The Louisiana Agritourism Connection January 2010

Dora Ann Hatch  |  2/1/2010 9:48:18 PM

Agritourism

Radish

Agritourism is 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. Because it blends entertainment and education, agritourism is also known as “agrientertainment,” “agritainment” or “agrotourism.”

 

Social Media Networking

Whether you are a farmer or a business based in a downtown area, you need to know and understand social networking. Social networking using Facebook and Twitter has advantages for people on a limited budget.

In the October, 2009 issue we highlighted Christmas tree farmers Sandy and Bentley Curry of Start. I asked the Curry’s who have just recently begun social networking to explain its benefits. This is what they had to say:

“Facebook has been a wonderful communication tool for Curry Farms, Inc. We asked friends to become our “fans” at Curry Farm, Inc. We also used Facebook to refer folks to www.curryfarms.net where they could book field trips and parties online. We gained lots of new customers and sold out of trees by December 8, 2009. Having high speed internet is important. Using Facebook is less time consuming than email. Many of our customers are on Facebook and have responded to our posts. It was certainly less costly than television ads, radio or direct mail.”

Making Money With What You Have

Sometimes it takes someone else’s appreciation of what we have to make us understand that we have something of value. Recently, I asked someone to describe their property. They began by saying they didn’t have much, just lots of pine trees with an occasional trail left by the pulpwood cutters and a cabin with a wood burning fireplace down by their pond.

They just described paradise for some travelers. Too often, we can’t see our potential.

I found a Web site in a recent Internet search that charged $150 a night for a cabin in the woods. If you could package that stay with hiking, bird watching and fishing you could charge more.

Before deciding your property has no potential, visit Web sites and see what others are offering. You might be surprised to learn you are sitting on a gold mine.

Check out these sites:

Haycation in the Catskills:

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/08/25/dining/1247464213652/my-summer-haycation.html

Farm tours and outdoor fun:

www.summersfarm.com/

Country adventures:

http://www.country-adventures.com/index.cfm

Ecology, fishing trips, etc.:

www.crystalcoastnc.org/activities

Plantation life:

http://www.frogmoreplantation.com

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival

The first annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival (YRARF) took place on two consecutive weekends: October 30-November 1 and November 6-7, 2009 in the parishes of Jefferson Davis, Cameron, and Calcasieu. The festival brought together birdwatchers and other environmental enthusiasts with southwestern Louisiana rice farmers to highlight the role of Louisiana’s working wetlands in bird conservation, and to provide recreational enjoyment for birders and possible economic opportunities for area farmers.

The festival was named for the Yellow Rail, a very secretive migratory waterbird species; cultivated rice is one of the Yellow Rail’s primary habitats in Louisiana during the non-breeding season (October to April) in the Gulf Coast region.

Yellow Rails Visible from Combine

combine

Because they are so secretive and difficult to see, Yellow Rails are highly sought after by many birdwatchers. The Southwestern Louisiana rice growing region is ideally suited for observing this otherwise difficult to find species: the region produces a substantial second crop of rice during the mid-late fall, the harvest of which coincides perfectly with the arrival of substantial numbers of Yellow Rails (as well as other rail species) from their northern breeding grounds during October-November.

Fields of maturing rice provide premium rail habitat, and the birds can be easily observed as they fly or run out of the path of the harvesting combines. Thus, the Yellow Rail is an excellent symbol representing the second rice harvest and its tremendous overall importance to birds.

The YRARF was free and open to the public thanks to the generous support of volunteers, partner organizations and private donors.

YRARF had the support of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Rice Growers Association, Jefferson Davis Parish Rice Growers Association, and USA Rice Federation, National Audubon Society, Baton Rouge Audubon Society, Louisiana Ornithological Society, Jefferson Davis Economic Development and Tourism Commission, and Decatur Street LLC. Employees of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U. S. Geological Survey were among the many volunteer facilitators helping participant’s spot rails.

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