Agritourism can be a wonderful opportunity for farm entrepreneurs looking to grow their business and increase their bottom line. Loosely defined as any agricultural-based activity or event that brings visitors to the farm for an educational, entertaining, or enriching experience, agritourism helps foster a connection to food and the people who produce it.
It could be a farm tour, a farm-to-table dinner, an onsite farmers market, a holiday festival, apple picking, pumpkin carving, or cheesemaking demos. Really, the options are endless—and as diverse as each farmer, farmstead, and landscape.
Together Farms in Mondovi, Wisconsin, launched an agritourism business a few years ago, and its Burger Night and farm tours have become wildly popular. As owner Stephanie Schneider shares the latest Edible-Alpha® podcast, agritourism is now an indispensable—and growing—part of this diversified ag business.
While agritourism may not be the best fit for every farm, it’s definitely something to consider. Here are seven great reasons why.
1. Consumers crave these opportunities. Now more than ever, consumers want to know their farmer, understand how their food is produced, and support local businesses. Agritourism can facilitate all three through unique, unforgettable experiences.
2. You’re likely sitting on a gem. It’s common for farmers to focus on what looks rundown or needs improving around the farm and not recognize the beauty and intrigue that outsiders see. For years, Stephanie viewed Together Farms as “junky” and “nothing special.” But after visitors kept calling it “amazing” and “beautiful,” she realized they were right and decided to give agritourism a go.
3. Diversified business model. Subject to climate conditions and countless other variables, farming is a risky business, so it’s smart to develop multiple revenue streams. By launching agritourism, farm entrepreneurs can ensure they’ll have money coming in independent of their crops or animals.
4. Nice alternative to farmers markets. While farmers markets are great for chatting up consumers and building brand awareness, they can be a grind. Stephanie doesn’t love “standing in a hot parking lot” for hours, and many other farmers would agree. Agritourism provides a similar opportunity to meet folks face-to-face, create connections, and grow a business—but on the farmer’s turf and timetable.
5. Quick cash flow. Farmers don’t get paid right away (or even very quickly) for most of their labor, but agritourism revenue can be immediate cash-in-hand. These funds can help cash-flow other areas of the business.
6. VAPGs and other funding available. Agritourism is a form of value-adding, so USDA offers value-added producer grants (VAPGs) to help farm entrepreneurs launch and grow these enterprises. State and local governments often provide funds too, so farmers often don’t need to front the entire startup cost.
7. Build awareness and sales. Bringing people onto the farm is an excellent way to show off the food items produced there. This may be even how some consumers first learn of the farm’s products. Whether sales are incorporated directly into an event, such as an onsite farmers market, or products are just made available on the side, agritourism boosts awareness and ultimately revenue.
Stephanie and Andy Schneider planned on starting a hobby farm 10 years ago—they never anticipated the diversified agriculture business that Together Farms is today. Despite having no prior experience in farming, marketing, or restaurants, the Schneiders now raise grass-fed and pastured meats for direct-to-consumer sales and host Burger Night and farm tours onsite. Learn about the ups and downs and growth of their business they continue to learn, hone operations, and create efficiencies.
And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…
Business Model Insights
- The Cloud: Powering a New Approach to Digital Transformation in Food Manufacturing (Food Industry Executive)
- To transition their pandemic response into post-pandemic strategy, food companies should consider applying cloud solutions to single processes or entire manufacturing facilities with the greatest need or opportunity for improvement.
- Third-Party Delivery Apps Facing Uncertain Future (The Food Institute)
- How Manufacturers Can Build Resiliency (Food Manufacturing)
- The Role of Debt Financing in Fueling Regeneration (Regenerative Food Systems Investment News)
- Despite farmer skepticism about outside investment, funders increasingly want to direct their capital toward scaling regenerative agriculture by addressing barriers such as risk, technical assistance and new markets.
- USDA Lays Out Frameworks for Investing in a More Just and Resilient Food System (Regenerative Food Systems Investment News)
- Funding options shift, shrink as inflation rises, recession fears mount (FoodNavigator-USA)
- Brands need simple messaging to sell eco-social claims (New Hope Network)
- New research suggests consumers value eco-social claims—but those values falter in the face of complex issues.
