Agritourism: there’s a term I haven’t heard before!
I defer to the reliable sources of Wikipedia and learn that agritourism is defined as “any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch.”
It also seems to be a increasingly popular marketing strategy for food producers as more people recognize the value in visiting farms, ranches and other sites of food production. Typically, these specialized destinations are open to the public – at least part of the year – and offer lots of activities, ranging from hay rides, veggie harvests, and farm tours to wine tastings and cider pressings. Sounds like fun to me!
I can see benefits on both ends. For the guest, these experiences offer opportunity to learn and participate in the farming lifestyle. On the other hand, the owner is offered opportunity to develop an additional outlet of business that will engage some of their daily activities – even the not-so-fun ones – in a fun, educational setting. Agritourism is suddenly making a lot more sense to me.
Today, on Monday, December 6th, Jane Eckhert, will be conducting a webinar, titled “Marketing to Today’s Consumer” at 12pm.
Jane is a farmer’s daughter and former corporate marketing executive and has found a way to balance her two passions through agritourism. She has established “Eckert’s Country Store and Farms” http://www.eckerts.com/. one of the leading agritourism sites in North America, attracting over 500 000 visitors annually. She has also gone on to develop “Eckert Agrimarketing, ” described as “a full-service marketing and consulting firm that offers a variety of services to the tourism industry and agricultural operations, helping them harvest the rewards of agritourism.”
When thinking more about this term I am brought back to a fond memory of a visit to Sugar Moon Farm, a lovely place located just outside Earltown, Nova Scotia. A pancake house and maple farm! Clearly a prime example of Maritime agritourism. What combination could possibly be any better? That was what I was thinking as I devoured a stack of pancakes after participating in a sap tap. Sugar Moon Farm offers a fully licensed “maple brunch” featuring everything from their signature (all you can eat!) organic red fife buttermilk pancakes to maple whiskey sours. During the rest of year, the farm features guest chef dinners and their infamous maple-based brunch options, using local organic products whenever possible.
As I am writing from Halifax, I quickly sourced an online copy of the Nova Scotia Agritourism Guide and found a wide selection available to create an ideal to-do list. For example, some of these excursions could involve a trip to the Gaspereau Valley to visit L’Acadie Vineyards for a sampling of their award-winning certified organic wine; a venture to Inverness, Cape Breton to tour Glenora Inn and Distillery – which as I’ve just learned is North America’s only single malt distillery; or a jaunt down to Kings County for a apple u-pick at Boates Orchards. The listings available within New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island also detail varied options, including horse-back riding and farm-based bed & breakfasts. Though Nova Scotia appears to be the only province with a comprehensive online directory, with a bit more searching I still found information on a variety of events and activities throughout the Maritimes.
Agritourism seems to already have significant presence within the Maritimes and while not ideal for every farm, there is plenty of possibility for more activities to take place. Certainly these developments present a new opportunity to bridge farmer-consumer connections and raise agricultural awareness.
Lucia Stephen works for ACORN and recently completed a Apprenticeship program in Ecological Horticulture at UC Santa Cruz. Though she has fallen in love with California, she is a Maritimer at heart and – thus far – looks forward to the snowy months ahead.