Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism
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Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism

Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism

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Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism Document Transcript

  • ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM BUSINESS MANAGEMENT GUIDENational Sustainable Agriculture Information Service www.attra.ncat.org Abstract: Agri-entertainment and -tourism—new, highly consumer-focused types of agriculture—may offer addi- tional options for diversification and adding stability to farm incomes. Farmers have invented a wide variety of “entertainment farming” options.By Katherine L. AdamNCAT Agriculture SpecialistSeptember 2004©NCAT 2004 Table of Contents Introduction.........................2 Things to See .......................2 Things to Do ....................... 5 Things to Buy ..................... 8 References ........................ 12 Resources.......................... 13 Appendix A ........................ 15 Appendix B ........................16El Rancho Nido de las Golondrinas, Lemitar, NMLiving History Farm Herb GardenPhoto by K. Adam Diversification into … such opportunities as agricultural or educational tours, u-pick operations, farm stores, pumpkin patches, agricultural festivals, and farm stands is not a substitute for a pro family farm agenda.… [However,] one of my fears is that if farmers and ranchers are too tardy in their response to this emerging opportunity, theme park operators will develop simulated farms and operate them as agri-tourism attractions. —Desmond Jolly, Director Small Farm Program University of California—Davis ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information service operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, through a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. These organizations do not recommend or endorse products, companies, or individuals. NCAT has offices in Fayetteville, Arkansas (P.O. Box 3657, Fayetteville, AR 72702), Butte, Montana, and Davis, California.
  • Introduction of money to be made selling to visitors. Research shows that tourists buy mainly food, beverages, and souvenirs.(2)Joel Salatin, innovator in small-scale agricultureand proprietor of Polyface Farm in Virginia, haspublished a handbook for beginning farmers.(1) In it he offers a perspective on an important Advice for New Ag Entrepreneursdimension of the future of American farm-ing—education and entertainment. At least one Starting any new enterprise can be risky.state—Vermont—has re-directed the bulk of its Before investing money, time, and energysupport for agriculture into rural tourism. Salatin in an unconventional agricultural busi-and other agricultural writers believe that this is ness, new entrepreneurs should completewhat the public wants and will pay for. personal, market, project feasibility, and financial evaluations. Workbooks are avail-While the popularity of specific enterprises—such able to help work through the questions thatas pumpkin patches or U-Pick orchards—may arise in enterprise planning. Technical andebb and flow, the public’s desire for a “farm ex- managerial assistance in these evaluationsperience” remains. Small diversified farms are is available from a wide variety of sources.ideally suited to agri-entertainment. Unlike the These include county Extension educators,mega-hog facility or a corn/soybean operation local and regional organizations committedproducing bulk commodities, the small farm can to rural economic development, small busi-recreate an earlier, simpler, human-scale vision ness development centers, state departmentsof farming. The chief qualification for the rural of agriculture, economic development agen-landowner who expects to make a living from the cies, banks, tourism agencies, state univer-land through agri-tourism is the desire and the sities, and local community colleges. For aability to cater to tourists and meet their expecta- brief agri-tourism development checklist,tions of a farm visit. see Appendix A. A business plan can then be developed (basically a spreadsheet) toTourism is an important industry in many states. evaluate the enterprise financially. ForFor example, it is the second largest industry in guidelines, see the 2004 ATTRA publicationNew York and the largest in Arkansas. Most Agricultural Business Planning Templates andwriters agree on three main components of rural Resources.tourism: small businesses, agricultural events,and regional promotion. Some state agri-tourismpromoters lump direct-marketing methods suchas CSAs, as well as farm sales of such specialty Things to Seecrops as flowers, garlic, and Asian pears, withinthe general category of agri-tourism. State-led Educational toursagri-tourism initiatives work to expand exist-ing businesses, create new festivals and farmmarkets, and tie this all together regionally to In 1993, 14 farmers in largely agriculturalattract visitors. Federal, state, and corporate Dutchess County, New York, cooperated in cre-grants funded the 500-mile Seaway Trail along ating an educational tour using “crop art” as theLake Ontario in New York, providing advertis- focal point. Their aim was to publicize the plighting and promotion of its agri-tourism enterprises of the family farmer and create a positive image ofalong the way. agriculture for the next generation of urban voters and consumers. The art consisted of large sculp-There are three agri-tourism basics: Have some- tures made from hay bales and other farm crops.thing for visitors to see, something for them to do, (Different types of crop art will be discussed inand something for them to buy. How well you more detail below.) One of the tour’s sponsors,relate the various components (through a theme Farm Again, is an organization that matches be-or otherwise) will determine how successful your ginning farmers with retiring farmers to ensureentertainment enterprise will be. Things to see that land is kept in family-sized agriculturaland do are often offered free, but there is still a lot production. Others involved in sponsoring thePAGE 2 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • project included Cornell Cooperative Extension, A unique Iowa “little village”the local Farm Bureau, and the Dutchess Countytourism agency. A unique form of agri-entertainment is the “little village” run by Farn and Varlen CarlsonAt the same time, Farm Again sponsored a farm of Stanhope, Iowa. The tiny community includestour project for school children as part of its aim a school, general store, church, livery stable, andto “re-invent agriculture” in a farming commu- blacksmithy. Appropriate artifacts fill the build-nity on the edge of suburban sprawl.