- (Public Value) UCANR: Promoting economic prosperity in California
- Author: Penny A. Leff
Are you considering agritourism or nature tourism on your farm or ranch?
Would you like to expand your current agritourism or nature tourism business?
Agritourism Intensive 2021 classes are now open for registration by farmers, ranchers, agritourism operators and others involved in agritourism in the Central Coast (SLO) and North Coast (Mendocino) regions.
Learn more & Sign up today to save your space!
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year's classes will be mostly virtual, conducted via Zoom, with one in-person field day in each class series if allowed by health authorities. However, each class will be regionally-focused, participatory, and limited to participants from within the region.
- Local agritourism operators will share their own experiences and will be part of a supportive network of advisors as class participants plan and start new enterprises.
- Participants will learn from experts in business planning, regulatory compliance, risk management, hospitality and cost-effective marketing, including social media.
- The hands-on, interactive activities will guide participants as they assess their own farms or ranches for agritourism potential and start their own business, risk management and marketing plans.
- Each participant will receive by US mail a free copy of the extensive handbook, “Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California,” used as a text for the class.
Important: The SLO region Agritourism Intensive classes is open only to farmers, ranchers and others involved in agritourism in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties.
SLO Class Format: 6 participatory 2-hour Zoom meetings, every Tuesday from January 12, 2021 to February 16, 2021, 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (a possible in-person field day Jan. 26). Shared zoom participation will be available at the SLO Farm Bureau office for those with poor internet access.
SLO Registration: http://ucanr.edu/agtourslo
Important: The Mendocino region Agritourism Intensive class is open only to farmers, ranchers and others involved in or planning agritourism in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma Counties.
Mendocino Class Format: 4 participatory 2-hour Zoom meetings, every Wednesday morning from March 3, 2021 through March 24, 2021, and one in-person field day on the site of a Mendocino County agritourism operation (location TBD) on March 31.
Mendocino Registration: http://ucanr.edu/agtourmendo
Workshop fee: $40 (for all class sessions, including class text mailed to you and lunch at on-farm field day session)
Information & scholarship options: Penny Leff, firstname.lastname@example.org, 530-902-9763 (cell)
- Author: Penny A. Leff
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service recently published the recipients of Farmers' Market Promotion Program 2020 grants. The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP) is excited to announce that our project proposal, Strengthening California local food networks with agritourism and direct sales, was selected for funding. UC SAREP will manage this three-year project in collaboration with a team of ANR Cooperative Extension advisors and staff working with established agricultural and agritourism associations to provide education, technical assistance, promotion and networking support for farmers and ranchers throughout California who are engaged in direct marketing and agritourism activities.
With the emergence of “shelter-in-place” directives, California's small-scale direct-marketing farms and agritourism operations faced drastic and immediate disruptions to operations causing major losses in revenue and lay-offs for staff. Particularly hard-hit were agritourism operators who had to cancel visitor- serving activities, often reducing staff or not hiring for seasonal employment. Positively, the disruptions in food supply and mobility brought the existence and importance of local farms and ranches to the attention of much of the public.
Increased awareness by the public of local farms and ranches indicates that potential for local agritourism and direct sales opportunities will increase when shelter-in-place restrictions are relaxed, offering needed options for small-scale farm and ranch diversification. Agritourism can provide farmers and ranchers with diversification options to help reduce risk, but diversifying with agritourism introduces new risks and challenges for producers that can be overcome with training, connections and resources.
The UC ANR team, working under the direction of UC SAREP Director Gail Feenstra and coordinated by UC SAREP Agritourism Coordinator Penny Leff, includes Laura Snell, County Director, UCCE Modoc County, Luis Espino, County Director, UCCE Butte County, Margaret Gullette Lloyd, Small Farms Advisor, UCCE Solano County, Karen Giovannini, UCCE Sonoma County Agruiculture Ombudsman and Laura Crothers, UC SAREP Communication Specialist. We will partner for this project with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and established producer based agriculture associations Modoc Harvest, Sonoma County Farm Trails, Sierra Oro Farm Trail (Butte Co.) and Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association (Solano Co.).
