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Bed and breakfast offers guests a taste of farm living

Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Wednesday May 25, 2011
Bed and breakfast offers guests a taste of farm living
VIDEO: Ponderosa Lodge Farm and Bed and Breakfast in Lookout, WV offers a way for people to get back to nature, relax and learn about self sufficiency.
Daily Mail Staff

Craig Cunningham
Intern Rhianna Twomey, 18, of Portland, Maine, leads the way down the stairs to a rabbit hutch at the Ponderosa Lodge Farm Bed and Breakfast in Lookout, Fayette County. Twomey is followed by intern Emily Landis, 25, of Washington, D.C. Another intern, Sydney Cole, 20, of Portland, Maine, awaits the pair at the bottom of the stairs.

LOOKOUT – Guests at the Ponderosa Lodge, Farm and Bed and Breakfast can certainly take advantage of the serene mountain retreat to rest and relax, but the Fayette County lodge offers much more than picturesque vistas.

Guests can peruse the farm, work in the multitude of gardens or even help feed and water animals.

Ken Toney and his wife, Jorene Soto, moved to the lodge from the Washington, D.C., area in May 2005 hoping to find a place where they could escape the hectic pace of city life. And that’s what they found in the hills outside Fayetteville along U.S. 60.

The couple immediately fell in love with the 40-year-old lodge that had previously served as a bed and breakfast as well as a zoo in the 1970s, Toney said. And instead of using the place as a retreat for themselves exclusively, they decided to invite others to enjoy it.

“We bought this place to run as a bed and breakfast,” Toney said. “We always had the goal to turn it into a farm and group retreat.”

They wasted no time in attracting guests who wanted a little taste of what it’s like to live on a working West Virginia farm. The first patrons stayed at the lodge a couple of weeks after the couple arrived.

They rent the entire facility rather than by the room. Organizations such as church groups and corporations often rent the lodge for group retreats as do families wanting to secure the place for reunions, Toney said.

The lodge has 10 bedrooms and can sleep 32. A “great hall” where friends and family can gather is also available in the 10,000-square-foot facility.

A full kitchen is available, Toney said. Guests may do their own cooking or hire the couple to prepare meals.

The lodge has modern amenities such as wireless Internet service and cable television, and a nearby tower provides cell phone service to the area, Toney said. However, guests rarely spend their time hanging around the lodge using their computers or watching television.

That is because there is so much to do outside. The lodge sits on 16 acres of land just off the Midland Trail.

There is a large garden and smaller herb garden on the lodge grounds. Another large garden is about six miles down the road.

There are also fruit trees, strawberry beds and blackberry, raspberry and blueberry bushes. Animals such as goats, cattle and even turkeys can also be found.

“Most people come for the farm,” Toney said. “They want to get back to nature.”

And so far the educational experience offered at the lodge has generated a lot of interest, Toney said.

People staying at the lodge often work in the garden or help Toney take care of the animals, he said. They also like to walk through the woods or just sit on the porch and take in the sights.

“This is a safe place for parents to bring their kids and sit on the porch and watch them look at the animals or walk through the garden,” Toney said. “It’s very relaxing.”

Guests also can learn to garden or can vegetables, Toney said. Produce raised on the farm feeds guests and Toney’s family, he said. The produce is raised organically and the meat served on his table comes from the animals on his land.

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