(3) This ings, which are one-half to two-thirds scale. Thetype of tour is part of an overall regional public Carlsons hope to add a barber shop, telephoneeducation strategy, exemplifying comprehensive office, bandstand, and fire station. There is anorganization and far-reaching goals. At the other admission charge for viewing all the build-end of the scale, the Wachlin farm (“Grandma’s ings, and the Carlsons cater to bus tour groups.Place”), Sherwood, Oregon, provides a pack- Groups can also arrange to have barbecues at theage deal for its specialty— school tours. They village. Special events scheduled during the yearcharge $4 per child, and the children get any size include a threshing bee, an ice cream social onpumpkin they can carry from the field, food for Father’s Day, Apple Cider Days in August, andanimals in the petting zoo, and a 20-minute talk a Christmas Stroll, when the Village is decoratedon farming.(4) for the season.(5)While having several tour farms in close proxim-ity is always desirable, most farmers interested Processing demonstrationsin agri-tourism develop individualistic farm at-tractions. Many herb farms open to the public in- Wineries and microbreweries have long appealedclude a tour of the different herbs they are grow- to the public’s fascination with how foods anding, and may include “nature walks” to show beverages are made. Other possibilities arewild plants in their native habitat—riverbank water-powered grist milling, sorghum milling,vegetation, scarce examples of native prairie, apple butter making, cider pressing, maplerock outcroppings, or natural woods. (Former sugaring, sheep shearing, wool processing—pasture land or plowed ground let go to weeds all activities with an old-timey flavor.is not recommended for a nature walk.) For aprofile of an herb farm that offers tours, see the A rural theme parkATTRA publication Lavender Production, Products,Markets, and Entertainment Farms. Smiling Hills Farm, Westport, Maine, con- verted from a dairy farm into an agri-tour-Archeological sites are usually too fragile to ism business in the 1980s. The farm nowbecome the focus of regular tours by the public. draws 100,000 people a year and employsHowever, many farms have done well with re- 100. Attractions include ice cream and sand-creations of former eras. wich sales, a petting zoo, a retreat center specializing in one-day mini-retreats, and activities for the 700 school children perHistorical re-creations day that may visit. Kids can climb in, on, and over a wooden train, a fire truck, andCreating an agri-tourism attraction on your farm a small barn with a loft and places for cutecan be a lot of work and must be a labor of love. photo opportunities. They can dig sand withSome attractions grow out of the owners’ hobby kid-powered backhoes and steam shovels.collections—old farm machinery, log buildings, Children mingle with animals in the pettingheirloom seeds, old bird houses, even a narrow- barn area. Ducks and rabbits have the run ofgauge railroad. Most, however, are created new their own doll-house-like “Duck House” andfrom the owner’s concept—especially one that “Rabbit House.” Group activities includeappeals to children. tours, birthday parties, summer farm pro- grams, wagon and sleigh rides, Halloween and maple season events, and cross-country skiing and skating in the winter. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 3
  • Crop art Visitors expect to pay admission to farm attrac- tions—even to view (and photograph) crop art. Maze operators generally charge admission.Invite a crop artist to turn one of your cornfields Joel Salatin advises farmers to build a haybaleinto a work of art. It will be the talk of the coun- observation deck with a view of the maze, sotryside and may attract national media atten- that grandparents can take photos. Sales of food,tion (especially if an actor dressed in a pale blue beverages, and photographic supplies can takewetsuit with antennae on his head runs around place here. Charge for some things, and giveand periodically pops up at unexpected times something away free. “While no one is certainnear the artwork). The crop art displayed by the that providing some activities free of charge im-fourteen Dutchess County, New York, farmers proves the net return to the farm, they undoubt-attracted thousands of visitors, including 1,000 edly increase the farmer’s gross receipts throughschool children, a month. Additional people came increased customer traffic.”(7)to their summer on-farm educational programsintended to strengthen urban ties to agriculture.Many farms that encourage school tours aim to Natural featuresbuild goodwill and long-term customers, ratherthan charging for the tours.