The Louisiana Agritourism Connection January 2011

Dora Ann Hatch  |  1/6/2011 12:42:10 AM

Agritourism

Curry Farms

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.

In This Edition

Cold, wintry months are a great time to review business plans and marketing strategies and look for new ideas to expand existing operations. In this edition we will discuss online marketing, farm stays and MarketMaker and learn the hottest trends in restaurant menus that offer opportunities for farmers.

Marketing Your Agritourism Business Online

Americans are shopping online for everything, including places to go. If you are an agritourism operator and you have not bought into this idea, now is the time. Let’s begin by taking a survey:    

  • Do you have a website?
  • How many hits do you get a month?
  • When asked, do people say they have been to your website?
  • Do you have a Facebook fan page?
  • Are you using the fan page to drive people to your website for more information?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Do you regularly update your website, fan page and blog?
  • Are you listed on MarketMaker, the free producer-to-consumer online marketing tool.

If you don’t have a website, I suggest you work with a website designer and create one. Yes, you can do them yourselves, but a well-designed website can eliminate the need for additional marketing dollars.

Facebook fan pages and blogs are simple to create and can be used as marketing tools to direct people to your website. These I suggest you create and maintain yourself.

Agritourism Includes Farm Stays

One of the fastest-growing segments of agritourism is farm stays. People want to experience farm life on a real farm and talk and learn from those who farm. So, if you have an extra room within your house that provides some privacy or a cabin a few yards from your home, this could be the perfect place for guests to come and spend a few days while helping around the farm.

Recently in the September 2010 issue Southern Living magazine did a special feature in their travel section on secret farm hideaways. I want to share some of the information I found in that article about how agritourism operators are opening their working farms to guests.

Fickle Creek Farm owners Ben Bergmann and Noah Ranells, of Efland, N.C., sleep their guests in a studio apartment above a garage or give them the option of staying in their farmhouse. They market their farm to city people wanting to experience farm life and show their children where food comes from.

Steve and Marie Nygren, owners of Serenbe Farms in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., re-purposed their 1905 farmhouse into a charming bed & breakfast and also turned their horse barn into a place to house guests. They market their farm to travelers who want to experience the taste of fresh produce; it’s a farm-to-table experience.



Farm Stays in Louisiana

Cottage on the Farm in Vacherie offers an opportunity for guests to fish or catch crawfish.Their beautiful cottage has two bedrooms and could be a perfect getaway to share with family or friends.

Splendor Farms in Bush has bed & breakfast accommodations. While staying on the farm, guests can also ride horses, hike, fish, canoe and tube. They also have cows, goats, chickens and horses.

The Ranch House Bed and Breakfast in Winnsboro is located on a working cattle ranch and gives you the illusion you’re one of the wranglers in the bunkhouse. Wranglers can be seen roping in the nearby rodeo area, or you can just kick back and enjoy your surroundings on the big front porch.

Websites Listing Farm Stays

Check out these websites for farm stays:

www.farmstayus.com

www.wwoofusa.org

www.ruralbounty.com

http://la.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/main/index

If you have a farm stay; submit your operation. Most are free, and it pays to be listed on all sites.

Restaurant Food Trends for 2011

There is good news for farmers markets, roadside stands and local farm stores. More than 1,500 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation were surveyed to find the hot trends for restaurant menus in 2011. Among the top trends is using locally grown food. For more information, log on to: www.restaurant.org/foodtrends

MarketMaker

MarketMaker is an online tool that connects producers and consumers. More than 150 Louisiana producers are registered, along with 145 farmers markets and roadside stands. The website also can be useful for consumers, including individuals, restaurants and retail stores, who are seeking produce, meat, dairy products, seafood, farmers markets, roadside stands, grocery stores and restaurants.

It serves as a central clearinghouse for locating agricultural and seafood products in Louisiana.

The site is free! So click here and check it out.

Webinars for Online Learning

 Webinars are mini-courses online. Depending on the origin of the webinar, you might be asked to download software to participate. Some webinars cost, while some are free. Recently I participated in two from Eckert Agrimarketing that I recommend to my readers. They are now archived so you can view them but not ask questions during the presentation. The two I enjoyed were entitled: “Marketing to Today’s Consumers” and “Top Ten Ways to Grow Your Business.”

Go to Eckert Agrimarketing and learn how you can participate.

Mississippi Agritourism Association Meets in January

The Mississippi Agritourism Association will meet on January 13-14, 2011, at the Natchez Convention Center in Natchez, Miss. They will accept registration fees at the door. For more information click here. 

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