Agritourism News for Counties
Agritourism Complements Farm, Ranch Operation
Agritourism is, by definition, the practice of inviting guests to visit and/or participate in normal farm or ranch activities. Farms and ranches participating in Agritourism activities are most often working farms and ranches, and tourism activity is a secondary income for the family. Agritourism activities usually are not designed for large groups of guests, but some, such as pumpkin patches, orchards, farm festivals and corn mazes, are exceptions. Agritourism generally is viewed as small-scale, low-impact and, in most cases, education-focused.
Agritourism includes camping, biking, hiking, bed and breakfasts, fresh pick-your-own vegetables and fruits, rental cabins, fee hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities such as nature photography and birdwatching. The list is limited only by the operator’s imagination.
Where does an agritourism business fit into a farm plan? You already are fully engaged in your farming operation, so how do you create a space and time for an additional business? As a supplementary enterprise, agritourism can be a minor activity that also supports your current operation. For example, if your primary business is livestock production, you could invite school groups to your ranch a couple of days a month or at a specific time of year to talk about ranching.
If you are considering something more, perhaps a pick-your-own enterprise or corn maze would be the way to go. For example, if you already sell pumpkins to a wholesaler or retailer, you may want to grow a few more and create a pumpkin patch with children’s activities. And if you grow corn, add a corn maze. These would be complementary businesses to your current operations. They are just an expansion of what you already do. Wineries, bed and breakfasts and other overnight lodging can and probably would become primary enterprises as they grow in scope with the number of related activities and the time involved.
Whether the agrienterprise supplements, complements or becomes the primary enterprise depends entirely on what the farm or ranch family wants to do. But making sure that whatever enterprise is envisioned is well-planned is critical.
The first thing you need to consider if you are thinking about starting an agritourism business is whether this is an appropriate option for you. You then will need to set goals, assess your resources and develop a business plan.
For more information on developing a business plan, go to the North Dakota Small Business Development Center’s resource Web page at www.ndsbdc.org/resources
For more information on agritourism enterprise development, contact the NDSU Extension Center for Community Vitality at 701-328-9718 or the North Dakota Tourism Division at (701) 328-2525.