Louisiana Agritourism Connection April 2011

Dora Ann Hatch  |  3/23/2011 11:16:33 PM

What is Agritourism?

boy and fish

Recently someone shared with me an article that appeared in the Baton Rouge Advocate Daily Digest stating that farm tourism is not big in Louisiana. The writer quoted numbers from a website, Farm Stay US, in which Louisiana listed four places where people can have the farm experience and spend the night.

Agritourism is much more broadly defined that a farm stay. It includes farm tours, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, farmers markets, roadside stands, u-pick-ems, horseback riding, fee fishing, camping/picnicking, wagon rides, school tours, garden/nursery tours, winery tours, on-farm sales, exotic animal farms, petting zoos, wildlife viewing, wildlife photography, canoeing and birding to just name a few. <="" u="">

The LSU AgCenter defines agritourism as a business venture on a working farm, ranch or agricultural enterprise that offers educational and fun experiences for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner. Visitors participate in friendly “discovery” and learning activities in natural or agricultural settings.

So, is agritourism big in Louisiana? You bet it is. The LSU AgCenter has committed resources to promoting agritourism and works with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to administer the agritourism limited liability law that was passed in 2008 at the request of agritourism operators. To date, 43 agritourism operations are enrolled.

The LSU AgCenter hosts a website and blog on agritourism. Agritourism operations are listed on the MarketMaker website also. Select “find an agritourism operation” and select from facilities and offerings, activities and shopping.

Farm Stay US

screen shot farm stay us

Farm Stay US, managed by Scottie Jones, is a great website and an opportunity for people to increase their sales in agritourism. I recently presented in the same track as Scottie at a national conference and was impressed with her presentation about her farm-stay organization.

Scottie owns and operates a farm stay with her family. Farm stays are defined as overnight stays at an agricultural enterprise. This may include working with the farmer directly, harvesting your own food or just sitting back and watching the farm or ranch operations. Scottie allows her guests to participate or watch. Visitors can stay in the main house or in a detached residence during their stay.

Flowers and Photography

flowers and children

Many local communities have festivals showcasing flowers. In north Louisiana, the Jonquil Festival is held the first Saturday in March each year. People come by the hundreds to admire and take pictures of jonquils in fields.

This is a great place for professional or amateur photographers to photograph young children. The attached photo is a picture of a yard planted in tulips near Wisner.

Which Flowers Sell Best?

How do you pick the perfect cut flower to sell at the farmers market or roadside stand? Here are some things to consider:

  • Grow flowers that are easy to grow like sunflowers, zinnas, daisies.
  • Grow flowers that have stems so that you can bunch them for sale.
  • Offer a variety of colors.
  • Bunch flowers with mixed colors to reflect holidays like Fourth of July.

In Louisiana, only licensed florists are allowed to arrange flowers for sale. So be careful to bunch your flowers and place them in a vessel containing water to keep them fresh.

Signage

egg sign

Spring is here, and many agritourism operators are dusting off their signage and preparing for their seasonal customers. Now is the perfect time to create a new sign or refurbish an old one.

Your sign represents your business; it's travelers' first impression of who you are. Make sure your signs are:

  • In good condition; clean and well-positioned.
  • Legible, with plain lettering for easy reading.
  • Not too busy with graphics. Remember, people are driving.

It's Time To Get The Farmers Market Organized

farmers market

Consumers today are showing a preference for locally grown foods. They want foods that have not been harvested prematurely, held in storage or transported across the country. They want fresh, flavorful foods with no food additives. The best way to provide locally grown foods is through farmers markets, roadside stands or farm stores.

March and April are good months to work on the organization of the farmers market. Who will be the market manager? Who will be in charge of marketing? Who will get the market premises ready? Tasks for May should include contacting farmers to determine what fruits and vegetables will be ready for sale on opening day. May is not too early to begin advertising your opening day.

Many markets have volunteers or market managers who manage the day-to-day operations of the market. Market times vary across our region; some markets are open daily while others are only open one or two days a week. The success of a market is directly related to the market manager selecting appropriate hours for the farmers market. The manager should take into consideration times best suited for farmers to showcase freshly picked produce.

Does your market have a policy on who can sell? Sometimes problems arise when sellers at markets are peddlers reselling produce they have purchased. Sometimes these peddlers bring in out-of-state produce and are not part of the community in which they are selling. On the other hand, sometimes the presence of peddlers provides a volume of produce necessary to keep customers interested in the market. Your market should address this issue and make a decision on who can sell before a situation arises.

Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture

Top