Farming is an essential industry that has changed enormously over the years, and today agritourism operations can provide farmers with a way to diversify their incomes. These business models are rooted in community ties, by providing access to recreational activities, educational opportunities and entertainment. By looking at these agritourism operations as both income diversification and social capital generators, we can all work together to unlock agricultural income potential while building stronger communities!
Understand What Agritourism Is
For generations, farmers have focused their efforts on providing the world with safe and abundant food sources. Today, many entrepreneurial farmers are expanding their offerings to include agritourism, a practice that helps them diversify their income streams while also deepening community connections by inviting folks to connect with the land and enjoy agricultural experiences. Agritourism can include activities such as farm tours, farm stays, pick-your-own-produce activities, goat yoga, educational experiences, and more.
Agritourism is becoming increasingly popular, as it provides an unique opportunity to learn about sustainable practices and the importance of local food systems. It also gives farmers the chance to share their knowledge and stories with visitors, and to earn additional income.
Honey Down Farm perspective: This is one area we explored and expanded on our farm. In 2021, we started offering goat yoga. This activity allows us to generate additional revenue for the farm, share our farm story with the community, and entertain. I will sprinkle in our personal experience in this blog post, so keep reading to learn more.
Analyze Market Potential
Before getting started with agritourism, it's important to assess the potential of the market. Consider the size of the population in your area, and the type of travelers that are likely to be interested in your offering. Also, take into account the type of activities that you could offer, and the resources that you have available.
It's also important to research the competition in the area. Take a look at other agritourism offerings in the area, and consider how you can differentiate your business. Doing market research will help you understand the potential of the market, and the type of activities that you should offer.
Honey Down Farm perspective: For our farm, we knew we wanted to offer an activity with goats. We did a lot of online research and came across goat yoga. This was not a new activity, but it was not widely done in our area. I knew farms were offering, but the market was not saturated.
Identify the Benefits
There are many benefits to agritourism. For farmers, agritourism can provide an additional source of income, and help to preserve traditional agricultural practices. It's also a great way to connect with the local community and share stories and knowledge.
For visitors, agritourism offers a unique and immersive experience. It's a great way to learn about local food systems, sustainable practices, and the importance of supporting local businesses. It's also a great way to connect with nature and get a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Honey Down Farm perspective: The benefit to our farm was the additional revenue, connecting with local businesses, and sharing our story with the community. At goat yoga sessions we share a little bit about the goats, answer questions, and share our farm practices.
Benefits of Agritourism
There are many benefits to agritourism, both for farmers and visitors. Here are some of the key benefits:
- Additional Source of Income: Agritourism can provide farmers with an additional source of income, which can be used to invest in their business and expand their operations.
- Preservation of Traditional Practices: Agritourism is a great way to preserve traditional agricultural practices, by passing on knowledge and stories to visitors.
- Connecting with the Community: Agritourism provides a great opportunity to connect with the local community and share stories and knowledge.
- Immersive Experience: For visitors, agritourism offers a unique and immersive experience. It's a great way to learn about local food systems, sustainable practices, and the importance of supporting local businesses.
- Connecting with Nature: Agritourism also provides a great opportunity to connect with nature and get a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
When it comes to agritourism, there are a wide range of activities and offerings that you can provide. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Farm Tours: Offer guided tours of your farm, where visitors can learn about your operations and the importance of sustainable farming practices.
- Farm Stays: Offer visitors the chance to stay overnight on your farm, so they can get a true feel for farm life.
- Pick-Your-Own-Produce: Offer visitors the chance to pick their own produce, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Educational Experiences: Offer educational experiences such as classes or workshops on sustainable practices and food systems.
- Special Events: Host special events such as festivals, dinners, or goat yoga
- Farmer's Markets: Offer visitors the chance to purchase produce, preserves, and other products from your farm.
- Farm-to-Table Dinners: Host farm-to-table dinners, where visitors can enjoy a meal made with ingredients from your farm.
Honey Down Farm perspective: You'll notice this list includes tourism on your farm. For us, that was not feasible. When we wanted to start down this path we reached out to our insurance. Having goat yoga on our farm required an additional policy. It was based on number of attendees, revenue, and time period. The quote was around $500 for two months of events. At that point, we decided to partner with organizations to offer events at their location. This allowed us to meet insurance requirements and not incur additional costs.
Consider Challenges to Agritourism
While agritourism is a great way to increase revenue and visibility for farmers, it also comes with some challenges. It's important to consider the challenges before getting started with agritourism.
- Resources: Agritourism requires additional resources, such as personnel and equipment. It's important to assess the resources that you have available, and to make sure that you have enough to meet the demands of the visitors.
- Regulations and Permits: Agritourism is regulated by state and local governments, so it's important to research the regulations and permits that you will need to get started.
- Insurance Requirements: Agritourism activities require additional insurance, so it's important to make sure that you are properly covered.
- Safety and Liability: Agritourism activities can involve some risks, so it's important to make sure that you take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of your visitors.
- Marketing Your Business: Agritourism requires additional marketing efforts, to make sure that your business is visible to potential customers.
Honey Down Farm perspective: Our biggest challenge was insurance. We carry the necessary farm policy and umbrella, but having the public on our farm required and additional policy. I listed out some other challenges that impacted us, but not to the extreme of the insurance issue.
Research Regulation and Permitting Options
Before getting started with agritourism, it's important to research the regulations and permits that you will need. Regulations and permits vary by state and local governments, so it's important to research the requirements in your area. You should also check with your local zoning board to make sure that your business is in compliance with local regulations.
Honey Down Farm perspective: This is an area we work through based on each location. We've been fortunate that the locations have not required an additional permits.
Plan for Insurance Requirements
Agritourism activities require additional insurance, so it's important to make sure that you are properly covered. You should contact your insurance provider to discuss the insurance requirements for your business. You should also research any additional insurance that you may need, such as workers' compensation and liability insurance.
Honey Down Farm perspective: This was a huge hurdle for us. Instead of trying to solve the issue we decided to go around it. The downfall is we need to transport goats, but it also allows us to offer the activity in various communities expanding our reach.
Marketing Your Business
Once you have planned for the regulations, permits, and insurance requirements, you can start marketing your business. Agritourism requires additional marketing efforts, to make sure that your business is visible to potential customers. You should consider developing a website, as well as utilizing social media and other digital marketing techniques. You should also consider partnering with local businesses, to help increase visibility and reach.
Honey Down Farm perspective: Even with an amazing idea you need to promote. I would consider our marketing efforts grassroots. We would hand out paper fliers, post on community event directories, and share out on social. Each effort helped us to fill classes. It definitely would not have worked with the build it and they will come mentality.
Agritourism is an innovative and creative way to combine traditional agricultural practices with tourism to increase revenue and visibility for farmers. It offers a wide range of benefits, both for farmers and visitors, and can provide a unique and immersive experience.
Before getting started with agritourism, it's important to assess the potential of the market, research the regulations and permits that you will need, and plan for insurance requirements. It's also important to consider the challenges of agritourism, and to make sure that you are properly prepared. Lastly, it's important to market your business, to make sure that your business is visible to potential customers.
Get started with Agritourism today and take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer! If you'd like to learn more about our efforts or share an idea, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.