Who can implement this: State and county lawmakers, advocacy organizations, and agricultural producers
Agritourism is any activity that allows the public to view or experience agriculture for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes. Agritourism includes, but is not limited to, agricultural activities for families, ranching activities, and historic, cultural, or natural attractions. Agritourism benefits farm owners by exposing their farms to the community and by providing a source of additional income (which can increase the economic viability of small farms). As they participate in unique, hands-on farming experiences, agritourists may learn to see food differently and develop a desire to protect local farms. Though agritourism may not be viable for all farming operations, it has been valuable and successful for several farms in Utah County.
- It is recommended that Utah County’s agricultural producers encourage state and county lawmakers to create county-specific codes and policies that promote and incentivize agritourism. These codes would establish the guidelines and parameters of agritourism and make it a better-known and viable source of income for farmers and ranchers.
- Governmental and non-profit farming organizations should ensure that farmers and ranchers have knowledge about the benefits of agritourism and how to establish an agritourism program on their property. These organizations should streamline the process of establishing and conducting agritourism and make agritourism law more understandable and accessible. Though putting up a liability notice for visitors is the only step farmers are strictly required to take before beginning an agritourism business, they should consider several other matters in order to maximize the possibility that their ventures will succeed:
- Farmers and ranchers must determine what activities they want to have available on the farm, what they want to sell, and the staffing needs for these services and products. They can look at other successful agritourism farms in their region to determine what has been successful in the past and what niche market they can accommodate.
- Agricultural producers must create a business plan based on the material and staffing needs of the agritourism operation. Pricing for both admission and products must also be determined. Local community colleges or business centers often assist entrepreneurs looking to create business plans
- Agritourism businesses must ensure that they comply with local regulations and the health department and provide needs like parking and ADA accessibility. These businesses must also ensure they are covered by liability insurance.
- Farmers and ranchers must establish and implement a marketing plan to attract agritourists. These marketing plans can range in complexity and are crucial to the success of an agritourism business.
Rowley’s Red Barn is one of the state’s most successful agritourism operations. The farm has a thriving school-tour system and hosts events for visitors year-round. The farm operates its own store and ice cream parlor that serves ice cream, cider slushes, shakes, and a variety of fountain sodas. Most small-scale producers may not be able to create such a large agritourism business, but Rowley’s Red Barn is a prime example of how to identify a specific agritourism niche and expand offerings and services to meet the demands of that niche.
The Petersen Family Farm in South Jordan holds a food truck event every Friday night from April through October. This event brings in a variety of food trucks and helps to expose people to farm products in a unique and enjoyable setting.
Weber County has a specific code that governs agritourism uses and clearly explains how farmers and ranchers can utilize agritourism on their farms. The code explicitly outlines agritourism activities and makes their limitations and benefits understandable.
The University of California Davis has a Small Farm Program that focuses on agritourism. Through resources such as classes and projects, the program brings together community members, students, and local farms, to explore different forms of agritourism and analyze how the relatively new field is changing as more people begin participating in it.