Enterprise, Environmental and Community Development to Promote Agricultural and Heritage Tourism

2008 Annual Report for EW07-008

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $59,973.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Martha Sullins
Colorado State University
Dawn Thilmany
Colorado State University
Andrew Seidl
Colorado State University

Enterprise, Environmental and Community Development to Promote Agricultural and Heritage Tourism


The second year of this project has included a significant emphasis on outreach based on: 1) the consumer survey (conducted under a USDA-FSMIP grant); 2) the curriculum we developed that is targeted at professional staff and their target clients throughout Colorado; and 3) working with communities to develop their agritourism potential. The activities and accomplishments for the calendar year 2008 are summarized according to the project timeline for 2008.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. Performance Targets that are addressed in this year’s work include:
    1) The project’s producer-mentors will establish 10 relationships with producers seeking to build new enterprises or expand existing ones, to guide them in evaluating and growing their operations and customer bases.
    2) By attending the workshops, 60 agricultural professionals (Cooperative Extension, NRCS and RC&D staff), as well as associated professionals (i.e., economic development staff), will learn to advise agricultural producers on building a service-based business, attracting and retaining customers, and modifying current business and production plans to more effectively integrate tourism services into their operations.
    3) By attending the workshops, 60 agricultural producers will understand the principles and strategic differences of marketing a consumer service relative to the products they have traditionally sold, and identify the agritourism potential of their respective operations.
    4) By attending the workshops, 90 community and tourism professionals (Chamber of Commerce, economic development professionals, Department of Local Affairs) will learn to work cooperatively with agribusiness owners to attract customers to a particular region, increase tourism spending and expand the economic impacts of tourism. Participants will be more aware of tourism-related business opportunities and resources in their areas and better able to use a broad network of resource providers.


1. Conduct inventory and classification of agritourism enterprises in CO — We have done this annually now in 2007 and in 2008 by electronic and written surveys. We have also contributed to the development of an agritourism section in the current Colorado Department of Agriculture Farm Fresh directory (the first year’s listing, for 2008, was free to all producers and Extension’s financial and technical contribution was acknowledged). FarmFresh is distributed statewide and 90,000 copies were produced for 2008. The Colorado Agritourism directory will next be rolled into MarketMaker, an interactive, fully-searchable mapping system that will link consumers and producers of agricultural products and services in Colorado. CSU-Extension and the Department of Ag and Resource Economics facilitated this development. Part of Colorado’s national leadership in that program includes being the first state to fully integrate agritourism enterprises (in addition to traditional food products).

2. Share preliminary tourism research and collect feedback at national rural development meetings — The following presentations were given by team members in 2008:

• Agritourism in Colorado: The Visitors, the Economics and the Opportunities. Presentation at the Southwest Marketing Network. Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 2008, 65 participants.
• Agritourism in Colorado: The Visitors, the Economics and the Opportunities. Presentation at Western Agricultural Economics Association. Big Sky, Montana, June 2008, 20 participants.

3. Develop producer-oriented marketing profiles — Related to this objective are three publications:

EDR 07-16. D. Thilmany, A. Ansteth., and M. Sullins. Colorado’s Agritourists: Who are the Adventurers, the Seekers and the Explorers? 2007. 9pp. http://dare.colostate.edu/pubs/edr07-16.pdf.
EDR 08-09. Y. Onozaka, M. Sullins, and D. Thilmany. The Future of Colorado Agritourism: A Look at Current and Future Participation Decisions. September 2008. 10 pp. http://dare.colostate.edu/pubs/edr08-09.pdf

Agritourism in the West: Exploring the Behavior of Colorado Farm and Ranch Visitors by William Gascoigne, Martha Sullins and Dawn Thilmany McFadden, Western Economics Forum (2008, forthcoming).

