BOISE, Idaho -- For one night a year, a neighborhood farm in northwest Boise turns into a respite for singles who are tired of the same old dating scene.
A poster board planted at the entrance of Earthly Delights Farm in late June advertised "Weed Dating," with a heart-stamped arrow guiding visitors to a sign-in table, where they were each assigned a number and invited to sample beer provided by a local brewer.
The farm is among a handful across the country offering an unconventional form of speed dating. Typically, speed daters meet at a bar or restaurant and switch conversational partners every few minutes, in hopes of finding someone compatible. With weed dating, this rapid-fire courtship takes place on the farm, with singles working together in the fields. The payoff for their toil? A chance at romance.
Casey O'Leary, 33, owns the Earthly Delights Farm and first heard of the idea from a farm in Vermont. Farms in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio have also advertised weed dating events. Ms. O'Leary organized her first last year for about 20 people, including some friends. More than 40 men and women showed up this year.
In her role as matchmaker, Ms. O'Leary shook a small tambourine to catch everyone's attention and reassured those who had already started to eye each other that everybody would be paired up with everybody over the course of the evening.
She told them how it works: Each of the ladies will be assigned to a specific row, with more instructions to follow after "we get you into the beds," a remark prompting nervous snickers that erupted into laughter as the tension eased. The women were given a crash course in how to identify a weed and then instructed to pass that information along to the men, who rotated from each bed every three minutes.
With the dating in full swing, Ms. O'Leary moved between the neat rows of lettuce, strawberries, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. She said she likes the idea of helping gardeners and people with similar interests find each other. But seeing people weed her farm is also nice.
Amy Johnson, 29, a Spanish elementary school teacher, first heard about the event last year. "I'm not much into dating, like speed dating or like, online dating. But it's always fun to meet new people," she said.
Brian Cox, 47, an artist and musician, came looking for a new way to meet people.
"The typical speed dating, it's just kind of awkward," he said. "But this is just beautiful, because it's like outside, it's very organic. Literally."