(6) An outstanding natural feature on a farm may become a tourist attraction—a bluff or rockCrop art runs the gamut from the fanciful sculp- outcropping, a waterfall, a grove of persimmontures of Dutchess County to floral designs, from trees, a stream, or a spectacular view. Water isdesigns mowed in a field to Halloween pumpkin a popular natural attraction; sometimes naturaldisplays like those seen on the Rohrbach Farm features of interest to a visitor may have beennear St. Louis. Most crop art—at least in the overlooked by the farmer.Midwest—consists of designs cut into standinggrain crops in a field, or alternatively, designscreated by different colored plantings. Suchcrop art is best viewed from the air or from araised structure. There have also been propos-als for creating mound-like structures with Na-tive American designs outlined in edible nativeplants, and there are agricultural mazes—whichprovide something to do as well as see. Thereare a number of full-time professional crop art-ists advertising on the Worldwide Web, as wellas maze designers and franchisers. (Mazes arediscussed more fully below.)Madera County, California, farmer DarrenSchmall originated the “Pizza Farm” concept,a subspecies of crop art. One field is devotedto a circular arrangement of crops and animals.Pie-shaped wedges of pepper plants, wheat, to-matoes, and so on represent pizza ingredients.Several sections house hogs and cattle (represent-ing sausage and cheese). This is reportedly one ©2004Clipart.comof the fastest-growing types of crop art. Childrenuse a coin-operated feed pellet machine to feedthe animals.PAGE 4 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • Festivals/ living for the devel- opmentally disabled.pageants/ Children’s Activities for a Harvest Festival Many small herb orspecial events vegetable farms of- • Vegetable Contest (from children’s fer classes in cooking,Special events can mean gardens) arranging flowers, oreither private parties or • Vegetable Bingo (cards with names making herbal medi-public events. They range and/or pictures; veggie seed prize) cines. They dependfrom offering food, drink, • Flower Smashing (using rubber on these activities toand overnight accommo- mallets to flatten flowers between help build a clienteledations to sportsmen to thick sheets of paper, making nice, for their main prod-birthday parties, wed- flower-patterned cards) ucts.dings, company picnics, • Vegetable Shape Mobiles (sticks andand Halloween festivals. cutouts from old office paper) Farms have tradition-To put on an annual festi- • Ecopots (newspapers made into little ally offered field days,val or pageant open to the pots for planting seeds) sometimes sponsoredpublic may be beyond the • Chia Pets (paint faces on old footie by a farm organiza-scope of all but the larg- stockings filled with soil and grass seed) tion. Many tours areest farm entertainment • Potato Prints (tried and true) also considered edu-businesses. Individual • Making Recycled Paper (need blender, cational.farms often participate in water, flat strainers)a countywide or regional • Hair Wreaths (raffia, flowers, ribbon) Some of the best ex-festival, with significant • Bookmarks (tried and true—wax amples of farm di-government and organi- paper, flowers, and an iron.) versification involvezational sponsorship. A • Root/Stem/Bud/Seed (kids have cards education. Two of thefew farms are now hosting with words and must match to most notable are The700 to 1,000 visitors per appropriate produce after brief lesson) Land Institute (whichday for their unique of- • Seed Sprouts in Baggies (soaked has just received aferings. Farms along the bean seeds, paper towels, baggies) grant to launch a 50-road to well-known annual • Leaf Prints (leaves, crayons, paper) year research projectfestivals can find many on perennial grains)ways to participate in op- (from Karen Guz, Horticulture Associate, Bexar and Heritage Farm, County, Arizona, listserve: communitygardening@ag.portunities created by the home of the Seed Sav- arizona.edu, 6/25/98)increased tourist traffic. ers Exchange and Seed Saver publications. Launching such an en- terprise takes considerable connections, savvy, outside-the-box thinking, and dedication. It is aThings to Do life’s work dedicated to something beyond just farming, and is certainly not for everyone.Farm schools/workshops/ Many of the farms listed in the on-line database of Sustainable Farming Internships and Appren-educational activities ticeships, maintained by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (www.attra.ncat.org),The educational activities offered on farms range have elements of an educational or entertainmentfrom day classes or short-term workshops to full- farm. Several plantations on the Potomac River,scale, accredited courses of study. Farm schools including Mt. Vernon, have been turned intoaccommodate interns or apprentices, and some educational farms. The workers on Mt. Vernoncharge tuition for the learning opportunity. There grow 18th-Century crops and gardens, use 18th-are also farm schools geared toward residential Century tools, and dress in period costumes. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 5
  • Accommodations for outdoor Pick-Your-Own (U-Pick)sports enthusiasts In the 1970s U-pick farms were at their height ofSome farms adjacent to recreational areas build popularity. Families with three or four hungrya business catering to the needs of visitors to teenagers and full-time homemakers were stillthose areas. A farmer in Missouri opened a lunch common. Canning a couple of bushels of greencounter for the convenience of parents bringing beans or putting a flat of strawberries in the freez-children to a nearby summer camp. Farmers in er helped out the family budget significantly.the Adirondacks regularly accommodate skiiers Raw materials were harder to come by than labor,and hikers with shade, food, and drink, some- compared with today. Canning has been all buttimes extending to overnight accommodations. A eliminated today as a home activity because it1500-acre wheat farm on the Great Plains became represents a lost opportunity for the housewifea pheasant hunting ranch in the off-season, with to be gainfully employed, instead of receivinga lodge and a gift shop (more about fee hunting nothing for her hard work (i.e., the opportunitybelow). cost of labor) putting up the winter food supply. Small batches of gourmet recipes may be stored in the family freezer, but more than 50% of U.S.Petting zoos/children’s meals are now commercially prepared and