Agritourism workshop set for May 10 in DeSoto Parish

Keachi Farms Pond

A fishing pond is just one of the outdoor opportunities at Keachi Farms, an agritourism destination in DeSoto Parish. (Photo provided)

Marynesbitt Keachi

Mary Nesbitt, owner of Keachi Acres in DeSoto Parish, hosts “Wwoof’ers” like Patrick LaRussa of Syracuse, New York, through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program. (Photo provided)

(03/08/16) HOMER, La. – Landowners who would like to explore the possibility of starting an agritourism destination can learn more at a workshop on May 10 in Keachi, Louisiana.

Agritourism is a blossoming business in Louisiana, said LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator Dora Ann Hatch. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, agritourism operators in Louisiana more than doubled from 2007 to 2012, showing a 112 percent increase.

The workshop is a collaborative effort between the LSU AgCenter agritourism program and the Mississippi State University Natural Resource Enterprises Program.

“Attendance at this workshop will provide a broad overview of agritourism and show how others are earning additional income on agriculture land, recreational land or timberland by providing fun experiences to visitors,” Hatch said.

The workshop will be held at Keachi Farms in DeSoto Parish. Mary Nesbitt and her late husband, Tom, developed the 200-acre tract to share with anyone with a desire to get close to nature or learn more about agriculture.

The acreage includes forested areas, trails, fishing, horseback riding, bug and insect collecting, and gardening, said Nesbitt, owner of the Nesbitt Day Camp and Keachi Farms.

This workshop could be particularly helpful to those who’ve inherited farmland or timberland and don’t see themselves as traditional farmers, but they want to keep the land in the family, Hatch said.

“They could offer tours for school children, hunting opportunities or even a bed and breakfast stay. The opportunities are numerous,” she said. “All those outdoor activities are extremely popular and can provide some extra income to the landowner.”

Workshop registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with presentations starting at 9. Topics will include agritourism liability, recreational enterprises, direct marketing of food, starting a bed and breakfast, and developing nature trails, according to Jessica Rahim, of Mississippi State University.

Participants also can learn about the Louisiana Natural Areas Registry program.

The cost of the workshop is $20 per person or $30 per couple. More information is available online at www.lsuagcenter.com and typing agritourism in the search box, and atwildlifeworkshop.msstate.edu.

Keachi Acres is located at 9192 La. Highway 5 in Keachi, Louisiana (also spelled Keatchi on navigation devices).

3/8/2016 10:02:46 PM
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