15 Insider Tips about the Harvest Hosts Program from a Super Host


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If you’re an RV enthusiast looking for unique and memorable places to stay on your North America travels, you might consider the Harvest Hosts membership program. As a seasoned Harvest Host RV camping location that’s been hosting campers on our hobby farm since 2019, we’re here to spill the beans on everything we think harvest hosts members need to know. We’ll also let you know specifics about staying at our host site – a hobby farm in Eastern Iowa.

camping on a farm with harvest host

15 Insider Tips about the Harvest Hosts Program from a Super Host

1. What is the Harvest Hosts Program?

At its core, Harvest Hosts is a membership program that connects RV travelers with one-of-a-kind, picturesque locations to park their rigs overnight. These locations span the United States, Canada, and Baja California and often include wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and more. With more than 4500 sites to choose from, you’ll find so many great places to stay on your RV trip route!

Harvest Hosts is a great way to travel off the beaten path, find unique overnight dry camping accommodations, and support local small businesses. It opens the door to many unique experiences as you travel across North America. I can’t tell you how much camping at a Harvest Host location beats Walmart parking.

sunset over bean field

2. How does the Harvest Hosts Program work?

For a yearly fee of less than $100, you’re instantly connected to more than 4,500 hosts through the Harvest Hosts mobile app. This app has changed a lot in the years we’ve been a harvest host site. While you used to have to call to make a reservation, now you can request a spot right from the app. It’s super simple and has made the Harvest Host reservation process so easy. 

3. How Far in Advance Can you Reserve a Harvest Host Spot

One big weakness of the Harvest Hosts program was the old reservation system which required a phone call and little advance planning. However that has changed in the last two years. We’re big fans of the online Request-A-Stay system!

At our farm, we take online reservation requests almost any time, sometimes even the very day campers want to stay. We understand schedules change and don’t begrudge last-minute reservations as long as we have space.

Some campers reserve a spot only a couple of days out, and others reserve months in advance. The ease of the app has really changed the whole experience for the better, in our opinion.

heart made out of eggs and peacock feathers

4. What Type of RV Do You Need for Harvest Hosts Program

To enjoy the Harvest Hosts program, you need to be self-contained and tents are not allowed. That means you should have a camper, travel trailer, or RV with its own bathroom facilities, kitchen, and power source. Hosts are not obligated to provide hookups so you need to be ready with everything you need for an amazing dry camping experience. 

That said, on our farm, we do have electricity and water hook-ups guests can use. We ask campers to specify what type of hook-up they prefer when making their reservation. We have both 30-amp and 50-amp hookups available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. All we ask is that campers please compensate us for this use as it is an extra bonus we are not required to offer to RVers.

*If you decide to use our hookups, please help us by making a monetary donation to offset our cost Remember, Harvest Hosts recommends spending at least $30 at every stop.*

kune kune piglets

5. Is it really free to camp when you join Harvest Hosts?

The Harvest Hosts program is billed as a way to get free campsites; however, that’s not really how the program works. In exchange for overnight stays, RVers are supposed to support their hosts during their stay. Host locations are not compensated in any way from the Harvest Host program so any compensation we receive from YOU is all we get.  

There are different ways to support host sites. Some are pretty easy – buy bottles of wine when you stay at a winery for instance. Some sites have farm stores you can peruse. Other sites offer tours or unique farm experiences like goat milking or alpaca petting. Harvest Hosts recommends spending at least $30 at your host camping site. If they don’t have anything for you to buy, cash works too. 🙂

harvest host camping on a farm

6. Can You Stay for Multiple Nights at Harvest Host Sites

The Harvest Hosts program does not allow members to request staying at the same location for multiple nights and doing so can result in revocation of your membership. However, we have invited some guests to stay longer due to unforeseen circumstances or RV problems. It’s generally not a big deal to us if members stay more than one night.

We have lots of repeat campers too! We’ve had RVers stay with us on their way out and also on their way home. We’ve also seen some of the same RVers several years in a row. It’s always fun to see people more than once!

7. Harvest Host Camping on our Farm in Iowa

If you’d like to request a stay at our hobby farm, here’s what you need to know about us. Located in Eastern Iowa just south of I-80, our hobby farm is home to our family of six and our construction company Oak Tree Homes. We can accommodate RVs of any size but be prepared to back up – we do not have a drive-through lane.

Here at the Oak Tree Homes farm we have a large garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, an apiary, and a motley collection of farm animals including sheep, goats, kune kune pigs, Great Pyrenees dogs, cats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, guineas, and peacocks.

We also have use-at-your-own-risk unnetted trampolines, zipline, hammock, swing sets, and more kids are welcome to use with parental approval.

Our sunrises, sunsets, country stars, and fireflies are the best and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

sky on fire

8. How we became Harvest Hosts

A lot of people ask us how we came to be a Harvest Host, so here’s the short version. Dear friends came to visit in 2019 on a big RV camping trip across the US. Having just completed their first Harvest Host stay before they got to our hobby farm, they told us we would be perfect Harvest Hosts.

A fun night of bonfires, driveway drinking, and 4th of July celebrating followed and we found ourselves on the list. We started getting calls almost the very next day. Ironically, we didn’t think anyone would want to stay here, but turns out we have a very handy location, just a few miles off of I-80.

As life-long travel addicts ourselves, we know there is great value in stepping into a local community and meeting the people who call it home. We enjoy meeting new people and sharing our Eastern Iowa hobby farm in the middle of nowhere surrounded by corn and bean fields. 

dirt road to our harvest host location

9. Some things to consider before staying with us

We are located on a gravel road. If you approach our farm from the east, the road is well maintained. However, if you approach from the west, it is the road you see in the picture above. It can be muddy, full of ruts, and sometimes it’s downright impassible. Whichever way you get to us, you rig will get dusty. If you don’t like that idea, we might not be the right fit.