Training & technical assistance
In Winter 2020-21, with travel and group gathering restrictions still in place, we will enable rapid response to COVID-19 and changing marketing conditions by California's small-scale producers through a series of webinars for farmers and ranchers adopting and adapting new and modified direct marketing and agritourism activities. The series of one-hour webinars (which will be recorded andshared for future use) will be on the topics below:
#1 Online sales options and methods
#2 Getting started with CSAs and box delivery programs
#3 Operating a safe, healthy & successful farm stand
#4 Best practices for U-Pick operations
#5 Best practices for visitor interaction with animals
#6 Best practices for farm tours, workshops and farm-based education
#7 Creative marketing and staying connected with social media
#8 Community collaboration – farm trail groups, tourism connections and other options
In project year two, with the expectation that travel restrictions will be relaxed by Fall 2021, the project will build in-depth, hands-on learning and increased collaboration by farmers and ranchers through a series of four workshops/field days in each of four California regions severely impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The workshops will be held in Modoc, Sonoma, Solano and Butte Counties. The half-day workshops/field days, held on the farms or ranches of experienced operators of the activities being discussed, will focus on the following topics:
#1 Expanding direct-to-consumer sales through online sales/on-farm pickup, CSAs, farm direct delivery and commercial or contracted shipping
#2 Developing and marketing successful community-serving farm stands and U-Pick Operations
#3 Planning and marketing farm dinners, tours, workshops and other on-farm educational activities for the local community
#4 Community collaboration, community events and shared marketing - examples and best practices for increased connections, producer support, successful marketing and shared operations
Marketing: Connecting farms and ranches to local communities for resilient local food systems
During the project, the experienced leaders of the four partnering agricultural associations will conduct marketing campaigns promoting direct sales and agritourism activities at local farms to local communities. The campaigns will be different in each region, but will include a mix of social media marketing, print, radio and paid media advertising, signs, postcards, fliers, and creative collaborative direct sales and agritourism events or activities.
Organizing: Regional networks for ongoing support of direct sales and agritourism
The agricultural marketing association leaders will also convene and facilitate quarterly meetings of regional “Direct Sales and Agritourism Networking Groups.” Each networking group will include the partnering organizations as well as regional farmers' market associations, tourism bureaus and local farm advocates, and will regularly discuss issues, provide peer support, and work together to strengthen local food security and connect farmers and ranchers with their communities through direct sales and agritourism.
We are excited to begin this project and look forward to working with California farmers, ranchers and their communities to strengthen skills and collaboration and increase revenue to small-scale producers.
Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant #AM200100XXXXG177. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.
- Author: Penny A. Leff
Celebrate World Environment Day by joining ACDI/VOCA and Agritourism Experts David Visher & Penny Leff on Friday, June 5, at 11:00 am EST (8:00 am PST/19:00 GMT+4) for the live webinar “What Is Rural Tourism? Opportunities for Development.”*
As the COVID-19 crisis impacts traditional tourism and constrains travelers' ability to gather in large groups, we see small group rural tourism as the best way safely forward. Our discussants will examine rural tourism, how it can equip communities to prosper economically, and how host communities can prepare to leverage this promising change.
David Visher is a seasoned Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer, completing 17 assignments in 12 countries, among other accomplishments in academia and with NGOs.
Penny Leff is the statewide Agritourism Coordinator with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Thelonious Trimmell, ACDI/VOCA Senior Agribusiness Advisor and former Chief of Party, will moderate the event.
