Agritourism a Growing Attraction
Call it agricultural tourism, agritourism, or entertainment farming. Regardless, it's the fastest-growing segment of the tourism industry in the United States.
"Agritourism covers a lot of ground," said Roy Ballard, Purdue University Extension educator in Floyd County and member of the Indiana Agritourism Committee. "Farm tours, wineries, corn mazes, hayrides, farmer's markets, U-pick farms, horticulture operations, bed and breakfasts, and hunting leases are just a few of the possibilities."
According to a 2004 survey commissioned by the state, Indiana is ripe with opportunity for agritourism, due to the proximity of large non-farm populations to most rural areas.
To help farmers and other rural landowners determine if agritourism is right for them, Purdue Extension is partnering with Indiana agriculture and tourism agencies in a statewide initiative to capitalize on the growing market.
Why Ag-Related Venues Are Travel Destinations
- Appeal of the natural environment
- Desire for inexpensive activities close to home
- Interest in family learning opportunities
Indiana took two big steps toward this goal last year when the General Assembly passed legislation to support development and marketing of agritourism and the Indiana Agritourism Committee secured a $70,000 federal grant to implement educational programs.
Ballard, who co-wrote the grant proposal, said the program brings together state and local educators from agriculture and natural resources, economic development, small business and rural development councils, and tourism. The grant supports the following activities:
- Six regional training workshops for agritourism educators
- An agritourism workshop at the 2006 Indiana Horticultural Congress
- NX Level agricultural entrepreneur training for producers
- An Indiana rural resource guide
These programs will help Indiana entrepreneurs evaluate both the possibilities and perils of starting an agritourism venture, said Ballard.