Throw open the pasture gates and invite visitors to experience life on a working farm. Agritourism creates bountiful opportunities to diversify and boost your revenue with on-farm activities. And with the right ideas, you can draw folks to your farm without too much added time or expense. But be sure to check with your insurance agent first. Bonus: These profitable agritourism ideas can more deeply connect you with your community.
1. U-Pick Produce
Crops ranging from strawberries to sunflowers are ripe for the picking on u-pick farms. Provide baskets, simple instructions and let guests harvest their own produce or flowers. Don’t get upset if guests eat a few blueberries or an apple out in your field — that’s all part of the experience you’re offering. If you have the space, plant multiple crops so you can keep the u-pick option available as the seasons change.
2. Corn Maze
Invite families to spend an afternoon in your farm’s corn maze. And when paired with u-pick produce, it can turn your property into more of a destination. Use a GPS program to plot a design through an acre (or more) of corn and invite visitors to get lost on the farm. Adding other activities like a pumpkin patch or hayrides help amp up the fun factor.
3. Birthday Parties
Kids can celebrate their birthdays on the farm with this popular, year-round agritourism idea. Set up a small petting zoo with friendly animals; offer pony rides or hayrides; organize simple farm-themed games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey or duck-duck-goose. Be sure to also provide a covered picnic area where families can serve food, like pizza, cake and ice cream.
4. Farm Dinners
Your harvest can be the basis of gourmet meals. Collaborate with a local chef to develop a menu and host the occasional multi-course meal that turns your farm into a foodie destination. If you need to, you can source ingredients from other local farms as well. Farm dinners tend to be upscale events, so it’s important to budget for extras like linens, china and servers to bring out the farm-to-table meal.
5. Farm Stays
Converting an outbuilding (or building a cabin) and inviting guests to spend the night on the farm gives visitors a chance to connect with the land. Some farm stays include breakfast made with farm-fresh eggs and produce. Others invite guests to help with simple chores like collecting eggs or picking herbs. Remember to check zoning laws to see if short-term rentals are allowed.
Before Launching Any of These Agritourism Ideas
While promoting agritourism can attract new customers and boost your bottom line, inviting the public onto your farm comes with some risks. It’s important to be prepared.
Before introducing agritourism activities, be sure to put away machinery (and remove keys). Hang signs to alert visitors of potential hazards, such as electric fence wires. Have a first-aid kit on hand and install hand-washing stations.
Most importantly, consult with your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you have the proper insurance policy to cover agritourism activities on the farm. These safety precautions will ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy some fun on the farm!