Agritourism — we should all visit farms

Agritourism is tourism that involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. It of course comes from the term ‘agriculture’. This is the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. (Hayley Stainton).

A further definition of agritourism by the North Carolina Agritourism Activity Liability Law states that it is: Any activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities, or natural activities and attractions.
It doesn’t necessarily have to include travelling abroad. A simple visit to a petting zoo or local farm definitely counts as agritourism!

Agritourism is a type of tourism that is increasing around the world. With the increasing popularity of niche tourism, coupled with a growth in the desire to make our travels more sustainable, it is no surprise that the agritourism industry has grown significantly in the last few years.

Agritourism is a type of experiential travel. It involves doing something on your trip or holiday, and therefore experiencing the country or destination more so (and more deeply) then if you simply visited on a relaxing holiday. More specifically, agritourism involves doing something that is related in some way to agriculture.

Here are a few examples.
  1. Wine/vineyard tours
  2. Glamping/camping
  3. Quad biking
  4. Horse riding
  5. Fruit/flower picking
  6. Animal farms parks/safari parks
  7. Wwoofing
  8. Staying in a home located on a farm
  9. Farm tours
  10. Educational visits
  11. Relaxation retreats
  12. Hunting trips
  13. Rural weddings/events
  14. Farmer’s markets
  15. Corn Mazes
  16. Bird and wildlife watching
  17. Nature centers

Agritourism comes with economic benefits for travelers and for other tourism stakeholders (farmers, ranch owners and so on). Scholars argue that it is In fact necessary for the survival of some small farms. It diversifies farmers’ income streams, meaning they are able to make money outside of their regular season. When farmers offer agritourism opportunities,  surrounding areas and local communities see an increase in people visiting or passing through. This of course means an economic boost for rural areas and is an example of a positive economic impact of tourism!

Types of Agritourism

There are typically 5 types of agritourism. The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development labelled these as:

Direct-to-consumer sales
This includes farm stands and ‘pick your own’ experiences. A farm stand is, as the name suggests, somewhere you can visit to buy produce directly from a farm. A farmers’ market is similar to this. Farms also often have shops attached to them, selling produce as well as items from local crafters, makers and more. Farms also often have shops attached to them, selling produce as well as items from local crafters, makers and more. A good example is Ope Farms in Abeokuta, they attend Farmers market around Dolphin estate, Lagos Nigeria and they have retail outlets as well.

Farmers Market

Agricultural education
School trips to local farms fall under this category of agritourism. You might also, as an adult, visit a farm and enjoy a guided tour where a farmer or farm assistant explains different aspects of the farming industry to you. This would be a type of agritourism as well as a type of educational tourism, although it is just a small part of agricultural education as a whole. A great example of an operator in this space is Highsoles Farm Tours, operating as Farmtour2016 on Instagram.

Hospitality
In terms of agritourism as proper tourism, e.g. something which involves travelling outside of your hometown for a holiday, this category is where it starts. From family-friendly interactive farms to relaxing adult only retreats complete with hot tubs, there are various different farm stay options across the world.

WWOOF, or the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, facilitate this globally. They connect travelers with farmers, and you can have a really affordable holiday this way. As long as you’re prepared to put the work in, that is! There are farms you can work on in Mexico, Portugal, Serbia, Myanmar and so many more incredible locations. We also have a great example in Abuja Nigeria – Almat Farms positions itself as a leisure and corporate getaway destination that allows you time away from all the bustling noise of the city life to relax, refresh and renew yourself.

Recreation
Hunting, horseback riding, meeting donkeys on the seafront… all of these are recreational types of agritourism. Whether you go on an organised hunt in a rural location or choose to ride a horse across the desert, these are types of agritourism. Hunting doesn’t just mean animals, either; you could go truffle hunting! Horseback riding is also something that is offered worldwide as a fairly standard tourist activity. Amlat Farms in Abuja also offers equestrian services.

Horse riding at Almat Farms Abuja, Nigeria

Entertainment
The final type of agritourism is entertainment. Although the above categories are entertaining in themselves, this is slightly different. The entertainment category includes hay rides, which are popular in the US especially and involve a hay-lined truck or tractor ride. Corn Festivals are also popular globally with 70 years plus of history. In 2020, a tour company named Travel Begins at Home also started the “Naija Corn Festival” as an Agritourism event to celebrate the versatility of Corn, educate Nigerians about Agritourism and increase youth participation in Farming.


Advantages of Agrotourism
Agritourism is a fantastic way for farmers to diversify their income and to make some extra cash. With increasing issues such as droughts or increased competition, farmers are often susceptible to financial loss should they have a bad season. However, agritourism can be a great way to compensate for this!

Disadvantages of Agritourism
Agritourism can have its disadvantages also. Tourists visiting farmland may have negative environmental consequences– trampling the ground or by frightening/displacing local wildlife. The introduction of agritourism can also take the attention away from traditional farm work.

Over dependence on tourism is a bit problem in many parts of the world, and it is important that farm owners do not entirely abandon their traditional methods of making money… because should something happen to discourage tourists from visiting (an illness, political unrest, a natural disaster etc.) then there would be no money coming in for the farmers. And if he has abandoned his primary assignment there will be trouble as crops don’t sprout and mature overnight save for Aaron’s rod.

After all has been said and done, Agritourism has come to stay and the earlier we adopt it mainstream the better for our nation. Then we can maximize the vast land mass we have and put sustainable food security measures in place.

According to Schumacher, “I am now fully convinced that farming and tourism create synergies, where the natural beauty of the region, its cultural richness and vibrant communities can blend with farm activities, especially when a variety of farm products are grown, and the emphasis is on biointensive farming and biodiversity”. (Henry J. Schumacher 2017)

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