Final report for EW17-012

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $73,010.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of California
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
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Project Information

Abstract:
California small-scale agricultural producers, due to lack of economies of scale, need to add value to their production activities to maintain the economic viability of their farms and ranches. As public interest in local food and sustainable farming practices increases, a growing number of producers are considering diversifying with agritourism operations. Agritourism operations are most successful as part
of a supportive community that includes tourism professionals, county regulators, agricultural educators and other agritourism operators. This project will provide training, resources and peer support to committed agricultural educators (including NRCS and RCD), government staff, agritourism association leaders and tourism professionals as they train producers in agritourism and develop supportive agritourism communities. Fifty participants, including 24 selected agricultural educators (12 in each region) who commit to offering workshops or other agritourism education for producers, will be invited to participate in the intensive two-day workshops, and will be provided curricula and follow-up support as they share the knowledge, skills and tools with their clients and communities. The workshops and
farm tours will feature intimate discussions with experienced agritourism operators and agritourism trainers. Tools and resources created through this project will include activity-specific agritourism planning guides, California-oriented issue presentations for educators adapted from the Training Modules of the Extension Training for Agritourism Development project published online by Rutgers University Extension, and a directory of California agritourism support resources and organizations. The project will result in increased agritourism training opportunities and resources for California producers and an increase in the number of agritourism supportive communities.
 
Project Objectives:

Goals and Objectives:
The long-term goal of this project is the development of twenty clusters of profitable California agritourism operations that sustain producers and educate visitors about sustainable agriculture, are supported by the local agricultural and tourism communities, and contribute to the economic development of their communities.  Specific short-term project objectives are:

  1. Increased confidence among 50 project participants in their ability to train and support producers in developing and promoting profitable agritourism operations by the end of the workshops.
  2. At least ten project participants will begin organizing agritourism planning workshops for producers in their communities by the end of the project.
  3. At least 30 project participants will participate in organizing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities by the end of the project timeline.
  4. At least 50 agricultural educators will increase their understanding of the opportunities and challenges of agritourism by downloading California agritourism issues presentations by the end of the project.
  5. At least 100 agricultural producers will download agritourism activity-specific planning guides and budget templates by the end of the project.

Medium-term objectives (one year after the end of the project) are:

  1. 200 California agricultural producers will participate in agritourism planning workshops organized by project participants
  2. At least twenty project participants will report being involved in ongoing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities.
  3. At least ten additional California agricultural educators or support professionals will begin organizing agritourism planning workshops for producers, using project-produced materials.
  4. At least 500 agricultural producers will download agritourism activity-specific planning guides and budget templates.

Long-term objectives (two to four years after the end of the project) are:

  1. 12 California counties, within the past four years, will have revised zoning ordinances to ease entry by agricultural producers into the agritourism industry.
  2. 300 California farmers or ranchers will have started agritourism operations within the past four years
  3. 30 California visitors bureaus will have increased promotion of regional agritourism operations and report increased public interest in agritourism activities.
  4. 10 new producer-based agritourism associations will be thriving, each with at least seven farmers or ranchers offering profitable agritourism activities, an internet marketing program, and support from local economic development and tourism professionals
  5. California agritourism operators will report average annual growth rates of ten percent in both agritourism revenues and numbers of visitors.
  6. Agritourism will be commonly understood among the California public to mean pleasurable and educational activities on California farms and ranches that helps sustain agricultural communities.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Karen Giovannini (Educator)
  • Tom Purciel (Educator)
  • Tiffany Dozier (Educator)
  • Cindy Fake (Educator)
  • Barbara Archer (Educator)
  • Jeff Main (Educator)
  • Jenna Muller (Educator)
  • Charles Offer (Educator)
  • Alicia Wolff (Educator)
  • Jerome Stehly (Educator)
  • Shannon Robinson (Educator)
  • Joseph Molina (Educator)
  • Kimberly Adams (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

This project aims to increase the knowledge, skills and resources of agricultural and tourism professionals in providing useful guidance and support for California farmers and ranchers who seek to diversify their production operations with agritourism enterprises. The following educational approach is being used:

