Development of Extension Programming to Support the Advancement of Agritourism in the Northeast

Project Overview

ENE11-121
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $112,616.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. Brian Schilling
Rutgers University

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, agritourism

    Proposal abstract:

    Agritourism is the business of establishing farms as travel destinations for educational and recreational purposes. It encompasses a variety of on-farm activities, including direct marketing, educational activities, entertainment, outdoor recreation, and accommodations. It is an important method of marketing that allows farmers to supplement farm income as well as improve their relationship with the local community. For many farmers, however, agritourism is an entirely new business model, necessitating a shift from a production-centric focus to service and hospitality. It is the goal of this project to provide the resources and training to agricultural educators needed to assist Northeast farmers with the successful development of agritourism enterprises.

    This project convenes a multistate team to develop and deliver train-the-trainer educational resources to agricultural educators and service providers in order to assist Northeast farmers in (1) mitigating financial risk through accurate enterprise budgeting, (2) minimizing risk and liability associated with farm visitations, and (3) improving marketing strategies. Guided by a Project Advisory Committee and a farmer needs assessment survey, the project team will develop several educational resources including an online, interactive financial calculator; a self-assessment tool for farmers to evaluate their marketing and risk management strategies; a series of educational video segments on Avoiding On-Farm Hazards; and, fact sheets on best practices in agritourism liability management and marketing, and enterprise budgeting.

    A multi-tiered delivery system will be employed to maximize the extent and impact of training delivery across the Northeast region. First, State Coordinators (representing New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware) will organize a total of ten training workshops for agricultural educators to gain proficiency with educational resources and materials. Each workshop will include a
    "farm practicum", a 90-minute farm visit allowing participants to evaluate farm safety from the standpoint of visitors, as well as elements of the enterprise’s marketing strategies. Second, the project team will moderate a three-part webinar series to train agricultural educators on the use of the agritourism educational toolkit and provide interaction with agritourism operators through "experience sharing" sessions. Webinars will be marketed to Extension educators and other agricultural service professionals within the Northeast SARE region. Third, each webinar will be recorded. Webinar recordings and all educational resources will be hosted on a dedicated Agritourism Development page within the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Sustainable Agriculture website. Notification of the electronic availability of the webinars and agritourism toolkits will be disseminated through Cooperative Extension and associated professional and industry networks.

    The direct beneficiaries of this project will be agricultural educators. Sixty educators will participate in the workshops and another sixty educators will obtain training through live webinars. A carefully crafted set of project milestones and a project verification plan will guide the project team toward its ultimate performance target, which is to ensure that 30 agricultural educators will utilize training from this project to develop and deliver outreach programs to Northeast farmers, leading 200 farmers to develop or revise marketing strategies to increase agritourism revenues or adopt new risk and liability management strategies to improve farm safety.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    The goal of this project is to provide training and educational resources to Extension personnel and other agricultural educators in the Northeast needed to assist clientele with the development and marketing of safe, risk-managed agritourism operations. However, to evaluate the efficacy of this training, the ultimate anticipated impact on farm viability in the region needs to be benchmarked.

    Our performance target is: thirty (30) agricultural educators will utilize training from this project to develop and deliver outreach programs to Northeast farmers, leading 200 farmers to develop or revise marketing strategies to increase agritourism revenues or adopt new risk and liability management strategies to improve farm safety.

    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.