8 tips to prepare your farm for agritourism

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Fall is fast approaching, which may mean fall foliage tours at some farms and pick-your-own pumpkin and apple season for others. Whether you’re planning a corn maze, a farm festival or a tour of the farm, here are some things to consider.

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1Safety first
Safety is your first priority when entertaining visitors to your farm. Your visitors’ safety is largely your responsibility. Lay down the ground rules and point out things like the bathroom and garbage locations.

When your visitors arrive, explain that you operate a working production facility and hazards may arise while they are on the farm. Certain hazards come with the territory such as uneven ground, insects, climate, farm odors, etc., and visitors must accept those risks and exercise reasonable caution.

2Clean it up
Clean up the farm ahead of time. Put away any machinery that won’t be used for display and take all keys out of the machinery. Put away sharp objects, tools and chemicals, and make sure sheds are locked where people should not be entering.

3Signs
Use signs to clearly mark any potential hazards and places visitors should avoid. These places can be near manure pits, machinery, livestock and electric fences. Make sure paths are clearly marked where visitors are allowed to be on the farm. Keep visitors away from any sick animals.

4Accessibility
Determine where people will park and if shuttle transportation will be needed from the parking area to the farm. If your event is open to the public, farmers should check to see that some portions of the farm are handicap accessible and clearly marked.

5Animals
Consider the animals’ well-being first when selecting farm animals for public interaction. Interactions between animals and guests should always be supervised by farm staff. You never know how animals will react to different people or large groups.

Ensure that only friendly, social dogs are near the public; however, always warn the public there are other animals around the farm. Barn cats may not be receptive to strangers.

6Sanitation and biosecurity
Provide hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer outside of barns or near where food is being distributed. Provide plastic boots if guests will be walking through barns and places where livestock are housed.

7Insurance
Having the appropriate insurance coverage is important when holding agritourism activities on the farm. Check with your provider to make sure you have the appropriate coverage. Your basic farm coverage will not be enough.

8Plan for emergencies
Keep a well stocked first aid kit handy and be sure knowledgeable people are on staff with CPR and first aid skills. Develop an emergency plan for dealing with natural disasters such as floods, fires or other inclement weather.Suggest that visitors wear appropriate clothing such as closed-toed shoes or long pants. Provide personal protective equipment (gloves, safety glasses, etc.) or note safe standing areas when watching certain demonstrations.

Suggest that visitors wear appropriate clothing such as closed-toed shoes or long pants. Provide personal protective equipment (gloves, safety glasses, etc.) or note safe standing areas when watching certain demonstrations.

Sources: Penn State Extension, OSHA Farm Safety Fact Sheet, Washington State University Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, University of Vermont Extension.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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