Californians and California tourists love to get out of town to enjoy rural beauty and experience a taste of rural life. This often includes visiting California’s many farms and ranches that offer farm tours, farm stays, workshops, festivals, dinners, fruit picking and even barn dances. As interest and demand for agricultural tourism grows, so does interest among California farmers and ranchers in creating enjoyable and educational experiences to meet this demand and create a new income stream. However, entering the hospitality business involves overcoming many challenges.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has taken the lead in California for many years in helping farmers and ranchers learn and connect as they grow their agritourism enterprises, through programs and resources coordinated by the UC Small Farm Program, and currently by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the UC ANR Agriculture and Nature Tourism work group.
The site includes articles, work-sheets, checklists, guides, webinars, presentations, contacts and other materials created by UC ANR advisors and staff; presentations and handouts shared by agritourism stakeholders and educators at UC ANR agritourism workshops; and links to useful agritourism resources created by other universities and organizations. Materials on the site are organized by activity, by region, and by audience.
In addition to resources helpful for farmers and ranchers developing their own agritourism businesses, the website shares materials useful for agricultural educators, researchers, county and municipal staff and the tourism community in supporting agritourism development and regional agritourism promotion. One of the plans of the website creators is to include a clearinghouse of county planning documents and ordinances relating to agritourism, to make research a little bit easier for county planners and communities faced with updating regulations. Other sections of the website will be expanded over time as needs and interest dictate.
Poke around and see what you think. California Agritourism is still a work in progress. We’ll be adding more pictures, resources and links on an ongoing basis. If you have suggestions or materials to share or links you would like to see included on the site, or if you see things that need fixing, please email Penny at [email protected].
– Penny Leff, University of California