eatenamusements/playgrounds/ away from home. While U-pick operations canhorseback riding/hayrides still be found, successful ones are most likely to be part of the whole entertainment-farm enter- prise mix.Old McDonald’s Children’s Village, Sacket’s Har-bor, is the largest petting farm in New York. Near U-pick offers several advantages to farmers. TheyWatertown, on the Seaway Trail, the Children’s are relieved of the burden of finding and payingVillage was started as a way to increase cash flow temporary seasonal labor at harvest time. Thisto expand a market hog and feeder pig business. type of labor is becoming harder and harder toPonies, rabbits, ducks, lambs, baby goats, calves, find. The hours are long and hot; the work, back-and piglets are sure-fire attractions for city chil- breaking. If people can be persuaded to pick asdren (and their parents). Pony and wagon rides entertainment and get a few cents off per unit,are part of the mix. Playgrounds and hayrides the farmer is way ahead. However, sustainablealso provide something for children to do at Pick- farmer Kelly Klober has observed, “The wholeYour-Own farms. premise of ‘here we are/come out and get dirty picking our crops/then pay us handsomely forBalky Farms in Northfield, Massachusetts, invites the privilege’ is a hard sell” (8) in today’s worldschool classes to visit during lambing season in and may depend on how attractively the experi-March and April. Baby crias, pygmy goats, and ence can be packaged and how aggressively it isbunnies are also winners. Cheviot, Dorset, and marketed. Above all, the average farmer’s natu-Navajo Churro sheep, geese, peacocks, emus, ral distaste for selling must be overcome and heoxen, Black Angus cattle, relief heifers, minia- must learn to think like a customer. This means,ture horses, and donkeys succeed with the more at a minimum, creating adequate parking, hav-venturesome. Tendercrop Farm in Newbury ing restrooms, having a safe entertainment areaoffers “buffalo viewing,” while Valley View in for small children, and working with an insurerCharlemont hosts llama-picnic treks. More infor- on liability issues. Small children are best keptmation on animal entertainment can be found in away from the picking area, as they contributethe 2004 NRCS publication Success Stories—Agri- disproportionately to damaged crops and “in-tourism, Direct Marketing, Education, Conservation, ventory shrinkage.” Attention to these basicsAgritainment. (Call 1-888-LANDSCAPE or see will help build repeat sales, a primary goal of allwww.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/RESS/econ/ressd.htm.) direct marketing.PAGE 6 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • in which the pumpkin plays a significant role. Pumpkins are easy to grow, readily available, Related ATTRA Publications large, and colorful. Invite busloads of school children to visit your farm. • Direct Marketing • Lavender Production, Products, Markets, Following the disastrous Missouri/Mississippi and Entertainment Farms River flood in 1993, the Rohrbach Farm, 50 miles • Reap New Profits: Marketing Strategies from St. Louis, turned a significant portion of for Farmers and Ranchers (with SAN) corn/soybean acreage into an entertainment farm • Agricultural Business Planning featuring pumpkins. One field became a park- Templates and Resources ing lot, with ample room for tour buses. When visitors come (by busloads) to view the large, attractive, free crop-art displays constructed byU-pick operations do best when they are located the Rohrbach clan, few leave without buying awithin an hour’s drive of a population center of pumpkin or something from the farm store.at least 50,000 people. This stipulation leaves outmuch of the Midwest, mountain states, eastern The pumpkins are, of course, not pumpkins ofKentucky, and parts of the Deep South. U-pick eating quality. Those pumpkins remaining afteris about selling to families who do not have the the season is over are taken out into the woodsspace to grow their own seasonal vegetables in to compost. One lesson the modern farmerquantities sufficient for canning and freezing. learns, according to Joel Salatin, is that you haveThe mix of vegetables and fruits will depend to accept a certain amount of waste and have toon customers’ tastes (constantly becoming more give something away free at times. (For a moresophisticated), rather than on what can most eas- complete account of activities at the Rohrbachily be grown. Like other forms of entertainment Farm, see the ATTRA publication Direct Market-farming, U-Pick will be adversely affected by any ing and the Winter 1999 issue of USDA’s Smalldramatic rise in the price of gasoline. Farm News).Themes for Mazesentertainment farming Mazes are another option. In 1993 Don FrantzMost entertainment farming depends in large (a former Disney producer) created a 3.3-acrepart on attracting visitors from urban centers. dinosaur maze in a Pennsylvania cornfield, andYour neighbors in all likelihood won’t be your later created the American Maze Company, nowcustomers. Something about your farm must producing increasingly elaborate mazes aroundbe so distinctive that it draws people from long the country and advertising on the Internet. Thedistances—even Canada or Europe. Perhaps you success of this farm entertainment venture has in-could invite a Native American group to hold spired a number of competitors throughout theregular pow-wows on your land; you operate American Cornbelt. Frantz says, “We try to keepthe food concession and give tours of your farm them entertained for about two hours (aboutdressed in a pioneer costume. Hold a summer the length of a movie), and charge them aboutfestival. Add a historical garden to increase the what they’d pay for a movie.” He recommendsdraw. Add a gift shop, an antique shop, a lunch good crowd control, ample restroom facilities,counter, crafts, botanical products. Add a herd refreshments, and other farm products to sell.of buffalo. People will come from Europe to see Most important is an integrated marketing plan,a herd of buffalo or prehistoric White Park cattle which the top maze designers now all sell as partwhen they won’t cross the road to see your prized of their design packages.Black Angus. Have a widely publicized farmfestival—harvest festivals with music and plenty The Jamberry Farm, Madill, Oklahoma, featuresof good food and drink, and maybe face painting a 3-acre maze, funded in part by a grant from theand personalized cupcakes. In the fall, public Kerr Center in Poteau, Oklahoma. Visitors pay $5schools emphasize the American fall holidays, to walk through the maze and the farm’s 5-acre //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 7
