Sharing successful agritourism marketing ideas among goals of April 8 summit

Feb 3, 2015

Visiting a farm to pick fruit is a fun family activity and an exciting way to teach kids how food is grown. The money spent by farm visitors also helps keep farmers in business. As farmers find more innovative ways to pique the interest of consumers, agritourism continues to expand in California.

People who host a farm stand, U-pick, farm stays, tours, on-farm classes, fairs, festivals, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, winery weddings, orchard dinners, youth camps, barn dances, hunting, fishing, guest ranch or any activity associated with a farm, are considered part of California's agritourism business.

Everyone involved in California agritourism is invited to share ideas and make plans together at a Statewide Agritourism Summit on Wednesday, April 8, at the Heidrick Agricultural History Center in Woodland. The day-long event will be hosted by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Cooperative Extension and collaborating partners.

UC's small farm program and Cooperative Extension advisors provide resources for farmers to add agritourism activities to supplement their farm income. UC also hosts a directory of California agritourism operations to visit at http://calagtour.org.

“Many California agricultural producers host great opportunities for the enjoyment and education of the public and are ready for visitors, but challenges persist in most regions,” said Holly George, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Plumas and Sierra counties and leader of the UC Nature and Agricultural Tourism Workgroup. “Groups working on agritourism are thriving in some locales and struggling in other areas.”

“Communication and collaboration beyond the ‘farm trail' group appears to be part of the solution to success,” said George, who is one of the summit organizers. “We hope this one-day Agritourism Summit will encourage and strengthen regional and cross-regional working relationships among agritourism operators, organizers, regulators, educators and general tourism promoters throughout California.”

People who should attend include agritourism operators and associations, agritourism regulators, agricultural associations and educators, tourism marketing and economic development professionals, county and state government staff, elected officials and anyone else involved in California agritourism.

This participatory event will be 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with lunch provided. Participants are invited to bring marketing and organizational information to display and share.

The goals of the summit are to:

  • Build awareness and understanding of successful local and regional networks that benefit agricultural producers and communities, and connect agritourism operators, the larger tourism community and county staff and officials
  • Promote sharing of successful agritourism activities and marketing efforts
  • Encourage and assist agritourism producers to collaborate with others in their region
  • Expand the reach of regional efforts to market agritourism to the public statewide
  • Generate a voice for agritourism at a legislative level
  • Initiate plans for a statewide framework for agritourism communication and collaboration

This project is funded in part by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Additional sponsors are Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) for California, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and California Rangeland Conservation Coalition.

Funding is available through these generous sponsors to assist with travel costs for a limited number of agricultural producers and agricultural educators who could not otherwise attend the summit. For information about travel assistance, please contact Penny Leff at paleff@ucdavis.edu or (530) 752-7779.

For more information, visit the Statewide Agritourism Summit website athttp://ucanr.edu/agtoursummit2015info. Registration costs $20 until April 3, 2015, or $30 at the door. Register online at http://ucanr.edu/agtoursummit2015.    

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By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach