Urgency Ordinance to Encourage Agritourism During Coronavirus

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The Urgency Ordinance for Agricultural Experiences provides citizens another option for outdoor activities with appropriate social distancing thereby taking some of the pressure off of our parks and beaches while providing agricultural enterprises with an opportunity.

The ordinance addresses two immediate goals: (1) facilitating compliance with the health orders in a way that is flexible and least burdensome, and (2) reducing economic harm and business closures, blight, and job losses.

The Urgency Ordinance for Agricultural Experiences says that an allowed agricultural operation may conduct an agricultural experience that complies with all of the following, without applying for a special event permit.

This Ordinance will remain in effect until 30 days after expiration or termination of physical distancing requirements, or until this Ordinance is modified or revoked by the Board of Supervisors, whichever is sooner. 

Applicable Zones

This ordinance only applies to agriculture zoned parcels:

  • LIA - Land Intensive Agriculture
  • LEA - Land Extensive Agriculture
  • DA - Diverse Agriculture

To check your zoning, visit Permit Sonoma's ActiveMap

Urgency Ordinance Allowances

An allowed agricultural use may conduct an agricultural experience that complies with all of the following:

  1. Incidental to a primary agricultural use.
  2. Features agricultural products grown or produced onsite.
  3. No amplified sound or loud musical instruments, such as horns, drums, or cymbals.
  4. Occurs during one day between the hours of 10 am and 7 pm.
  5. No overnight sleeping accommodations.
  6. Up to 4 agricultural experiences per month.*
    hikes, tours, and educational seminars without additional activities are not limited.
  7. Attendees cannot exceed the lesser of the following:
    1. The maximum number of individuals in a group allowed under the County Health Order for outdoor recreation activity businesses, or for gatherings if outdoor recreation activity businesses are no longer specifically limited; or
    2. 49 attendees.
  8. No permanent improvements are necessary to accommodate or support the agricultural experience, such as construction or grading.
  9. Compliance with environmental health requirements, including those related to food service, porta-toilets, and trash containers, fire and building code requirements, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and any other applicable requirements.

Summary of the urgency ordinance.  Full urgency ordinanceBoard item.

If you currently operate a CSA, seasonal farmstand, or small retail farm facility, you are already permitted other uses under the 2014 Small-Scale On-site Agricultural Ordinance. Read a summary of existing permitted small-scale ag uses.

To Consider

This is a wonderful way to bring customers to your farm and to build your customer base. And an effective way to test out agritourism. Is it for you? If you are new to agritourism, we recommend you consider the following as you plan inviting visitors to your farm:

  • Insurance can be expensive, but is a necessary protection. Talk to an agent familiar with agritourism.
  • Safety of visitors: tripping hazards, aggressive animals, climbing hazards. Visit: safeagritourism.org to learn more.
  • Sanitizing, restrooms, and wash stations; follow guidance from your county public health officials. Sonoma County Enforcement Orders, 8/6/2020 .
  • Your capacity for added activities, along with that of your family members, employees.
  • Visit the Agritourism page for additional information and resources.

Examples of Agricultural Experiences

These are normally classified as 'events' requiring a Special/Cultural Event permit. These activities are a great way to get people to visit your farm to learn about your operation and appreciate local agriculture. Plus this is a great opportunity to get them to sign up for a CSA subscription.

The following are examples of agricultural experiences:
Note: For experiences that include food see food service requirements.

  • Farm to Table Meal
  • Experiences where an admission fee is charged
  • Cooking class on the farm using farm ingredients
  • Picnic day on the farm
  • Educational day camp where participants make meals with farm produce
  • Sale of food and beverages - or pair with a local market/restaurant that uses your produce in their foods. Sell items at your place and/or encourage visitors to purchase lunch items at the market/restaurant and enjoy their meal on your farm
  • Visit UCANR's California Agritourism for more ideas.

Coronavirus Resources for Agritourism