Agricultural tourism, often called ‘agritourism,’ is a method of direct marketing, which has grown in popularity in recent years, as it can be another financial option to sell and promote farm products, one’s farming enterprise and share the benefits of farming with your community and the public. Types of agritourism include, but are not limited to farm tours, product tastings and educational classes. Recreational activities on the farm are considered agritourism as well. Examples are farm-stays (camping), fishing or hunting, nature-related activities, U-pick and farm-to-table dinner events. Essentially, activity which opens the farm to the public may be marketed as agritourism. In some instances, farmer’s markets and farm stands may be listed as agritourism; however, these are actually each different methods of direct marketing.
Because there are many options for adding agritourism to a farm or ranch enterprise, thorough planning is advised. Just as one plans a farming enterprise, things to consider for an agritourism endeavor include what you want to do and how often (e.g. seasonal); additional structures and equipment requirements and capability; staffing, risk management and insurance needs; general regulations and special permit requirements; and marketing trends and options. Also consider the community environment where your farm is located. Are there any zoning or other land use restrictions. Will extra communications with neighbors and local community be necessary to gain support of your agritourism business?
The University of California has several resources available to assist you in developing and marketing an agritourism component to your farm or ranch enterprise. Please see the following sites for more agritourism resources including planning guidelines, previous trainings and helpful links.
California Agritourism Directory
Agritourism Connections Blog
Agritourism Resources: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute
Agritourism: Small Farm Program
Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California, Second Edition
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication Number: 3484
151 pp, English, paperback, $25.00.