  • ©2004Clipart.com Maze puts Colorado farmer in the black A cornfield “Bronco” maze has put the Glen Fritzler 350-acre vegetable farm in the black for the first time in 10 years. Busloads of school-children and tourists pay $6 each to walk through the maze, created by Utah designer Brett Herbst’s patented process. By the fall of 2000 Herbst had done 61 mazes. The Bronco is, of course, the mascot of Denver’s professional football team. Herbst gets a fee for the design and a percentage of the gate. The Fritzler family mans the ticket booth and sells t-shirts, often until 10 p.m. on weekends. Fritzler is thankful to have found a good way out of the agriculture boom-bust cycle by offering to entertain the public and create a new stream of steady income. For more information on Fritzler’s maze, call 970-737-2129. From the listserve Market Farming, Sept. 12, 2000. Market-farming@franklin.oit.unc.edu.pumpkin patch (or ride a hay wagon). The farm Things To Buyalso features a picnic area, a playground, andpumpkin sales. Personnel from the nearby Noble The bottom line for most entertainment farms isFoundation assisted in setting up the maze. how much you can sell—either now or later—to the people attracted to your farm. Surprisingly, many farmers feel that even farmers’ markets are Joel Salatin’s List of primarily useful in building a steady customer Farm Activities base, not in daily sales. These potential custom- Petting zoo ers will get to know you and later seek you out  Straw bale maze to meet their unique needs. This is the principle Baked treats  Arts and crafts of “relationship marketing.” Sell to people who Hay rides  Haunted house come to know you and count you as a friend. Homemade toys  Miniature golf Your farm store or gift shop should display your Full food service  Observation deck farm’s finest products to maximum advantage to Company parties  Catering build repeat sales. Pumpkin patch  Face painting Concessions  Bonfire with marshmallows Food and drink Outdoor activities on a warm day will makeSee Appendix B for more ideas about entertain- anyone thirsty. Ready-to-eat food and a selectionment farming enterprises. of beverages are part of the experience of your entertainment farm. They can also be a profit center. Be as creative as you can, and try to have refreshments that fit your farm’s theme.PAGE 8 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • If you operate a winery, you will or more—if, typically, you mustnaturally have your products dis- build a separate building fromplayed. Think of opportunities Farmers who have become the ground up. You will needfor selling cold beverages to the successful in value-added en- access to an approved slaugh- terprises typically find retailgrandparents photographing the terhouse for any meat products. profits so attractive that theymaze, the u-pickers, the children begin to purchase, rather than (For more information, see Joelwho have just done 100 turns on grow, much of their raw mate- Salatin’s book.) Alternatives in-the slide out on the miniature hay- rial. The farm then takes on clude a cooperative communitymow. On a recent visit to an herb the character of a land-based kitchen or renting a commercialfarm, I was offered the opportunity business enterprise, not just kitchen. Cornell University isto buy a commercially bottled nu- a producer of commodities. even developing a mobile com-traceutical drink—containing St. mercial kitchen. Be familiar withJohnswort, valerian, and guarana. Apple cider your state’s processing regulations if you areis a good drink for the Midwest, and people may planning to sell on-farm processed food to thewant to buy a gallon to take home. public State health departments or depart- ments of agriculture, universities, and businessHomemade ice cream, sandwiches, fresh fruit, incubators can assist.barbecue, and roasting ears are all possibilitiesfor ready-to-eat food sales. Shopping at the farm storeGifts and souvenirs Maureen Rogers of The Herbal ConnectionThere is a huge industry overseas manufacturing provides this advice (originally from Bottomregional souvenirs for the U.S. If at all possible, Line/Business, 1/97).have your gift items represent your farm, some- The key to successful retailing for [the next fewthing that is actually produced locally. Stick years] will be to make shopping not merelyto a theme, something that truly represents the pleasant but entertaining as well. Despite theuniqueness of your farm and your region. Items growth of catalog shopping, consumers willfor sale on an herb entertainment farm can in- continue to go to stores. But the stores they visitclude everything from potted rosemary plants to will be the ones where they not only find whata complete set of essential oils for aromatherapy. they like at the right price, but where they canWood carvings (traditionally done in the slow have a good time. Bookstores with coffee barswinter months), dolls, quilts, basketry, wheat are a good example.weavings, pottery, packets of heirloom seeds, anddecorative items such as fresh and dried flow- A 1992 study of tourists’ shopping habits,ers, pumpkins, corn shocks, and handloomed conducted by the North Central Regional Ex-wool—as well as foods, such as meats, cheeses, tension Services, determined that “after mealsother milk products, and winter squash—are all and lodging, [tourists] spend most of theirpossibilities. One farmer realized that decorative tourist dollars on clothing, crafts, and localshocks were worth more than his corn. Another food products. Almost 70 percent buy gifts forsold echinacea flowers when the bottom dropped future events and for mementos” (Small Farmout of the market for echinacea root. Research News, September-October, 1993, p. 3). Considerby the North Central Region Extension Service installing a convenient automatic teller machinerevealed that wood is the medium preferred by (ATM).(9)tourists for crafts. This research also determinedthat women probably don’t charge enough for Farmers must be prepared to sell themselves asthe craft items they market, since men typically well as their businesses, so image is all-impor-charge two to four times as much. tant. People want to see an attractive facility and personnel—neat and clean. Location andYou will need an approved commercial kitchen appearance are the most important aspects offor any value-added food products produced on a farm business that caters to the public— notthe farm. This type of facility can cost $100,000 necessarily price. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 9
  • Remember that return customers are the key to scheduled regional farm tours. Tickets to farmsuccess. Eighty percent of your business comes daytrip tours in Maine, generally including twofrom 20% of your customers, and it takes five or three farms in a single county, cost $12 to $15times as much money/time/effort to get a new per person, with children under 12 free. Lunchcustomer as it does to keep an old one. is extra.A Maine farm store Highlight a garden pathIn the mid-1980s Gregg and Gloria Varney bought Appleton Creamery is a small-scale goathis parents’ Maine farm after they sold their dairy farm and dairy where Brad and Caitlinherd.The farm included excellent crop land. The Hunter also grow flowers and organic veg-Varneys’ first farm business was Gloria’s yarn etables, including many heirloom varieties.shop, which started people coming to their farm. Brad, a home brewer and wine maker, hasThis became the impetus for the Varneys to ex- included in the garden two essential ingre-pand their offerings at the farm store to include dients for beer and wine—hops and grapes.their own meats (beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, A collection of bird houses surrounds theand turkey), raw milk, and baked goods. In 1994, traditional cottage garden, where the Hunt-with the help of apprentices, Gloria and Gregg ers grow edible flowers and herbs to use inimplemented a five-year plan to “learn how to the farm’s goat cheeses, and a path throughmake cheese and raise small scale animals with the garden leads to the barn, where visitorsminimal grain purchases.” After initially hitting can see the goats.a wall when they realized they needed a state-in-spected cheese facility and pasteurizer that could The grounds also house “garden sculpture”cost $10,000, they arranged to borrow the money created out of found objects—old farmfrom future customers, paying off the loans with equipment, flea market furniture, cast-offfood from the store. For example, a $100 loan children’s toys.could be redeemed at a later time for $110 worthof farm-raised food.The goat-cheese operation has been a huge suc- Nature-based tourismcess, and it allows an April to November sched-ule that fits in well with their farmers’ market A further option for recreational farming isschedule and the Thanksgiving season, giving leasing wooded land or marginal cropland forthem a break from the end of November for the hunting, fishing, or hiking. Hunting leases arenext six months. In 1995 the Varneys became the most common form of recreation leases and100% organic with the conversion of the dairy can range from one-day trespass fees to guidedcow operation. They now have more than 100 trips and lodging. Of course liability, licenses,organic cows. and regulations are important considerations in planning for a recreational lease.(11) Such useTheir product line in the farm store has expanded, can sometimes be combined with overnight lodg-as well. Surplus vegetables go into value-added ing, campgrounds, and a farm store. Texas A&Mproducts such as pickles, relishes, and stewed University, http://survey.tamu.edu/ntactivities, hastomatoes. Other excess is used to feed the pigs a program at its La Copita Ranch to train landand chickens. This integrated operation is a big managers in hosting this type of tourism.hit with customers, who now have no questionabout where their food originates. People now For information and technical advice on licensescome to the farm not just to buy their food but and regulations, contact local offices of the fol-to spend time there and let their children see the lowing agencies.animals.(10) • Fish and Wildlife ServiceThe Varney Farm is not the only farm in Maine • USDA Natural Resources Conservationoriented toward tourism, and there are regularly Service • State Department of Natural ResourcesPAGE 10 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • Another source of information on hunting leases • a ramp to a platform that’sis Managing Your Farm for Lease Hunting and a slightly higher than the hay wagonGuide to Developing Hunting Leases.(12) (for handicapped access to hayrides) • a “long reacher” for apple picking • raised beds for strawberry pickinge-Commerce • for seasonal events, a sign saying, “If you need assistance….”With a click of the mouse a worldwide audience • large-print signs, brochures, or audiotapescan gain access to your information. More and of brochures.more sites featuring particular farms and selling • door openings at least 32 inches widefarm products directly to consumers are joining (to accommodate wheelchairs) andthe organization-sponsored producer directories doors able to be opened with a closednow on-line. Some farm Web sites are listed in fist (knobs are out).ATTRA’s Direct Marketing publication. • rugs taped to the floor with velcro.Liability Guarding against risks to childrenLiability issues for farms that host the public are on the farmgenerally resolved with appropriate insurance. Age 0–5Insurance needs will vary by operation. NeilHamilton’s book The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Careful supervision by adults. Physical bar-Marketing provides guidance on choosing and riers such as locks and fences. Safe distrac-consulting with an independent insurance agent tions. No riding on farm machinery.