Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Secretary Ross Scheduled to Join Conference Promoting Agritourism

It’s a new crop for Central Valley farmers and ranchers – tourists.

With interest growing in the fledgling industry of bringing tourists to farm and ranch operations regularly, workshops are now scheduled, aimed not just at those who have the land but those who also benefit from increased tourism such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and more.

“The goal is to get entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs who have thought about doing or starting businesses within the ag or nature fields the resources that they would need to be successful,” says Brittany Dyer, program developer with the Yosemite/Sequoia Resource Conservation and Development Council in North Fork, which is sponsoring the Agriculture and Nature Tourism Workshop.

“The workshop is concentrating on working models,” says Ms. Dyer. “This workshop gives you from start to finish what you need to do.”

The full-day, free, workshop is scheduled for Nov. 10 at the Tulare County Board of Supervisors chambers in Visalia. Follow-up farm tours are scheduled for Nov. 15 in Tulare County and on Nov. 17 in Fresno County, Ms. Dyer says.

Meanwhile the University of California Cooperative Extension and the UC small farm program are planning their own agritourism statewide summit, to be held Nov.4 in Stockton at the Robert Cabral Agricultural Center near the Stockton Metropolitan Airport.Both conferences will offer the chance for farm trails groups and others involved in California agritourism to share tools and strategies for supporting California farmers and ranchers in developing successful agritourism operations to meet the growing demand for local food and authentic agricultural experiences.While California agritourism has so far been primarily organized at the county and regional level, other states have organized statewide agritourism associations. At the November summit in Stockton, experts will help participants explore the relationships and benefits involved in both statewide and local/regional agritourism programs.“We look forward to talking with other California agritourism organizers,” says Tim Neuharth, pear grower and founding member of the new Sacramento River-Delta Grown Agritourism Association. “People from Apple Hill, Sonoma County Farm Trails and Sacramento County Farm Bureau have been very kind in helping us set up our organization. We have big plans for our fledgling group of Sacramento River Delta growers.”Speakers scheduled include Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Martha Glass, executive director of North Carolina’s highly successful Agritourism Networking Association; and representatives from the Apple Hill Growers Association.

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