Ever been to a pumpkin patch? Picked flowers straight from the garden? Payed to visit some farm animals? Then you have participated in Agritourism! The National Agricultural Library at the USDA defines agritourism as “a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism in order to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors and generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.”
Farmers and growers alike often use agritourism to do many different things that can help them be successful. Often it is added to a growing operation as a way of teaching the community about their growing operation as well as options that they grow locally for them to purchase. It can also be added as a way of gaining extra income to help through the growing time or uncertain harvests for many growers. Overall though, most add agritourism as they want to connect to the community and develop a strong sense of togetherness between the community and their operation.
Here around Alaska you can help out your local farmers and farms by taking advantage of these agritourism opportunities. Often you will find events advertised on Facebook or in the community events circular for the area. These tend to be for the single event type of farms or the seasonal events. There are also aspects of agritourism in farmers markets and agricultural event days that might be hosted by the community so that many small operation farmers can showcase their production to a large number of people without having to host them at their farm. If you are wanting to do a more in-depth type of tour, where you will be able to learn more about how they grow and ask questions you can visit a local agritourism company that has partnered with local growers to set up working farm tours. In Alaska there is currently only one operation with this format, the Alaska Farm Tours which has tours around the Palmer and Talkeetna farm areas. They include food, drinks, and a visit of at least 3 farms in the area.
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