7 Reasons to Launch an Agritourism Business

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.

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