  • Two-day workshops for invited agricultural educators, agricultural professionals, tourism professionals and agritourism association leaders in each of two California regions that already have robust agritourism communities
    • Invitations to apply for workshop participation were sent to a broad list of UC Coooperative Extension farm advisors, agritourism association leaders, tourism professionals, Farm Bureau leaders, Resource Conservation District and NRCS staff, and others already involved in California agritourism. 
    • Newsletter invitation to apply for workshop participation, Yolo County
    • Newsletter invitation to apply for workshop participation, San Diego County
    • Workshop participants were selected based on their commitment or intent to organize workshops or other support activities for agritourism development in their regions, as expressed in their application to participate in the workshops
    • Each two-day workshop included:
      • Day 1 – bus tours of 3 or 4 agritourism operations of various scales, including discussion with the agritourism operators at each site about the challenges of setting up the operation, including discussion of financial goals, regulations, liability concerns, community involvement and plans for the future.
      • Day 2 – classroom style full day workshop with presentations and discussions led by agricultural educators and tourism professionals about aspects of agritourism training for farmers, in-class small-group and full-group discussions about plans for agritourism training and support activities, completion by each participant of a six-month action plan detailing steps to be taken to begin planning agritourism training and support activities
  • On-line sharing of workshop presentations and other resources for agritourism education, including agritourism education materials created by other states’ university extension programs: Teaching and Supporting Agritourism – Workshops and Resources
  • Creation and sharing of new activity-specific guides to assist farmers and farmer-educators in the establishment of common agritourism businesses, including U-Pick operations, farm tours, farm dinners, farm festivals, farm stays and on-farm classes.
  • Regular communication among workshop participants through the use of a private Facebook group set up and moderated by the project manager
  • Follow-up consultation and evaluation of action plan success with all workshop participants by project manager several months after each workshop.

 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Yolo County "Teaching and Supporting Agritourism" workshop Nov 14-15, 2017, San Diego workshop planned for Jan. 22-23, 2018
Objective:

Increase the understanding, skills and resources for agricultural educators, agricultural professionals, tourism professionals and others involved in California agritourism in training and supporting farmers and ranchers as they develop successful agritourism operations.

Description:

Yolo-Co-PDP-workshop-agenda-2017

San Diego County PDP workshop agenda 2018

In November, 2017 we offered the Yolo County agritourism professional development workshop to 23 of 25 invited participants, after wide promotion of the invitation to apply for participation in the workshop. At the end of the workshop, 17 participants completed six-month action plans expressing their intention to use project education and resources to teach or otherwise support farmers and ranchers in developing and promoting agritourism businesses.

In January 2018 we offered the San Diego County agritourism professional development workshop, with 26 invited participants, after wide promotion of the invitation to apply for participation in the workshop. At the end of the workshop, 10 participants completed six-month action plans expressing their intention to use project education and resources to teach or otherwise support farmers and ranchers in developing and promoting agritourism businesses.

Yolo-Co.-PDP-workshop-6-month-action-plan-form

All workshop presentations and materials and links to agritourism educator resources created by UC Cooperative Extension, UC Small Farm Program, Rutgers University Extension and others  have been posted online on the UC SAREP’s website “Teaching and Supporting Agritourism” page

We have completed interviews with experienced agritourism operators, conducted a review of existing educational materials, completed and published online six activity-based agritourism planning guides, to be used as educational resources by farmers and agritourism educators.

These guides were shared with more than 3000 people involved in California agritourism through regular email newsletters. Here is an example of one of the newsletters: November 2018

In June and July 2018, about 6 months after the completion of the two workshops, the project manager reached out to 47 of the 49 workshop participants, by email and telephone to inquire about workshop impacts and agritourism education and/or support activities resulting from workshop participation. We received response from 34 participants. The details of their agritourism education and support activities resulting from this project are reported below.

