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Agritourism is a style of vacation that normally takes place on a farm or ranch. This may include the chance to help with farming and ranching tasks during the visit. Agritourism is considered to be a niche or uniquely adapted form of tourism and is often practiced in wine growing regions such as Australia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and North America. . Tourists engage in farm activities ranging from picking fruit or feeding animals, or planting crops.

Agritourism in the United States

In America, agritourism is widespread and includes any farm open to the public at least part of the year. Tourists can pick fruits and vegetables, ride horses, taste honey, learn about wine, shop in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts. Such "U-pick" farms were at their most popular in the 1970s. Other terms associated with agritourism are "farm direct marketing", "sustainable agriculture" and "agritainment".

According the USDA, Cooperative State, Education and Extension Service, "Tourism is becoming increasingly important to the U.S. economy. A conservative estimate from the Federal Reserve Board in Kansas, based on 2000 data, shows that basic travel and tourism industries accounted for 3.6 percent of all U.S. employment. Even more telling, data from the Travel Industry Association of America indicate that 1 out of every 18 people in the U.S. has a job directly resulting from travel expenditures."

Through the Small Farm Center at the University of California, "Agricultural tourism or agritourism, is one alternative for improving the incomes and potential economic viability of small farms and rural communities. Some forms of agritourism enterprises are well developed in Californiamarker, including fairs and festivals. Other possibilities still offer potential for development." They have developed a California Agritourism Database that "provides visitors and potential entrepreneurs with information about existing agritourism locations throughout the state." In the, Agricultural Tourism: Helpful Agricultural Tourism (Agritourism) Definitions fact sheet by the Small Farm Center, definitions are provided for terminology associated in agritourism including the actual phrase, "Agricultural Tourism" which is defined as referring to the "act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation."

In Western North Carolinamarker they are using agritourism to develop their local economy, craft trades, and educate their visitors to current agriculture practices. On the web site, Home Made in America, they look at agritourism this way, "…this niche market not only assists communities with solutions to help diversify their economic base, but it also helps our regional urban centers and increasingly suburban populations to understand the important role that farming and rural life plays in our history, by highlighting the need for it in our contemporary society. Agri-tourism projects reinforce the need to support local growers and sources and allow the visitor to experience what it is to be part of the land…"

In the publication, Promoting Tourism in Rural America, it explains the need for planning and marketing your rural community and to weigh the pros and cons of tourism impacts. Local citizen participation is helpful and should be included in starting any kind of a tourism program. Being prepared by planning tourism can assist in a successful program that enhances the community.

Reasons for popularity

People are more interested in how their food is produced and want to meet the producers and talk with them about what goes into food production. Children who visit the farms often have not seen a live duck, or pig, and have not picked an apple right off the tree. This form of expanded agri-tourism has given birth to what are often called "entertainment farms." These farms cater to the pick-your-own crowd, offering not only regular farm products, but also food, mazes, open-pen animals, train rides, picnic facilities and pick-your-own produce.

Agritourism was featured in the satirical NBC television comedy The Office in the episode entitled "Money" from season 4.The character Dwight Schrute lives on and maintains a beet farm, which is well known to everybody in the office. In the episode Dwight explains that Trip Advisor is the lifeblood of the agritourism industry. The characters Jim and Pam then proceed to visit the farm, where they choose the "irrigation" themed room and proceed to plow the fields, make wine from beets, and watch a table making demonstration.

Dude ranches

Dude ranches offer tourists the chance to work on cattle ranches and sometimes include cattle drives. The fact sheet, Promoting the Farm and Ranch Recreation Business, gives farmers and ranchers an insight on how to market their facilities and how to develop a strategy to help gain tourism dollars. They are more common in the United States and Australian Outback.

See also


  1. Entertainment Farming and Agri-Tourism (September 2004). ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
  2. [1] "Rural Tourism." (February 2008). USDA Cooperative State, Education and Extension Service. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  3. [2] Wilkerson, Chad (2003). "Travel and Tourism: An Overlooked Industry in the U.S. and Tenth District." Economic Review, Third Quarter 2003. Federal Reserve Board in Kansas. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  4. [3] "Economic Research: Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism." (2004). Travel Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  5. [4] “Agritourism.” Davis, California: University of California, Small Farm Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  6. [5] “California Agritourism Database.” Davis, California: University of California, Small Farm Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  7. [6] Lobo, Ramiro. “Agricultural Tourism: Helpful Agricultural Tourism (Agritourism) Definitions.” Davis, California: University of California, Small Farm Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  8. [7] “Tourism and Travel: Agri-tourism.” Asheville, NC: HandMade in America. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  9. [8] John, Patricia LaCaille (2008). Promoting Tourism in Rural America. National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  10. [9] “Agritainment: Farm and Ranch Recreation Resource Directory.” North Dakota State University Extension Service. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  11. Daniels, Barb, Jeff Powell and Susan Rottman (December 2001). “Agricultural Tourism: Promoting the Farm and Ranch Recreation Business.” University of Wyoming, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service. Bulletin #B-1125-2. Retrieved December 30, 2008.

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