Agritourism conference showcases opportunities for farmers

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Farm to table dinner
View from above farm to table dinner by Rachel Tayse (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via Flickr.

My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with agritourism instead of a candlelight dinner. We spent a day trail riding through the Appalachian hills. The wrangler guided us back to the ranch just as the sun was beginning to set. We watched the afternoon shadows shift across thick green pastures and grazing cattle. Trail riders lingered to enjoy conversation as free-range poultry and guinea birds pecked the ground near our feet. “This was a great anniversary date!” we told the owner, who congratulated us on 15 years of marriage and invited us back.

The USDA defines agritourism as “any business activity that invites visitors to come on the farm, ranch or into a rural community to enjoy agriculture and the natural resources,” (2004). If you’ve attended a farm to table dinner, enjoyed a craft beer in an Ohio hop yard, picked your own pumpkins, or made your way through a corn maze, you’ve experienced Ohio agritourism.

In addition to entertainment, agritourism educates consumers on agricultural production and introduces them to the farmers behind their food. Agritourism is a way for farmers to add value to their operations through diversification or additional revenue streams. It is an opportunity to support local food systems and strengthen local economies.

2019 OSU Agritourism Conference

The 2019 OSU Agritourism Conference will inspire, educate and connect farmers looking to start or grow an existing agritourism business. The annual conference is an effort of the Ohio State University Extension, Wright & Moore Law, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and Maize Valley Winery.

This year the conference takes place at Maize Valley Winery in Hartville, Ohio. Owners Michelle and Bill Bakan will host the event and spend the day sharing lessons they have learned owning and operating their family farm. Maize Valley features a fresh produce market, deli, bakery, winery and vineyard, and a year-round calendar of agritourism events. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to view operations during a tour of the 750-acre agritourism destination.

Diane Riehm of Riehm Produce Farm will offer tips to engage customers. Diane’s family farm invites consumers to visit the farm and purchase produce, meat, eggs, and additional local foods and crafts. Riehm Produce Farm is famous for its annual farm to fork dinners and their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offerings.

“The 2019 Agritourism Conference features breakout sessions in marketing your farm, generating revenue in the “off” season, laws and regulations that impact agritourism operations, and much more. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn from practitioners, Extension specialists and professional service providers,” says Christie Welch, who leads the Ohio State University Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Team.

Date: Monday, March 25, 2019

Time:  8:30 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.

Cost: $30.00 per person  

Location: Maize Valley Winery 6193 Edison Street NE, Hartville, Ohio 44632

For online registration, agenda, and more details go to http://www.go.osu.edu/agritourismconference2019   

For more information or to register by phone contact Charissa Gardner, email: gardner.1148@osu.edu  ph: 740.289.2071 ext. 132.

References

USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. (Jan 2004). “Alternative Enterprises and Agritourism – Farming for Profit and Sustainability.” AE-1. Retrieved from https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_009287.pdf

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