Creating a "Farm Stay" Workshop

Lee Fields, Hatch, Dora Ann  |  4/6/2016 4:32:00 PM

In today’s busy world people are looking for places to relax and reconnect with simpler times and family. The LSU AgCenter’s agritourism program and Mississippi State’s Natural Resource Enterprises Program have planned a workshop to teach landowners how to use their assets to attract city folks for a day trip or overnight lodging.

The host site for our May 10, 2016 DeSoto Parish Agritourism Workshop is Keachi Acres, owned and operated by Mary Nesbitt in Keachi, LA, just thirty minutes from Shreveport off I-49. Nesbitt’s has a captivating story about starting her operation. In the early years, she began offering overnight stays on her farm to friends and family; and enjoyed it so much she began hosting farm stays.

Nesbitt books stays through several popular online programs like Airbnb and HipCamp. These programs book the stay and then contact Nesbitt with arrival times. They handle the bookkeeping and she does the rest. In addition, she also participates in World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, WWOOF, an exchange program where volunteers travel at their own expense and volunteer their help to organic farmers. The host farmer provides food, lodging and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles in different locations. Stays to her farm also include an opportunity to garden, collect eggs, fish, go horseback riding, take a long walk in the woods or just sit on the back porch.

The workshop will begin with an overview of agritourism by LSU AgCenter’s agritourism coordinator, Dora Ann Hatch; Dr. Daryl Jones from Mississippi State University will explain how recreational type enterprises can provide supplemental income. Evan McCommon, operator of Mahaffey Farms, will discuss his farming techniques and the interest in direct marketing clean foods.

After a short break, LSU AgCenter’s Grace Peterson will join Angie White of Slow Food North Louisiana to talk about the need for a healthy regional food system and what Slow Food North Louisiana can offer. Then Janice Delerno, who owns her on B & B and is the President of the Louisiana B & B Association, will share how to start a B & B on your property.

Our host, Mary Nesbitt, will begin her presentation before lunch about how Keachi Acres started and following lunch, guests will tour her operation. Ricky Kilpatrick with the LSU AgCenter will share his knowledge of developing nature trails and provide educational resources for agritourists hoping to include nature in their farm experience. Chris Reid, botanist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will provide information on the Louisiana Natural Areas Registry Program.

The workshop is $20 per person or $30 for a couple. To register for this workshop, go to: www.lsuagcenter.com/agritourism and open the brochure for the “DeSoto Parish Agritourism Workshop,” or register through Mississippi State at http://wildlifeworkshop.msstate.edu/register.asp

Registration by mail is also an option: Jessica Rahim, Dept. of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, PO Box 9690, Mississippi State, MS 39762. Make checks payable to: Mississippi State.

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