Outcomes and impacts:

Yolo County “Teaching and Supporting Agritourism” workshop
Pre/post assessment and Evaluation Summary

The Yolo County Agritourism Professional Development workshop, held Nov. 14 – 15 in Woodland California, was attended by 23 of 25 invited participants. Of the 23 participants, 20 completed and turned in an evaluation form at the end of Day 2, for a response rate of 87 percent.

Who were participants (respondents only)? – multiple answers to the question allowed

Farmer or rancher                       11

Current agritourism operator         4

Agritourism association rep.           6

Agricultural association rep.           6

Agricultural educator                     7

Tourism professional                      5

Hospitality professional                   4

Mean Values: Participants’ rating of their knowledge before and after workshop

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 = having little or no knowledge, and 5 = extremely knowledgeable

Topic

Level of knowledge before workshop (mean)

Level of knowledge after workshop (mean)

Change in level of knowledge (mean)

Assessing a farm/ranch for agritourism potential

2.88

4.31

1.44

Liability issues and management strategies for agritourism

2.27

4.00

1.73

Navigating permits & regulations for agritourism

2.29

3.82

1.53

Connecting agritourism with regional tourism

2.50

4.50

2.00

Teaching agritourism business planning to farmers

2.00

3.79

1.79

Agritourism marketing strategy and methods

2.81

4.31

1.50

San Diego County “Teaching and Supporting Agritourism” workshop
Pre/post assessment and Evaluation Summary

The San Diego County Agritourism Professional Development workshop, held Jan. 22 – 23, 2018 in Woodland California, was attended by 26 invited participants. Of the 26 participants, 19 completed and turned in an evaluation form at the end of Day 2, for a response rate of 73 percent.

Who were participants (respondents only)? – multiple answers to the question allowed

Farmer or rancher                        9

Current agritourism operator         2

Agritourism association rep.           3

Agricultural association rep            5

Agricultural educator                     10

Tourism professional                      3

Hospitality professional                   0

Mean Values: Participants’ rating of their knowledge before and after workshop

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 = having little or no knowledge, and 5 = extremely knowledgeable

Topic

Level of knowledge before workshop (mean)

Level of knowledge after workshop (mean)

Change in level of knowledge (mean)

Assessing a farm/ranch for agritourism potential

3.00

4.37

1.37

Liability issues and management strategies for agritourism

2.21

4.11

1.89

Navigating permits & regulations for agritourism

1.94

3.78

1.83

Connecting agritourism with regional tourism

2.32

4.11

1.79

Teaching agritourism business planning to farmers

2.26

3.74

1.47

Agritourism marketing strategy and methods

2.74

4.21

1.47

Educational & Outreach Activities

6 On-farm demonstrations
5 Published press articles, newsletters
2 Tours
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

9 Extension
1 NRCS
16 Nonprofit
4 Agency
10 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
11 Farmers/ranchers
2 Others

Learning Outcomes

49 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
27 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

2 Grants received that built upon this project
10 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

As a result of this project, agricultural service provider participants have been active in their communities collaborating with new partners, organizing educational workshops for producers, organizing agritourism producer associations and collaborative public events and increasing their involvement in marketing agritourism to the public. Many producers have used project-created materials.

34 workshop participants, out of a total of 49 participants asked, responded to phone calls from the project manager or a follow-up survey about their agritourism training or support involvement about six months after the end of the workshops. Of those responding, 10 workshop participants reported organizing agritourism workshops or training sessions for farmers and ranchers, with as many as 300 producers participating. 21 workshop participants reported participating in organizing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities, and 24 participants reported being involved in ongoing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities.

Agritourism training
At least 10 workshop participants have organized or collaborated in organizing agritourism planning workshops or educational presentations for producers in their communities since the project workshops, using lessons and materials shared by the project. These educational events included workshops for urban farmers in West Sacramento, for potential agritourism operators in Nevada County, Modoc County, Solano County, San Diego County and Riverside County, classes for Santa Rosa Junior College sustainable agriculture students in Sonoma County, and field days for high school students in San Diego County. Organizers of these educational events estimate they have reached at least 300 producers or agricultural students.

