Exploring Iowa Agritourism Ventures

Final report for ONC22-110

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2022: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Kendra Meyer
Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
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Project Information


Small farmers and acreage owners in Iowa are looking for opportunities to expand and diversify their operation. Agritourism has become an increasingly popular niche market that gives producers an opportunity to increase farm viability and connect with consumers. Opportunities to diversify small farms through agritourism include but are not limited to on-farm markets, fall festivals, u-picks, wineries, and on-farm dinners. This project will provide on-farm demonstrations from farmers with on-farm visitors to new or existing farmers with interest in expanding into agritourism. Financial sustainability through on-farm business and marketing, on-farm conservation practices, community engagement, and risk management best practices will be discussed by our partners.

Project Objectives:
  • Host a demonstration field trip tour with four smaller scale agritourism business owners in central Iowa to share experience and practical information with farmers and community members interested in agritourism. Education will include the benefits and challenges with financial sustainability markets, conservation practices and community engagement.
  • Bring together 40 small farmers, acreage owners, industry members and extension personnel to look at lower financial investment opportunities for development and growth in the agritourism industry.
  • Create networking opportunities for farmers and industry members to discuss on-farm marketing potential in Iowa.


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Involves research:
Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

96 Consultations
9 On-farm demonstrations
2 Published press articles, newsletters
2 Tours
9 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

55 Farmers participated
32 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

Progress Report 2/28/23, Year 1:

On August 31, 2023 the first Exploring Iowa Agritourism Ventures Bus Tour was held. The tour consisted of 4 farm stops where each of the educators shared about their operation and provided a tour for participants. There was 49 individuals who participated in the bus tour. During the travel time between farm stops Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Specialist provided a talk about food safety, legal risks, floriculture, and grant opportunities and educational resources. An evaluation was handed out at the conclusion of the tour for participants to provide feedback. We look forward to hosting a second Exploring Iowa Agritourism Ventures Bus Tour with 4 new educator partners in the summer 2023! 

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach News Release

Flyer: FFED43_Flyer

Farm videos

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Final Report 1/26/24, Year 2:

The second Exploring Iowa Agritourism Ventures Bus Tour was held on August 28, 2023 and had 5 farm stops. At each farm our educators engaged with the participants through on-farm demonstrations and discussions. The 2023 tour had 38 participants. Similar to year 1, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Specialists provided talks during the bus drive times to engage with the audience about food safety, legal risks, floriculture, vegetable production, grant opportunities and educational resources. At the conclusion of the tour each participant received an evaluation to provide feedback. Based on evaluation feedback, comments from participants and input from our partners, two checklists were created. These checklists are to be used as a guide to those interested in starting or enhancing their agritourism business to help think through best practices and licensing needs.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach New Release

Farm videos

Getting Started in Agritourism Checklist

Iowa Agritourism Business Start-up and Licensing Guide

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Learning Outcomes

45 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation

Project Outcomes

9 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

Progress Report 2/28/23:

In the first year of this project we had the opportunity to network, educate and inform bus tour participants on the opportunities for economic returns in agritourism. We also shared about environmental returns and on-farm sustainability practices each educator uses. Participants had great questions for the educators in learning more about their operation and practices and getting ideas to possibly implement on their farm and/or share with their business connections. Through agritourism the educators shared the social benefits they have experienced by opening their farm to visitors. These included community and public interaction and engagement as well as opportunity to share about agriculture and where consumers are getting their food. They each shared how adding agritourism and value-added agriculture to their farm has helped their farm become sustainable and how they have built on that over the years. We look forward to building off of this project for the second year and hosting a second Exploring Iowa Agritourism Ventures Bus Tour with 4 new educator partners in the summer 2023!

Final Report 1/26/2024:

For the second year of this project, we brought 5 new partners on board. One of our project partners works closely with their neighbor on agritourism events so they co-hosted the tour stop which gave another perspective for bus tour participants as well as another farm to visit. Our partners brought a variety of agritourism adventure types and experiences to the table. Alongside our partners we shared different opportunities in agritourism focusing on the benefits of diversifying your farm, financial sustainability, conservation practices, community engagement and risk management. Participants enjoyed the variety of farms and found it valuable to network with others on the tour. Evaluations showed interest in continued opportunities to visit farms and learn from the farmers. We are exploring opportunities to continue to offer on-farm educational opportunities.

Information Products

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.