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.”
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 email@example.com 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.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
In this workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of the specialty food marketplace and how to start creating their own success story. Specialty-food business experts will give tips for marketing and specialty food producers will tell their stories. All participants will receive the book “Sell Your Specialty Food,” and will leave with a clearer understanding of the industry and real-world answers to their questions.
Each workshop will last from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Online registration is encouraged. The fee is $20 for online registration by Feb. 2, or $35 (cash or check) at the door. Lunch and snacks are included in the workshop fee. Vegetarian options are available.
The Novato workshop will be Monday, Feb. 9, at the Hamilton Community Center, 503 South Palm Drive, Novato, CA 94949. More information and registration: http://ucanr.edu/spfoodsmarin
The Oakland workshop will be Friday, Feb. 13, at the Alameda County Public Health Dept., 1000 Broadway, Room 5000A, Oakland CA 94607. More info and registration: http://ucanr.edu/spfoodoak
Three additional specialty-food business workshops will be scheduled in Northern California this spring.
“Specialty food experts will discuss the business realities – from production to promotion. We'll cover financing, marketing, sales and distribution, as well as essential lessons about safe and legal production methods,” said workshop organizer and speaker Shermain Hardesty, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.
“Participants will also learn how to build their brand, get their product on the shelf, and price their product correctly for the market,” said Hardesty.
Other presenters will include Linda Harris, a UCCE specialist in food safety and microbiology at UC Davis, and Tim Sullivan, a specialty foods consultant with Sage Food Group. Harris will teach a section on “Staying Safe and Legal: Food Safety & Regulations.” Sullivan will discuss multiple aspects of pricing and marketing specialty food products. Two successful local specialty-food producers will describe how they began selling their products.
The workshop will include opportunities for attendees to ask questions. Participants who already have a specialty food product are invited to bring it to the workshop for everyone to taste.
For more information, contact Shermain Hardesty, (530) 752-0467,firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
- Author: Penny Leff
The California Small Farm Conference will grant nearly 100 scholarships to small scale farmers, agriculture students, family farmers, small farm employees and farmers’ market managers who may otherwise not have the finances to attend the California Small Farm Conference, March 10 to 12, 2013, in Fresno.
Scholarships are awarded based on financial need. Depending on need, scholarships may include conference registration, conference-hosted meals, a ticket to attend the tasting reception, travel and lodging costs, and a reduced field course rate.
Scholarship applications, which are available on the California Small Farm Conference website, will be accepted until Dec. 3, 2012. Bilingual scholarship advisors are available statewide to assist in the application process. Visit the website for a list of advisors and their contact information
The California Small Farm Conference, sponsored by an array of agencies that include the University of California small farm program and UC Cooperative Extension, provides the small scale farming community with the opportunity to address industry issues, engage in educational sessions, attend local farm operations for additional insight, and participate in networking opportunities.
Success in agriculture does not depend solely on a farmer’s ability to raise crops. Today’s successful agriculturists must also be expert business managers, marketers and stewards of the land. The California Small Farm Conference hosts the annual conference to offer diverse learning topics for small scale farmers and ranchers. The 2013 conference theme, Harvesting Knowledge: Growing Small Farms, reflects the goal of the California Small Farm Conference and its scholarship program.
“This organization exists to provide small scale farmers and those in the industry with access to relevant farming education,” said California Small Farm Conference President Casey Walsh Cady. “Our scholarship program ensures that access to farmers in California.
The California Small Farm Conference scholarship program is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Department of Food & Agriculture, and fund-raising activities offered at the conference.
Since its inception in 1982, more than 7, 500 farmers have benefited from the California Small Farm Conference. The conference is the state’s premier gathering for small scale farmers, farmers’ market managers, agriculture students and small farm industry professionals, which attracts about 500 attendees each year.
For further information, contact communications manager Ashley Bradley, email@example.com, (888) 712-4188.
- Posted By: Jeannette E. Warnert
- Written by: Brenda Dawson, (530) 752-7779, firstname.lastname@example.org
The talk, along with introductions, Q&A and light refreshments, will be 4 – 6 p.m. at the Rominger West Winery, 4602 Second St. in Davis. Tickets are $10, and reservations are available online at http://ucanr.org/slowmoney.
Slow Money is a national network dedicated to investing in local food and agricultural enterprises.
“We often hear about ‘voting with your dollar’ when it comes to supporting small-scale farmers and local food,” said Shermain Hardesty, Cooperative Extension economist in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resources Economics. “Shopping at a farmers market or becoming a CSA member are ways to support small-scale farms as a consumer, but Slow Money can be a way to invest in them.”
One local venture which has sought funding through Slow Money is the Capay Valley Farm Shop, a collaborative of 30 farms and ranches who together offer a CSA to institutions and corporations.
“Through Slow Money, we’re reaching investors who share our values, who believe that community food systems are a great investment for the health of communities and for the planet,” said Thomas Nelson, president of Capay Valley Farm Shop.
After presenting at an entrepreneur showcase this summer, the Capay Valley Farm Shop is working with a group of interested investors through Slow Money.
Another agricultural venture, Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, has also worked with Slow Money investors, receiving approximately $40,000 in loans.
“This model is another way that entrepreneurs in sustainable agriculture and community food systems can seek funding—especially when conventional sources such as venture capital, the Farm Credit System or commercial banks may not be an option,” Hardesty said.
The event will include a brief introduction to current UC Davis research on values-based food systems by Hardesty and Gail Feenstra, of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. Values-based food systems create relationships between growers, funders, distributors, consumers and others based on shared values. Their project is working to identify bottlenecks—including access to capital—in the development of these values-based food supply chains, with an eye toward the enhancing the prosperity of smaller producers through networks that support environmental and social sustainability. This research is part of a USDA-funded, multi-state project, along with researchers at Colorado State University and Portland State University.
The event is sponsored by the Davis Food Co-op, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and the Giannini Foundation.
More details and ticket reservations for this event are available at http://ucanr.org/slowmoney.