(see Resources, below). Insurance representa-tives can provide guidance on specific steps for Age 5–10reducing risks of your operation. A new data-base on farm injuries can be found at www.nsc. Consistent rules; discussing safe behavior;org/necas/. careful supervision of activities.Specific examples of how individual farms have Age 10–16handled insurance needs may be found in theNRCS publication Success Stories—Agritourism, Consistent rules, with consequences for in-Direct Marketing, Education, Conservation, Agritain- fractions and rewards for safe behavior.ment. (Call 1-888-LANDSCAPE or see www.nhq.nrcs.usda.gov/RESS/econ/ressd.htm.) Age 16–18 Prohibition of drugs and alcohol. Empha-Complying with the sis on acceptance of adult responsibilities.Americans With Disabilities Opportunity to be role models for youngerAct (ADA) children.Modifications to allow the differently abled ac- An Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rep-cess to your farm attraction include the resentative will usually be glad to come out andfollowing. advise you on specifics. • space reserved for handicapped parking Risks incurred when the public is invited to a • a farmstand with a hard packed or paved farm may include soil compaction, damage to surface orchards and crops, litter, and of course increased • one bathroom accessible to the liability. Such costs have been estimated at $1 to handicapped (can be rented) $2 per visitor, which should be factored into fees and prices. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 11
  • Conclusion: The New Outlook DatabasesProfessor Duncan Hilchey of the Cornell Sus-tainable Agriculture program advises American • National: www.farmstop.comfarmers: • California: www.calagtour.org • Texas Nature Tourism Database and Growers have to adopt a new outlook and switch Workbook: http://survey.tamu.edu/ their thinking away from production toward ntactivities giving today’s consumers what they want. That • Illinois: www.leisurestudies.uiuc.edu might include farm tours, value-added products, /agritourism or even adding a petting zoo. People come out to the farm these days not so much to buy large quantities of produce, but for the immersion experience for themselves and their children. They are looking for a farm-fresh feeling—not References just food.(6) 1) Salatin, Joel. 1998. You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Start and $ucceedThe University of California’s Small Farm Center in a Farming Enterprise. Polyface Inc.,has developed an on-line agricultural tourism Swope, VA. 480 p.directory (www.calagtour.org) to provide touristswith an easy way to “search for a farm experi- 2) Klonsky, Karen et al. 1993. Marketingence.” Farm proprietors interested in a listing crafts and tourist products. Small Farmare encouraged to contact the Center.(13) A News. September–October. p. 3. [ar-national agri-tourism database (www.farmstop. ticle based on a survey of 1,400 farm craftscom) complements those developed by Illinois, marketers by North Central RegionalTexas, and other states. Extension Service, University of Nebraska]The number-one requirement for a successful 3) Buck, Cathy. 1995. Ag tourism opens op-agri-entertainment venture is an abundance of portunities; Crop art is more than prettyenergy and enthusiasm. A willingness to think pictures. American Agriculturist.unconventionally may be equally important. September. p. 7.Whatever you do, do it with a flair for show-manship. Let your creative side come out. With 4) Hancock, Gael. 2000. Pick-your-ownenough thought, ingenuity, determination, and methods for marketing your pick-capital, almost any farm anywhere could be your-own farm. AgVentures. August–adapted to agri-entertainment. Stiff-necked indi- September. p. 10.vidualism and suspicion of change work againstsuccess in entertainment farming. A willingness 5) Beetler, Dianne L. 1996. On-farm tour-to provide what the public truly wants and is ist attraction. Small Farm Today. October.willing to pay for is the way to success. Just as p. 52–53.the railroad barons of the 19th century neededto start thinking of themselves as being in the 6) Hilchey, Duncan. 1993. Agritourism: Op-transportation business (instead of the railroad portunities and Challenges. Farming Alter-business) in order to compete successfully in natives. Summer. p. 1.the 20th; so the farmers of the 21st century mustbegin thinking of themselves as being in the land 7) Hilchey, Duncan. 1999. Regional foodmanagement business, rather than the farming identity. Farming Alternatives. Summer.business, in order to reach their farm family goals p. 1.and dreams. 8) Klober, Kelly. 2000. U-Pick Marketing. Small Farm Today. May. p. 41–42.PAGE 12 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • 9) Kuerstenberg, Kelly. 2003. ATMs on the • Considerations for Agritourism Devel- farm and at the market. The Seasonal Mar- opment (Publication) keter. January. p. 1. • Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm-10) Adapted from Maine Organic Farmer & Based Enterprises (Publication) Gardener (MOFGA) News. June-August 2000. p. 27. May be ordered from:11) Elias, Debra. 1996. Recreational Leases. Educational Resources Program: Minnesota CRP Information Series. 607-255-9252 December. 2 p. Media Services: 607-255-2080 Community Food and Agriculture Pro-12) Delaware Cooperative Extension Service. gram: 607- 255-9832 or 255-4413 1988. Managing Your Farm for Lease Hunting and a Guide to Developing Hunt Farm and Ranch Recreation Handbook. ing Leases. No. 147. DCES, Georgetown, uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/RanchRecr DE. Hamilton, Neil. 1999. The Legal Guide for Direct13) Small Farm Center Farm Marketing. Drake University Press, Cedar University of California Rapids, IA. 235 p. One Shields Ave. Davis, CA 95616-8699 New Mexico Department of Tourism. 