> Focus On Agriculture

Agritourism in Full Bloom

Guest Author

Special Contributor to FB.org

photo credit: AFBF Photo, Philip Gerlach

Flowers and allergies alike are in full bloom, meaning only one thing: spring has sprung and the agritourism season is beginning. As city dwellers and consumers across the country make their way to farmers' markets, U-pick farms and creameries this spring and summer, it's the perfect time for farmers to share their stories with farm visitors.

Julie Tesch, executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, says consumers' unique interest in hands-on agriculture during these months is the perfect way to start conversations and keep a dialogue open throughout the year.

"Visitors are usually truly interested in the farm they're visiting, whether that be how the land is maintained, what foods are produced on the farm or simply what daily life looks like throughout the year," said Tesch. "That's the perfect time to turn agritourism to agri-education."

A few tips to educate visitors and create conversations all year long are:

  1. Welcome a dialogue. Farmers know their farms, animals, crops and operation better than anyone, and on-site visitors want to hear the unique stories each farmer can offer! While they may have competing ideas about agriculture, starting a conversation can lead to education and constructive feedback. When visitors ask questions, honest, direct answers are the best response.
  2. Embrace social media. Encouraging visitors to use hashtags, pinning locations and tagging farms is a great way to stay connected and engaged. Social media outlets also allow for conversations year round, not just when it's tourist season on the farm.
  3. Utilize resources. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has an abundance of resources designed to educate and engage. From farm banners, to ag magazines and online games, these resources were designed to educate on the farm and be brought home.
  4. Invite them back. Each time someone visits a farm they leave with a better understanding of agriculture and its importance. Inviting visitors back can create strong community bonds and an appreciation for farm work year round.

Engaging with on-farm visitors this spring is the perfect way to establish community connections, open dialogues and help consumers learn about all things agriculture. Agri-tourists have already taken the first step in hearing a farmer's story; it's up to the farmer to keep the conversation going and advocate for agriculture.

Educational materials from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture can be found at agfoundation.org ( http://www.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=4feef839b937d07f647d0f879&id=a3d301263a&e=b282dcc042).

Jessica Wharton is a communications assistant at the American Farm Bureau Federation.