- No, You’re Not Imagining It—Package Sizes Are Shrinking (Food Manufacturing)
- Getting closer: Influencers help brands build more personal consumer connections (Nielsen Insights)
- Where and what consumers buy shifts as they look to mitigate rising gas, food prices (FoodNavigator-USA)
- While supermarkets remain the go-to for most grocery shoppers, new research shows soaring food and fuel prices are pushing more consumers to mass, club and dollar stores as they try to reduce spending and store trips.
- Food-at-home prices in May up 11.9% from a year ago (Supermarket News)
- Gut Health, Fashion and ‘Phygital’ Solutions Among Top 2022 Food Trends (The Food Institute)
Farming and AgTech
- Montana Lentil Farmers Go Against the Grain to Build Thriving Organic Business (Civil Eats)
- Timeless Seeds’s “lentil underground” continues to grow, producing nutrient-dense specialty crops while regenerating Montana’s soils and rural communities.
- California transplant boosts Alabama’s organic farming scene (Organic Grower)
- Navigating the carbon markets (Successful Farming)
- Planet FWD secures $10M so consumer products industry can track carbon emissions (TechCrunch)
- Carbon-management technology platform helps CPG brands create climate-friendly products and operations by measuring, reducing and neutralizing emissions and reporting carbon footprint.
- Cleveland Kitchen acquires California’s Sonoma Brinery (New Hope Network)
- Dairyfood USA merges with Gilman Cheese under Borgman Capital deal (Just Food)
- Ipsos Summit: On the Menu: Where is the next growth for food and beverage? 6/22
- Rooted in Health: Investing at the Intersection of Regenerative Agriculture & Nutrition: 6/22–6/23
- WSJ Global Food Forum: 6/27–6/28
- FFI Farm Financial Management Bootcamp: 6/28–6/29
- Edible-Alpha® MVP Series Workshop: Financial & Accounting Processes: 7/7
- IFT First: Annual Event and Expo: 7/10–7/13 (hybrid event)
- Food Finance Institute July Quarterly Trends Talk: 7/11
- Edible-Alpha® Immersion Training: Managing Uncertainty: Scenario Planning: 9/19–9/29
- MOSES Organic Field Day: Adding Small-Scale Dairy Processing for Farm Diversity: 6/18 in Hager City, WI
- Ipsos Summit: On the Menu: Where is the next growth for food and beverage? 6/22 in Chicago, IL
- Midwest Renewable Energy Association Energy Fair: 6/24 –6/26 in Custer, WI
- WSJ Global Food Forum: 6/27–6/28 in Chicago, IL
- IFT First: Annual Event and Expo: 7/10–7/13 in Chicago, IL
- Organic Produce Summit: 7/13–7/14 in Monterey, CA
- Soil Health Academy School Regenerative Farming and Ranching: 7/18–7/20 in Redwood Falls, MN
- American Cheese Society Annual Conference: 7/20–7/23 in Portland, OR
- MOSES Organic Field Day: Crop Rotations on Large-Scale Organic Farm: 7/21 in Madison, SD
- Rodale Institute Organic Field Day: 7/22 in Kutztown, PA
- Digital Food & Beverage: 7/25–7/26 in Austin, TX
- Chicken Marketing Summit: 7/25–7/27 in Braselton, GA
- International Fresh Produce Association The Foodservice Conference: 7/28–7/29 in Monterey, CA
- Minnesota Farmfest: 8/2–8/4 in Redwood County, MN
- Soil Health Academy School: Increasing Profitability of Corn & Soybean Farms Through Diversity: 8/9–8/11 in Waverly, KS
- Dakotafest: 8/1–8/18 in Mitchell, SD
- National Pizza & Pasta Show: 8/23–8/25 in Rosemont, IL
- Farm Progress Show: 8/30–9/1 in Boone, IA
- Soil Health Academy School: Increased Profits Through Stacked Enterprises & Direct Marketing: 8/30–9/1 in Bismarck, ND
- Food Automation and Manufacturing Symposium and Expo: 9/11–9/14 in Miami, FL