The Agritourism Connection April 2012

Dora Ann Hatch  |  3/27/2012 12:54:12 AM

What is Agritourism?

Agritourism, a business venture on a working farm, ranch or agricultural enterprise, is growing in popularity throughout the United States. Agritourism blends entertainment, education and tourism together to provide a fun, exciting and memorable getaway for school trips and family outings. This website provides educational resources to assist new and existing entrepreneurs in developing, expanding and improving their agritourism ventures.

Outdoor Enterprise Business Plan Development and Legal Considerations Workshop

Business Plan Development and Legal Considerations for Outdoor Enterprises brochure.

Join us on Wednesday, June 6, 2011, at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center, 112 Front Street, Vidalia, La., from 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m. for the Outdoor Enterprise Business Plan Development Workshop.

Landowners who have considered an outdoor recreational enterprise as a business venture, those who would like to expand an existing operation or anyone interested in generating additional income from their property should attend this workshop. Private landowners can put their land to work for them by offering attractions like an agritourism enterprise (farm tours, corn maze, u-pick-em, etc.); hunting or fishing enterprise; or a nature-based enterprise that offers access to wildlife, nature or birding.

This workshop sponsored by the Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprise Program and the LSU AgCenter will help you explore land management options for supplemental income. Land management specialists, enterprise operators, attorneys and bankers will present the facts and figures and lead “hands-on” sessions to help you draft an outline of a business plan – a vital document for bringing an idea to reality.

To pre-register, click here. Complete the brochure registration form by June 1and mail your registration fee ($20 per person or $30 per couple) to Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter, Agritourism Coordinator, 11959 Highway 9, Homer, LA 71040. Make checks payable to “LSU AgCenter.” On-site registration begins at 8 a.m. and the program begins at 9 a.m.

For more information, contact Dora Ann Hatch at 318-927-9654, ext. 229, or visit and click on conferences.

Paddling Trails Offer New Income Possibilities for Farmers, Ranchers

Bayou Bartholomew Paddling Trail brochure.

Recently a group in northeast Louisiana has developed some water trails with the help of well-known river guide John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company. Ruskey paddled with several in the group in September 2011, and his narrative of three trails is now available online at Explore Louisiana North.

In his writing, Ruskey calls the reader’s attention to the beauty, tranquility and spectacular views of wildlife along these waterways. His guide is filled with information on where to start your paddle and where to end. He provides references to the river gauges and suggests optimum paddling times.

If you own land adjacent to these paddling trails, there is an opportunity for you to diversify your farming operation and offer access to the river or bayou for paddling. Paddling has become a very popular pastime, and people will pay up to $50 a day for a canoe and shuttle between access points.

This project was led by the LSU AgCenter to assist landowners in envisioning new opportunities for their land.

Organic Gardening. Is It for You?

Organic gar­dening is popular in the United States, and there is increasing interest in Louisiana. In organic gardening, particular garden practices are encouraged that use natural biological cycles, enhance diversity and are ecologically sound. A major difference between “conventional” and organic gardening is that the latter uses natural materials rather than synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, with a goal to make the garden sustainable. Click here for more information.

You Choose: Farmers Markets or Roadside Stands

Consumers today want fresh, flavorful foods with no food additives. The best way to provide locally grown foods is through farmers markets and roadside stands.

If your community has an existing farmers market, contact the manager and ask for a copy of their rules and regulations. If you qualify, that’s a great place to start your produce business. Working with other local farmers draws more people to a shopping destination. The more farmers selling in a concentrated area, the more likely you will have a constant flow of customers.

If a farmers market is not available, start one or seek another option – a roadside stand. Roadside stands located along a major highway with several stands located within a few miles of each other create another great way to attract customers. Roadside stands are usually adjacent to the farmland, and customers like to see where their produce originates.

Statewide, there are 154 farmers markets, roadside stands and farm stores listed on MarketMaker.

List FREE on MarketMaker

Louisiana MarketMaker

MarketMaker provides a free listing online to farmers, ranchers, fisheries, farmers markets, agritourism operators, retailers, buyers, wineries, wholesalers, processors, and eating and drinking places. Click on MarketMaker to learn more.

The home page has a listing of in-season fruits and vegetables. When you register and you list the fruits and vegetables you sell on your page, your page will automatically link to the front page and display your profile. For example, if an online shopper clicks on “berries,” every farmer who has berries for sale in their registration form will automatically be listed for the shopper.

Farmers Market Program in Louisiana

Farmers Market Coupons Welcome

According to Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, “The Farmers Market Nutrition Program helps our older residents purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and roadside stands. Not only does the program give them the ability to buy good, healthy, fresh food, it also supports our local farmers. The harvest is coming in now, and there are plenty of tomatoes, blueberries, squash, beans and melons available.”

Coupons are available to eligible seniors. Those who qualify receive a book of six $4 coupons ($24). To learn how to qualify, contact your local Council on Aging.

Farmers who wish to participate in this program must sign a “Farmer Participation Agreement.” Call the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at 985-345-9483 to learn more.

2011 Ag Summary Available Online

This publication presents the value of Louisiana agriculture in 2011. Agents and specialists of the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service as well as other public and private agencies compiled the data. Their analysis focuses on the animal, forestry, fisheries, plant and wildlife commodities that comprise our vital agricultural industry. Agricultural and natural resource industries contribute significantly to our state’s economy and carry with them the potential for increased economic benefits and job creation through value-added processing in urban and rural communities throughout Louisiana. Click here for the complete summary.

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Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture