Agritourism Video Training Series – Introduction

Hi, I’m Stu Nunnery and this is the
“Destination Farm in Transition,” a six part video series that can help you
launch, develop and grow your farm destination into a hot spot for Agri
tourism activity. Whether you are in a rural countryside, a suburban enclave or
an urban environment, launching and operating your own farm destination can
be a rewarding and profitable experience. Since the beginnings of agriculture more
than ten thousand years ago, people have been visiting farms, orchards and
vineyards for the many pleasures they provide. Even with the evolution of the
species and the invention of the automobile, nothing much has changed in
the joys of the farm experience, but now we call it Agri tourism. You have made a decision or are about to
make the decision to become a destination farm operator. Okay, what’s a destination farm? Well it’s a very special place for people of all
ages that provides activities and amenities far above just buying food and
farm products. And the seating and the scenery aren’t bad either. “My favorite
part of the experience probably has to do with my two sons. I have a little
guy and he loves to ride the tractor and pick his own pumpkins and it just brings
me great joy to have my kids you know running around and having a good time.”
“Yeah we come different times of year for four different perennials for the garden
and things like that but this is definitely the highlight the pumpkin
festival..the kids don’t quite understand the giant pumpkins but they
kind of see all the colors and they ride the rides and everything else.” When you
run a destination farm you’re no longer just in farming and agriculture you
become part of the hospitality and tourism industries, which means that
visitors to your farm are now going to expect a much broader range of
activities and amenities for them to enjoy. “Jazz,, jazz for kids, we have these
harvest festivals, tractor rides, making it a very much of a family-friendly
place.” “We have a giant slide, a bouncer, small carousel ride, circus ride we call
for the younger kids.” “We have a 60 acre vineyard, we grow all our own grapes, we
make about twenty thousand cases of wine a year, we get several thousand visitors
a year.” “We grow just about everything you can possibly grow in New England as far
as fruits and vegetables are concerned. we have a little bit of a gift shop and
we have artwork we have events and activities here.” Prepared foods are always a good idea if
you want to enhance revenues on the farm and many farmers are interested today in
introducing prepared foods into their business model. But success depends upon a lot of things. It’s not just about making the perfect sandwich. “We have a
full kitchen, we have a cafe where we serve generally lunches with soups and
sandwiches, we have ice cream which we make right
here on the farm from our local dairies. Okay are in Warren Rhode Island for the southern New England
giant pumpkin growers giant pumpkin weigh-off
where it is rumored this year there is a 2300 pound pumpkin waiting to be
weighed. But this is also the kind of activity where you can generate multiple
strains of revenue with activities for the whole family. Agri tourism provides
you with many options, Using your land, your crops, your buildings and your
creativity you can offer food, fiber and greenery and even more importantly
sustain your farm and the community around it>” People want a great experience
they want to be educated, they want to be entertained ,they love the outdoors they
love anything to do with farming.” “Another aspect of what the farms do is they
contribute to the quality of life of a community. We’re fortunate here to have
preserved a lot of farmland and open space.” “We find that our customers, patrons
are looking for an escape, they want to come out to the farm with the family and
take part in an activity that the whole family can be involved in. In order for
us to be successful we needed to add Agri tourism and what that’s done is
that certainly increased our sales and I just think it’s part of the
natural transition.” And while no one need tell a farmer there are challenges and
risks in agriculture, agritourism brings with it its own unique set of challenges. “If the weather is good people come. If
the weather is not good they don’t come. And for that fall season you got
basically six weeks out of the fall and you pray that the weekends are going to
be all good. One of the challenges is trying to market it to all ages in all
groups because our society has changed so much you have to take care of
everybody and that could be a big challenge.” “Making sure that you’re
meeting the expectations of people who are coming down. We have to have a great product. We have to have people here who love to talk to people.” “I think one of
the biggest financial challenges today starting a farm destination farm is
basically where are you going to get your capital from? It does cost a lot of dollars today
to start it and fortunately I started 15 years ago and slowly built myself up, My
suggestion was where I was going to start a destination farm is do it small.” “Obviously, financing is always an issue for any new business. One of the other
challenges that was very difficult is zoning and as many of you know what
you’re committed to do on a farm is often regulated by local zoning.” The goal of running your own
destination farm is to not only generate revenue. it’s to generate the kind of
direct to consumer retail sales that can make your destination farm not only
successful but profitable. “The great thing about Agri tourism unlike
retailing if you will is that we really don’t have cost of goods but we do have
expenses. So if one does a good job controlling expenses, then there’s
certainly opportunity to to achieve a decent return in Agri tourism.” Sweet
Berry Farm is a great example of a successful destination farm that has
turned its land and natural assets into multiple revenue generating enterprises. “We try to cover just about every possibility where someone would come up
here there would be an activity. We began to do some events so when you took at
everything all together we have a very diverse operation which really helped
the farm survive.” Successful Agri tourism isn’t just about what you do today but
how will you address the rapidly changing world in which you operate. Success will also come in making the
kinds of transitions you’ll need to make to get to the next level. “If you want to
get into the agritourism business and start a destination farm there are a
number of simple ways that you can do it that don’t cost a lot of money but there
are certain basics that you have to be ready for it.”
In hosting visitors at your farm remember there is no one-size product
activity or amenity that’s going to meet every need and desire expect a lot of
trial and error and just the right amount of experimentation to find out
what you should focus on right now and in the future. For more in-depth information about
starting or expanding your destination farm, continue to navigate our website
and take advantage of the videos research and materials designed just for
you you

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