Ohio agritourism benefits farmers and consumers

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The morning began with a hearty cowboy breakfast, then we saddled the horses and hit the trails. We buckaroos rode over rolling hills and crossed trickling creeks. When the afternoon sun grew hot, we rested the horses under a shady canopy of trees. That evening we were treated to a chuck-wagon dinner around a campfire, complete with s’mores and cowboy poetry. It was a perfect day made possible by agritourism.

My husband and I are diehard agritourists. Each summer we visit a local u-pick blueberry farm in South Bloomfield, Ohio. I buy plenty of berries to eat fresh and freeze. In fall we attend Hirsch’s Annual Apple Harvest Open House. We ride the hay wagon to the peak of the property and gaze down at the apple orchard below. The beautiful view still takes my breath away — even after six seasons attending Hirsch Fruit Farm’s agritourism event!

Agritourism activities are an opportunity for producers to start, grow or expand their agribusinesses. Consumers awareness and interest in how food is produced is increasing. Agritourism is a wonderful way to deepen farmers’ connection to customers, educate the public on food production and offer an enriching family-friendly activity to members of the community.

“Inviting the public onto your farm to participate in farm-related activities and see for themselves how food is produced in Ohio can be a win-win for both farmers and consumers,” Christie Welch, Direct Marketing Program Specialist at the Ohio State University South Centers said. “It is a great way to educate the public, and it can add additional income to your operation.”

More benefits

Agritourism also is a business diversification strategy. A pumpkin grower can add a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Hops and wine grape growers can host locally produced beer and wine tastings at their yard or vineyard. Producers can complement their current offerings with an agritourism activity; a grower of specialty crops can partner with a local chef to cook up a farm-to-table dinner.

Ohio AgritourismReady Conference

Producers considering adding agritourism to their operation will find the possibilities are endless, but there are several things to consider before opening your barn door to the public. Whether you have been inviting the public onto your farm for years or are just exploring the possibilities, the Ohio AgritourismReady Conference aims to prepare producers with the knowledge to start or expand an agritourism operation.  Topics for the conference include:

  • Food & Animals – Managing Liability
  • Awesome Customer Service
  • Getting Grants and Low-Interest Loans
  • Spirits, Beer, and Wine, Oh My!
  • Much more

The conference is being presented by the Ohio State University Extension Direct Food and Agriculture Marketing Team, The Resource and Ag Law Program, Wright & Moore, LPA, and The Ohio Farm Bureau and Pike County Farm Bureau.

The second annual Ohio AgritourismReady Conference we be held March 10, 2018 at the OSU South Centers Endeavor Center in Piketon, Ohio. Registration is required as space is limited.  For more information or to register contact gardner.1148@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 x. 132.  Deadline to register is March 2.  The registration fee is $25/person.  Farm Bureau members can receive a $5 discount.

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