There’s something uniquely gratifying about waking up on a misty morning to a rooster’s crow, tumbling out of bed, slipping on some rubber boots, and heading down to the barn to feed pigs, milk a cow, and collect eggs. An hour later, as you pour thick, fresh milk into a cup of local coffee and dig into your scrambled eggs and mangoes from the tree down the road, you realize it would be very difficult to feel any closer to your food.

I shop at the local farmer’s market and I always look for “locally-grown” produce at the supermarket, yet I can’t say that I’ve ever felt a particular connection to the food we eat. Ironically, my family and I felt that connection for the first time 2,000 miles from home.

We spent nearly a week with good friends at Leaves and Lizards, a remote hotel near Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano. The accommodations were incredible, the food delectable and the views of the volcano to die for.  But the best part of our stay for all four kids (ages four to eleven) was helping on the farm and riding the horses they helped care for.

Farm-to-table vacations are a great option for active families, especially when your children are far apart in age. Our Costa Rican farm held the same fascination for four-year-old Jeremy as it did for Jacques (age 9), Julian (11) and our friend Jude (10). Jeremy’s greatest moment was when one of the farmhands took him down to the field in an ATV and let him help with hay collection. Julian, Jacques, and Jude went on an incredible half-day horse ride through a rain forest with the horses we had befriended while feeding them in the barn that morning. And my husband discovered he had a unique gift for cow milking.