Agritourism is a type of commercial enterprise where agriculture and tourism meet.
Whether it’s a working farm where someone can experience farm life or finding creative ways to connect tourists with agriculture operations, agritourism is an industry that’s quickly gaining a lot of attention.
In this article, we’ll walk you through what agritourism is, and different ideas you can use to connect businesses with agriculture.
What is Agritourism and Why is It Important?
Agritourism is a form of tourism that connects tourists with agriculture.
Not only is it an opportunity for agriculture businesses to expand their reach and revenue, but it also allows for direct marketing to customers and the general public.
By providing tours, experiences, and education around agriculture, farms can create a more direct connection with customers and create something truly unique for customers.
The education portion of agritourism is important too! It provides an avenue of information for tourists to understand the land, and where their food comes from.
Through agritourism, farms can also preserve their lands, and the state can help develop business enterprises around it for the betterment of the area and the public.
The Agritourism Business in the United States
It’s safe to say that the agritourism industry is doing very well, especially when it comes to growing farm income. According to research, the agritourism market is set to reach 11.7.37 billion dollars by 2027. As it grows, there are plans for increased government initiatives.
States like California have embraced agritourism, holding many festivals throughout the year to celebrate different crops and bring in tourists.
For example, California hosts the Gilroy Garlic Festival every year and the California Strawberry Festival, bringing in thousands of people and income annually.
8 Agritourism Ideas to Connect Communities with Agriculture
With agritourism, a farm can create an experience for visitors and tourists. You can create activity-based experiences on your land and/or interactive events and tours. Here are some tourism tips you can use to bring in more visitors.
1. Offer Outdoor Recreation Agritourism Activities
Outdoor recreation is one of the most popular agri-tourism business ideas. It’s a great way for guests to have fun with their loved ones, and it can work across seasons. This could include:
- Farm activities
- Corn maze
- Pumpkin patches
- Harvest festivals
- Farm dinners
- Horseback riding
- Wildlife photography
- Outdoor farm stays
- Wagon or sleigh rides
2. Provide Education
Educational awareness and agritourism go well together since it blends recreation and learning.
You can create educational experiences around farming operations, crops, and living on a farm. Other ideas for educational experiences could be:
- Animal exhibits
- Sheep shearing or fishing
- Facts about crops on the farm
- Cooking classes using crops from the farm
- Guided animal tours
- Farm work experience days
- Food festivals
- Storytelling days
- Historical re-enactments
- Plant a garden days
3. Offer Hospitality
Hospitality is another great addition to farm income and there are a lot of benefits to adding it to your agritourism business. Guests can experience farm activities and there has been increasing demand for more farm-to-table dining experiences.
Especially for a small farm, there is a lot of opportunity to create a unique experience for guests by serving farm food on-site and home-cooked meals.
Hospitality ideas could include:
- On-site restaurants
- ‘U pick’ experiences and cooking with what guests find
- Winemaking and tasting
- Outdoor dining
- Seasonal ingredient showcases
- Farm stand with fresh produce
- Pop-up restaurant with seasonal menus
- Home-cooked meals
- Food truck
4. Offer Accommodations like Farm Stays and More
Another avenue to boost your agritourism is to invite people to stay on your farm.
It’s one of the best ways to diversify income because it makes guests feel like they are truly part of the farm and creates a more authentic feel for families and general tourism. This can include:
- Short-term stays
- Long-term stays
- Work experience holidays
- Activity-based stays for fishing, hunting, etc.
- Seasonal stays for events such as harvest festivals, corn mazes and a pumpkin patch
- Guided tours around different lands and areas nearby
- Bed and breakfast
- Wedding accommodations
- Corporate retreats
- Honeymoon destination
5. Add Direct Agricultural Sales – Farmers Market Anyone?
Direct agricultural tourism sales add another layer of income for farms, and show off the hard work of farmers. Direct sales can help with publicity, and is a key marketing initiative that brings more visitors to the farm. And direct sales can also be a method to introduce the public to the agriculture industry on a broader level, and generate interest through:
- U Pick
- Harvest festivals
- Farm stands
- Farmers markets
- Wine tasting
- Fresh produce sales
- Herbs and heirloom plants
- Cut flowers
6. Introduce Entertainment
Farms can also increase revenue by introducing entertainment. This could include hosting events at a farm, inviting others to host events, or a mixture of the two.