Agritourism association and collaborative event development
Workshop participants from at least 4 different counties have been actively engaged since the workshop on collaborative agritourism association development. Three workshop participants from Nevada County organized the first annual Nevada County Farm Trails weekend for the public, involving 14 farms in the event. Workshop participants from Solano County, including a farmer and the director of the county tourism bureau, have helped producers in their region establish an agritourism association, organized an initial open farm day, and created a website, map and marketing plan for the Vacaville group. They are also cross-promoting with another Solano County agritourism group, the Susisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association, that is led by another workshop participant. An agricultural educator from Yolo County collaborated with a local distributor and a bicycle advocacy group to organize a bicycle tour of beginning urban farmer sites, training the farmer/participants in giving tours and providing tastings. Another Yolo County participant organized the first Capay Valley Wine Stroll. A workshop participant from San Diego County, a tour leader by profession, is working with the Antelope Valley Vintner Association to design, promote and implement tours, involving 10 good-size wineries eager to get into agritourism.

Use of agritourism training materials
The project webpage, hosting workshop presentations, handouts and resources for teaching and supporting agritourism, has been visited 1284 times by 381 unique individuals. In addition, guides to planning specific agritourism activities, created by this project, were downloaded 318 times from email newsletter links.

34 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
300 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

This project was targeted toward agricultural support professionals, including consultants, tour organizers and marketing professionals. Several workshop participants are involved in public education and advocacy projects that were enriched by the project.

One project participant is a consultant for the developer of an “agrihood” project, and has used what she learned through this project to educate on the development of agrihoods as an opportunity for agritourism collaborations. She has been engaged in collaborative efforts to help educate and advocate for agritourism development in Ramona and Oceanside, northern San Diego County.

Several project participants, staff at UC Cooperative Extension San Diego, are developing a website/interactive story map that will allow people to find San Diego agritourism activities and for businesses to promote themselves. One says, “Loved the workshop. It was a great experience and greatly educational for me as I had not experienced any agritourism before this. It gave me a good perspective and understanding on how to promote these activities better. I enjoyed the insight shared from the farmers themselves. Thank you again for allow me and my team to join the tour, it was very beneficial for us all!” The San Diego website project is still in production as of this writing.

A marketing professional who attended the workshop says this: As a result of the workshop, I produced an episode of A Growing Passion on San Diego’s Farm to Fork/Farm to Table movement.  You can see it here:  http://agrowingpassion.com/episode-604-from-farm-to-fork/

Success stories:

From an Extension educator in Modoc County: “We had a great tour this past weekend with the Modoc County Cattlemen and Women. We toured a couple cattle related stops and then showcased Stringer’s wild plum winery and distillery for our BBQ. It was the 2nd event Stringer’s has ever hosted and I think now they are interested in expanding their agritourism options further outside of just retail sales. A fair amount of resources and conversations from our local office to get things rolling but I am thrilled that it all worked out. A great opportunity for Modoc County.”

From a community college educator in Sonoma County: “As I craft and update my own classroom powerpoint slide shows I will include topics I found useful in some of the powerpoints presented during the workshop in Woodland. I will isolate some agritourism activities for new/beginning farmers, and other more advanced tourism enterprises that may be hiring for certain roles at larger, more established farms. We build career technical skills at the Jr. College, therefore being knowledgeable about the breadth of agritourism variations can lead to employment opportunities.”

From a Riverside County agricultural lending professional: “I continue to support industry groups/events geared toward operations with agritourism components through event sponsorships or other participation, participate with local food system support organizations including the LA Food Policy Council, Riverside Food System Alliance, and San Diego Food System Alliance that work toward policies favoring U-Pick or public access to locally-grown products.”

From a Nevada County farmer and agritourism association leader: “The workshop you provided was a great way for us to get direction on what agritourism can do for our county. Our biggest hurdle is our county. We did get new ordinances passed this year, but it is still a long way from being ideal. Still much work ahead!”

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.