*Access this live event on Microsoft Teams through the following link: https://tinyurl.com/ybpwwxsx
- Author: Penny Leff
Hello California farmers and ranchers. Are you considering inviting visitors to your land for extra income, public education and community connections? Or are you already an agritourism operator interested in networking with others involved in California agritourism? If so, we invite you to join us at one of the upcoming events where UC SAREP Agritourism Coordinator Penny Leff will be speaking about agritourism development that benefits growers and communities.
Sustainable Food and Farming Conference, February 7 to 9 at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, organized by Sierra Harvest. Penny will be joining Debbie Bierwagen, long-time agritourism operator of the Donner Trail Fruit Farm Market & Pumpkin Patch, in leading a workshop, "Adding to your income stream with agritourism," from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. on Sunday February 9th.
Tuolumne County Agritourism Summit, Thursday, February 20 in Jamestown, organized by Visit Tuolumne County, This event, organized to leverage Tuolumne County's agricultural resources, will be held at the Hurst Ranch, giving attendees a chance to tour and hear firsthand from experienced and successful agritourism operator Leslie Hurst. Penny will lead a discussion about assessing the agritourism potential of your farm or ranch. Local farmers and ranchers are invited to sign up online or call (209) 533-4420. Cost is $20 per person, which includes lunch.
California Small Farm Conference, February 27 - 29 in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, organized by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). Join Penny and founding members of the newly organized San Luis Obispo Farm Trail for a workshop on "Building a Farm Trail," from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, February 28.
We hope to meet you at one or more of these exciting California educational and networking events.
The University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP), a statewide program of UC ANR, hosts an agritourism program dedicated to sharing resources and connections for the California agritourism community. We manage a directory and event calendar (www.calagtour.org) providing information to the public about opportunities to visit and enjoy California farms and ranches. Listings on calagtour.org are free to California farmers and ranchers offering any kind of on-farm or on-ranch direct sales or experiences, including tours, farm stands, tasting rooms, pumpkin patches, U-Pick, farm dinners, guest ranches, farm stays, classes, weddings, or other adventures. UC SAREP also produces a regular newsletter for the California agritourism community and hosts a website full of resources for those involved in the California agritourism industry, https://ucanr.edu/sites/agritourism/.
- Author: Penny Leff
From winery tasting rooms to pumpkin patches, apple picking and goat yoga, California farmers and ranchers are leaders and innovators in agritourism, utilizing tradition and creativity as they invite the public to visit and experience rural life. They mange farm stands, host on-farm dinners, offer school field trips, public tours, festivals, classes, on-farm lodging and guest ranches, outdoor recreation and multiple other experiences to diversify income and connect with their own communities and visitors from far away.
All Calilfornia agritourism operators are are invited and encouraged to take part in a national survey about agritourism and direct sales.
The survey is at: tinyurl.com/agritourismsurvey
The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP), a statewide program of UC ANR, is collaborating with the University of Vermont and others to gauge the scope and impact of the industry nationwide. Farmers and ranchers throughout the country are being asked to participate in the short survey for a study led by the University of Vermont. The data will be used by cooperative extension and research personnel to develop resources to help increase the success of small and medium-sized farms and ranches that offer on-farm direct sales, education, hospitality, recreation, entertainment and other types of agritourism.
The survey, which will take about 10-15 minutes to complete, is available online at tinyurl.com/agritourismsurvey. All responses will be kept confidential, and participants may opt out of answering survey questions at any time.
Leaders of California's many farm trails and agritourism associations are encouraged to share the link to this survey with their members to ensure that California is well represented in this important national study.
In addition to demographic and farm information, the survey will collect data on direct sales and agritourism experiences offered, visitor numbers and goals, successes, challenges and future plans for agritourism. Farmers also will be able to provide input on the types of support needed to achieve success with agritourism including on-farm direct sales.
This multi-state survey and research project is being coordinated by Extension Professor Lisa Chase and Associate Professor David Conner, both with the University of Vermont, and funded through a Critical Agriculture Research and Extension grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Collaborators include research and cooperative extension faculty in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and West Virginia.