritourism aspect to continue, though they hope it will.
The $400,000, 44-acre property includes a house, camping area with a bathhouse, a barn with a kitchen, 22 acres of harvestable forest and mineral rights, as well as all equipment and tools to maintain the property.
“We’ve had people come, and they are just overwhelmed,” Philip said.
Mary, 68, and Philip, 81, said they would help new owners learn how to line up events, advertise and contact vendors.
“At this stage of our lives, it is time to let go,” Mary said. “It’s time for us to start doing our bucket list. We had COVID, and I think it was a really great lesson – you can’t guarantee there’s going to be a tomorrow. Being older, that made a really shocking difference.”
The farm has been closed since 2019, due to the pandemic.
‘A great legacy’
When Philip bought the property nearly 30 years ago, it included the house, the barn and a little one-car garage.
Today, there are stone walls, gazebos, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible bathrooms, an outdoor cafe attached to the barn and a camping area with showers.
“Every year, we would add something new,” Philip said.
Tourism 30 years ago wasn’t as well known or widely accepted in the agricultural community as it is today, Mary said.
“There were very few people 30 years ago that thought about it,” she said. “But now it’s an accepted word and quite a few farmers are getting involved with ag-tourism.”
Somerset Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ron Aldom said the Farandas have been strong advocates for tourism in the county.
“They were active members of the Chamber, always exploring new ideas,” he said. “We are sad to see it come to an end. If somebody takes over, they’ve built a great legacy to follow.”
Agritoursism in Somerset includes several barns that have become major event centers, Aldom said.
“Ag-tourism is a growing market, no question,” he said.
Faranda Farm regularly received grants to bring tourism into the county.
“Lots of people who stayed at Seven Springs would come up for a weekend,” Philip Faranda said. “They came from Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and that was very surprising, how many people would come from Seven Springs, find us and come down.”
GO Laurel Highlands, the official destination marketing organization for Somerset County, said the Farandas embodied hospitality.
“Phil and Mary were gifted entrepreneurs and created events and festivals to draw visitors to their beautiful corner of Somerset County,” Go Laurel Highlands Executive director Ann Nemanic said.
“They embodied hospitality and wanted everyone to leave with a smile and warm memory of their time on the farm. The Farandas were wonderful at creating memorable experiences for guests, and we are grateful for their efforts to promote the Laurel Highlands.”
“We look look forward to seeing what the next chapter will be for this remarkable Somerset County property,” Nemanic said.
Russ O’Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @RussellOReilly.