2000. “Ag” 530-752-8136 Tourism. 530-752-7716 FAX www.nmsu.edu/~redtt/Resources/html/AgTours. sfcenter@ucdavis.edu html University of Minnesota. 2003. Building a Resources Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses.Comprehensive Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, St. Paul, MN. $14.00 plus 3.95 s/h; 411 Borlaug Hall, St. Paul, MN 55108; 1-800-909-MISA.USDA/NRCS. 2004. Alternative Enterprises Misamail@umn.eduand Agritourism, Farming for Profit and Sus- Make checks payable to University of Minne-tainability—Tool Kit. 2300 p. Available at sota.www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/RESS/altenterprise/resmanual.html. USDA/AMS. 2000. Direct Marketing Today: Challenges and Opportunities. 58 p. www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/DirectMar2.Agricultural tourism business pdf. Order publication from: velma.lakins@usda.development gov.Agri-Business Council of Oregon. 2003. Agri-Tourism Workbook. 110 p. Articles of general interestwww.aglink.org. Adam, Katherine. 2002. Agritourism: Profit fromCornell University Materials your lifestyle. Mother Earth News. June–July. p. 18. • Agritourism (Resource Packet) • Agritourism in New York: Opportuni- Jolly, Desmond. 1999. Agricultural tourism: ties and Challenges in Farm-Based Rec- Emerging opportunity. Small Farm News. Sum- reation and Hospitality (Publication) mer. p. 1, 4–5. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 13
  • Jolly, Desmond, and Jeanne McCormack. 1999.Agri-tourism: A desperate last straw? Small FarmNews. Fall. p. 2.Lyson, Thomas. 2000. Some thoughts on civicagriculture. Farming Alternatives [Cornell].p. 1, 4. A substantial number of smaller-scale, locally oriented, flexibly organized farms and food pro- ducers are taking root [to] fill the geographic and economic spaces passed over or ignored by large … producers. These farms will articulate with consumer demand for locally produced and processed food. Civic agriculture is not only a source of family income for the farmer, but contributes to the social, economic, political and cultural health and vitality of the commun- ities in which they exist.McCue, Susan. 1999. Successful agriculturaltourism ventures. Small Farm News. Summer.p. 1, 6–7.SAN. 2000. Marketing Strategies: Farmers andRanchers Reap New Profits. Small Farm Today.May. p. 35–38.Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism The electronic version of EntertainmentBy Katherine L. Adam Farming and Agri-Tourism is located at:NCAT Agriculture Specialist HTMLSeptember 2004 http://www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/entertain-©NCAT 2004 ment.htmlEdited by Paul Williams PDFFormatted by Cynthia Arnold http://www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/entertn.IP109 pdfSlot #95Version 032505PAGE 14 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM
  • Appendix A Checklist of Agri-tourism Development Considerations*Agri-tourism businesses Farm festivals[ ] Personal evaluation [ ] Planning committee[ ] Market evaluation [ ] Festival mission[ ] Project feasibility evaluation [ ] Location of festival[ ] Financial evaluation [ ] Licenses and permits[ ] Business plan development [ ] Attractions, entertainment, food[ ] Marketing plan development [ ] Budget strategy[ ] Insurance needs [ ] Promotional campaign[ ] Regulations and permits [ ] Insurance needs [ ] Management considerations [ ] Public safety plan [ ] EvaluationFarmers’ markets Regional agri-tourism planning[ ] Market coordinator [ ] Region identification[ ] Planning meetings [ ] Community involvement[ ] Advisory committee [ ] Concerns about development[ ] Organizational structure [ ] Visitor market groups[ ] Visitor market groups [ ] Planning sessions[ ] Location of market [ ] Goals and objectives[ ] Vendor fees [ ] Resource and attraction inventory[ ] Promotional campaign [ ] Theme[ ] Insurance needs [ ] Action plan[ ] Appearance of market [ ] Promotional plan[ ] Customer amenities [ ] Evaluation[ ] Vendor support and policies[ ] Coupon programs[ ] Evaluation* from: Kuehn, Diane et al. 1998. Considerations for Agri-tourism Development. p. 1. //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM PAGE 15
  • Appendix B: Some Successful Entertainment Farming Enterprises and Techniques (farm recreation and hospitality businesses) Wineries with Friday Educational tours Historical re-creations happy hours Arts & crafts Farm schools Living history farms demonstrations Heirloom plants and Farm stores K-12 schools animals Roadside stands Outdoor Schools Civil War plantations Processing demonstrations Challenge Schools Log buildings Movement-based retreat Cider pressing Maple sugaring centers Antique villages Native American villages Sheep shearing Herb walks Frontier villages Wool processing Collections of old farm Workshops Sorghum milling machinery Festivals Miniature villages Apple butter making Farm theme playgrounds for Cooking demos Fee fishing/hunting children Pick-your-own Fantasylands Farm vacations Pumpkin patches Gift shops Bed and breakfasts Rent-an-apple tree Antiques Farm tours Moonlight activities Crafts Horseback riding Pageants Crafts demonstrations Crosscountry skiing Speakers Food sales Camping Regional themes Lunch counters Hayrides Mazes Cold drinks Sleigh rides Rest areas for snowmobilers or Crop art Restaurants cross-country skiers Pancake breakfasts during Pizza farms Themes (apple town, etc.) sugaring season Bad weather Native prairies Picnic grounds accommodations preservation August “Dog Days”—50% off Shady spots for travelers Tastings dogwoods if customer brings to rest picture of family dog, etc. Buffalo Campgrounds Hieroglyphics, rock art Indian mounds, Dude ranches Hunting lodges earthworks artPAGE 16 //ENTERTAINMENT FARMING AND AGRI-TOURISM