Entertainment events could include:
- Music nights
- Stargazing nights
- Petting zoos
- Sports events
- Scavenger hunts
- Games night
- Cooking contests
- Haunted barns
- Pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin carving contests
7. Give Visitors Tours
If you’re looking to start agritourism activities immediately, consider starting with visitor tours.
It’s an interesting way for people to learn more about the farm itself, the farmers involved, and participate in activities and tours such as:
- Ranch tours
- General farm tours
- Animal tours
- Tours of nearby lands and areas
- Wine tasting tours
- Farmers market tours
- Historical tours
- Heritage trail tours
- Food tours
- Activity tours such as birdwatching, fishing, hunting, etc.
8. Offer Unique Experiences
Ultimately, great tourism is about offering people something unique. Every farm is different and can offer something distinct based on its resources.
Think about what your unique selling point is. Whether it’s the types of crops grown, the land around the farm, or even the activities you can market around.
Experiences could include:
- Wine tasting
- Farm tours
- Farm stays
- Harvest festivals
- Pumpkin patch
- Corn mazes
- Farmers markets
- Tours around the ranch
- Educational experiences
How Small Businesses Can Participate in Agritourism Operations
Participating in an agritourism operation will depend on each farm and its operation.
The best ideas will differ, but the main goal should be to be unique and add value. How can you make it an enticing experience for a child, or a family?
What is exciting about farming, and how does that translate into an experience for someone visiting? Whether it’s a week staying at a ranch or stargazing nights once a week, you can start with something small and focus on marketing it as much as possible. Once you see what people are interested in, you can optimize the experience.
There are many agritourism operations around the world, each offering something completely different. We’ve selected some of the best examples from the United States.
Tate Farms, Meridianville, AL
A pumpkin path and fall festival destination, Tate Farms has plenty to offer for families visiting and corporate events.
Purple Haze Lavender, Sequim, WA
A charming lavender farm that makes for a gorgeous spot for families and friends, with unique events planned around lavender and providing resources to learn more about the flower.
Blue Spruce Alpacas, La Porte, IN
A family-owned alpaca farm that invites visitors to get to know the animals, learn more about them and interact with alpacas in a fun (and safe!) manner.
Breisch Pyo Gardens, Solar and Bee School, Sand Springs, OK
A small farm that gives visitors opportunities to learn more about bees, pollination, and experience beautiful plants.
Papa’s Pumpkin Patch, Bismarck, ND
Known as one of the best pumpkin patches in the United States, this is a great tourism destination that’s known for attracting families and tourists.
What are the Benefits of Agritourism?
There are many benefits of agritourism for a farm, from a recreation and revenue standpoint.
- Increased and diverse income streams
- More visitors to the farm
- Visibility around the farm and its operations
- Unique experiences that boost tourism
- Getting products into the market through direct sales
- Building connections with the community
What are the Problems with Agritourism?
While agritourism can do a lot of good, it also has its downsides and risks.
- There can be legal issues, so it is crucial to do research around agritourism statutes in your area to ensure operations can run as planned.
- Accidents and issues can occur, so having a risk management plan is important
- You might need to put down significant capital and resources to build or renovate before bringing in customers.
- There can be seasonal downturns where business may slow down.
What kinds of agritourism enterprises are there?
There are many agritourism enterprises out there, including farm stays, tours, working experience, and educational experiences.
What is agritourism in its purest form?
In its purest form, agritourism is a form of tourism that connects people with farms.
How does agritourism help the community?
Agritourism helps the community by providing recreational and educational experiences, creating jobs, and bringing in government initiatives to help the community grow. It is part of the American tourism industry with great growth potential.