As I travel around the country working with state and county Farm Bureau groups, someone will inevitably ask me what ideas I have come across for successful agritourism and rural businesses.
Every state has examples of farm businesses that educate the public about agriculture and their own farm products. Some do this by inviting the public to their farm through a bed-and-breakfast (KD Guest Ranch, Ohio), festivals (Flag Hill Winery Festival, NH), or hosting hunting activities (Drake Landing at Andrews Farm, NC).
These businesses have capitalized on the location of their farm, the amenities surrounding them, or a specialty feature that sets their farm apart. Knowing who your competition is can be critical for a successful venture and marketing is imperative.
USDA Economic Research Service has publications that might help new business ventures understand what some of the issues are, including articles in their magazine, Amber Waves, and a farm-based recreation statistical profile.
The Ag Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) offers lots of resources, including insurance and liability issues for agritourism operators.
Here are some other ideas for increasing the economic value of a farm by opening up the farm gate to visitors. I am sure you have many other ideas and success stories to share! Please feel free to share your comments.
- Petting Zoo
- Corn Maze
- Farmers Market
- Horse, Sleigh and Wagon Rides
- Chuck Wagon and Bonfire Dinners
- Country Bed and Breakfast
- Hospitality Facility
- Cabin and Farmhouse rentals; family farm vacations
- Sites for Festivals – music, food, animal, harvest, cultural
- For fee activities – Firearm shooting, fishing, archery, bird watching, camping, go carts, laser tag, paint balling, snowmobiling, etc.
- Off road/all terrain vehicles, motorcycle track
- Hunting –Guided
- Demonstrations – Quilt making, soap making, weaving, rug making, bread making, furniture making, crafts
- Farm museum – antique equipment, petting zoo, food service
- Holiday celebrations– corn maze, pumpkin carving, horse rides, apple cider, other food