We have directions for the safe way to get to us on our Harvest Hosts profile on the app. Our road can also be impassable during bad weather, so make sure you go through Wilton to get to us, because your GPS will 100% send you the wrong way. We’ve seen the towing bills – you don’t want that.

Another concern can be our animals. The birds can be quite loud and our dogs sometimes bark all night to protect them. Our rooster Cock-a-Doodle-Drew is happy to give you a wake-up call at the crack of dawn. And he’ll also continue to serenade you all day long.

Sometimes you can hear the trains and the traffic from I-80, but for the most part the animals and kids make the most noise around here.

Finally, we also have busy working bees – something to consider if you are allergic.

American Gothic House

10. How to compensate us when you camp with us on our hobby farm

A lot of people who camp on our farm ask how they can support us since we are not a typical Harvest Host. We’re just a hobby farm growing food primarily for our own consumption. We’re not a working farm, winery, or brewery. While we would be happy to build you a new home or remodel your RV, we realize that’s not a good fit for most people on vacation driving across the country. 😉

Here are ways you can support us here at Oak Tree Homes. Depending on availability, we offer:

Harvest Hosts suggests spending $30 at a minimum when you visit each location. We appreciate your patronage and put proceeds in our own travel fund.

11. Respect host rules

There are no set rules that apply across the board to all harvest host locations. Each host has their own specific rules. Sometimes, they’ll need you to adhere to arrival times or exit times. Sometimes, hosts can’t allow pets. 

At our hobby farm, for instance, we haven’t been able to allow dogs. It’s not that we don’t like dogs, it’s just that we have free-range animals and other dogs that don’t get along with newcomers. It’s really disrespectful to ignore a host’s rules so be sure to read each location’s rules and follow them. Your hosts will thank you. 

devil's punchbowl wildcat den state park
Devil’s Punchbowl at Wildcat Den State Park

12. Explore the area

Harvest Hosts locations are often situated in scenic areas. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore and enjoy the surroundings. If you aren’t sure what to do, make sure to ask your host what they recommend!

Some places we recommend seeing while you’re in Iowa:

Our nearby towns of Wilton and Muscatine

World’s Largest Truck Stop & I-80 Trucking Museum

Wildcat Den Iowa State Park

crowing rooster

13. Leave no trace

Practice eco-friendly living by respecting the environment and leaving your host’s property as you found it. Especially at our farm, don’t leave your shoes outside your RV if you aren’t prepared for them to disappear. 

14. How to get the most of your Harvest Host membership

It really doesn’t take many harvest host stays to get your membership investment back, but there are a few ways you can get the most out of your membership. Research and plan your route in advance. Identify Harvest Host locations along your path and make reservations early where necessary, especially at popular sites.

Explore the diversity of host locations available. There are so many unique places to explore! Try a mix of farms, breweries, museums, and more when you’re on the RV trail.

If you’re not a member, get 15% off the price using our referral link! You’ll get instant access to more than 4,000 camping spots across the US!

15. Get to know your host! 

We love to answer your questions, show you around, and get to know you. Please understand that we are a working business and don’t always have time to chit-chat for long during business hours. We also have construction workers / vehicles staging from our barn, so there can be a fair amount of traffic.

Finally, we ask that your kids not enter any buildings without permission. It’s not normally a problem, but we have had overly-excited children in places they should not be.

Thank you for getting to know a little bit about Oak Tree Homes and Eastern Iowa. Feel free to tag Michelle on social media posts. You’ll find her most often on facebook or instagram

In summary, we think the Harvest Hosts program offers a fantastic way for RVers to experience a wide range of unique and memorable overnight stays. By following these insider tips and understanding how the program works, you can embark on an eco-friendly adventure that supports local businesses and leaves you with lasting memories of your RV travels.

Harvest Host ad with van camper

Looking for some things to do as you drive across Iowa? Here you go!

Visiting the Bridges of Madison County in Winterset, Iowa

American Gothic House Visitor’s Center in Eldon, Iowa

Art, History, Culture & Food in Dubuque, Iowa

A Day of Fun at Tulip Time Flower Festival in Pella, Iowa

Ready to travel? Use these helpful links to book your stay!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. Looking forward to seeing Oak tree farms in person, and meeting you and Dan on our trip to Fonda, Iowa in September.
    Can you accommodate a 40’ Rv with truck in tow? Would it be possible just to hook up to electric for the night?

  2. Oh man! We are the Reflection 5th wheel that stayed with you last night. I wish I had found this page before our stay or I would have loved to have bought some honey, yum! I didn’t realize you had products for sale. Hopefully we can stay again next time we are nearby and we’ll grab some honey and maybe even request some of the bread 🙂 Thanks for being hosts, we enjoyed our stay. The kids LOVED meeting all of the animals and of course the ninja course. While we didn’t end up plugging in to electric, we love that there was that option, something that most HH do not have.

  3. Looking forward to our stay in June! Will have to remember to ask if you would be able to bake some of the bread and I hope there will be eggs!

  4. Our first Harvest Host stay! Dan and Michelle were very welcoming and easygoing to us RV newbies. Enjoyed all the animals. Farm fresh eggs and toast on our menu, now!

  5. Thank you for let us stay yesterday without reservation.It was fantastic with the lightning and your plate is so nice and quiet.We spend a very good night and we left something in your little box.
    Louis and France 🥂