Ecotravel/Ecotourism

Published on June 20th, 2011 | by Karen Lee

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Agritourism Is A Win-Win Business

Recently there has been a significant amount of buzz circulating about eco-tourism and, more specifically, about agritourism. This buzz coincides with the renewed interest in farmers markets and consumers who are interested in once again becoming closer to their food. With outbreaks of E. Coli and Salmonella, who doesn’t want to know more about where their food comes from?  Another reason – It’s just plain fun.

What is Agritourism?
The term agritourism can include a variety of activities – anything from a week volunteer farm stay, to picking pumpkins, to an afternoon tour of a farm operation. Any version gives the consumer an opportunity to see the side of a farm that would not normally be open to the public, to learn more about the source of their food, and to ask whatever questions happen to come to mind. For a short period, you get to experience the beauty of rural life, usually without most or any of the work. Many tours even include tastings of wine, cheese, meats, and other loveliness that is sourced on the farm or in the local area. At the end of the tours, customers can often purchase the goodies they sampled in order to take a piece of the experience home with them and further support the farmers and farms they visited.

From a farmer’s perspective, it is an excellent chance to build a relationship with customers, and to show off their farm, and their wares. Additionally, it diversifies income by offering a new source (tourism) that may not have been previously available. Liability concerns aside, it seems like a clear win/win for all parties.

Farm Dinners
One of the latest and the most popular agritourism events on the farm is “farm-to-table” dinners. Imagine having the opportunity to participate in an on-the-farm dinner where you are served the foods that were harvested and cooked on the same day. You start with appetizers upon arrival often outside. The view is beautiful – you can look out over a field, or over a productive garden. After mingling, the farmer will introduce him/herself to the group and guide everyone around for a tour of the farm. He or she will tell the story of their farm and what they do. You have the opportunity meet the animals, maybe bottle feed one or two, and ask any questions you may have. After the walk, you are taken to a table where you sit down to enjoy a five course meal. Most ingredients are local and there is discussion of each item as it arrives. The tour ends with a fantastic dessert and coffee as darkness sets in.

Sounds heavenly? It absolutely is. Very similar experiences are happening all over the country as more and more farmers begin opening their farms for agritourism events.

Where to find Agritourism?
North Carolina is lucky enough to have two fantastic organizations who organize farm tours and other agritourism events several times a year. The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project have both done much to market farms and farmers state wide. Not only do they hold farm tours where consumers can visit multiple farms over a two day period, they also publish local food guides, and publicize on-farm dinners. If you’re in North Carolina, you can check their web sites, or keep up with them on Facebook.

Check with your local extension office for information about agritourism and local organizations that support farms. Summer is the time – support local food and plan your farm visits now.

Resources:
WWOO, CFSA, ASAP, and NY Times

{Photos} Poprock Photography

This post is written by a guest writer, Julia Gold, a co-owner of Belle Terre, a natural personal care product company. Both Julia and her husband Wayne are passionate about sustainable and purposeful living. When not working, they tend their bees, keep a small garden, and love their four dogs.





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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.



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