4. Develop example plans on regional or cluster-based agritourism/heritage tourism initiatives —Related to this objective, we held three workshops that focused on community-based agritourism (Steamboat, La Junta and Cortez). As a result we have seen the following impacts:

• Montezuma and La Plata counties have begun their own regional program to promote agritourism and farmers’ markets by securing a USDA grant for $50,000 in August 2008, and planning a follow-up workshop to address business development issues that producers have identified. This workshop is scheduled for January 21, 2009 and will be conducted in conjunction with Tom Hooten, CSU Extension.
• Routt, Jackson and Moffat Counties are participating in a Colorado Tourism Office Cultural Heritage Tourism Grant for Northwest Colorado Counties. The grant was awarded in late 2008 and focuses on marketing, web presence, visitor ready strategies, as well as hard copy maps, brochures and marketing materials. This program will bring people who own potentially marketable agricultural and natural resource amenities together with economic development groups to create win-win financial and economic opportunities.
• Jackson County has been recently added to the NW Colorado effort to promote Cultural Heritage Tourism. Extension outreach with the newly formed North Park Visitor’s Bureau is facilitating the inclusion and participation of Jackson County in this effort.
• In Routt County, new agri-tours were organized in 2008, demonstrating a fairly high profile community-wide effort focused on heritage ag and local foods initiatives.
• Larimer and Weld Counties are partnering to fund a regional initiative to develop a strategic plan for heritage and agritourism in those communities. They have applied for one grant to date, and have been mapping community assets and resources.

5. Distribute new curriculum modules for peer review; compile all training materials — The following curriculum was peer reviewed, compiled and distributed in 2008 (in both hard and electronic copies):

“Planning for Success: A Curriculum for Agritourism Operations and Communities” Chapters include:
1. Planning for Agritourism
2. Engaging Your Family & Community
• Family business partner worksheet
• Community resource worksheet
• Resources & references
3. Business Planning
• Business plans & financial statements
• Financial management & analysis
• Risk & resilience in agriculture fact sheet
4. Marketing Agritourism
• Branding & positioning your product
• Niche markets fact sheet
• Strategic marketing plan worksheet
5. Evolving Your Business
6. Risk Management
• Liability & legislation
• Top 10 ways to limit your liability
7. Regulations
8. Safety Considerations
• Additional resources
• Safety inspection checklists
9. Agritourism Resources
• Resource list & contacts
• Marketing & promotion resources fact sheet
• County health department contacts

In 2008, we distributed 147 hard copies of the curriculum at training events around Colorado.

6. Conduct 3 workshops in Colorado (Eastern plains, northern mountains, West Slope) — Due to demand from communities and individual producers, we conducted 5 full-day workshops in 2008 (and have planned one more for January 2009):
• January 25, 2008: Steamboat Springs
• February 22, 2008: Akron
• March 10, 2008: La Junta
• April 21, 2008: Delta
• April 22, 2008: Cortez

We also did a half-day workshop at the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting on June 10, 2008 in Colorado Springs.

7. Present at 3 conferences targeting Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce and tourism stakeholders — Team members presented at one conference in 2007 and two in 2008:

• Colorado Agritourism: What are Visitors Looking For? Presentation at 2007 Governor’s Tourism conference, October 2007, Grand Junction, 75 participants.
• Agritourism in Colorado: The Visitors, the Economics and the Opportunities. Presentation at 2008 Governors Conference on Agriculture, February 2008, Denver, 35 participants.
• Agritourism and Risk Management for Business Owners. Presentation at the first annual Colorado Entrepreneurial MarketPlace. October 2008. La Junta Colorado. 30 participants.

8. Analyze workshop and conference evaluations — The following tables synthesize all workshops conducted in 2008 around Colorado:

(Tables available upon request).

9. Make all curriculum modules accessible via Web, including video segments — Although we do not yet have any video segments, all resources and curriculum pieces are available through the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Web site: www.coloradoagritourism.com. From April to December there were 1,430 hits on the main agritourism Web site, and 227 on the resources page.

It should be noted that CSU is supporting the Colorado Department of Ag’s investment in the national Market Maker program. Specifically, we are developing the agritourism directory with the intention of having a GIS-oriented directory available of all operations by early 2009. We will be the first state among the 14 national Market Maker partner states that will highlight a broad set of agritourism enterprises in their online database and mapping program, which should increase our in-state networking, visibility and leadership for programming on this issue in the future.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Impacts and results from this project should be noted —
• Profile of agritourism raised at the state level such that the state of Colorado has determined that the Colorado Department of Agriculture will receive approximately $400,000 annually from the Unclaimed Property Tax Fund that will be channeled through CTO to support agritourism.
• Extension agents and campus-based staff regularly receive inquiries from producers and communities about issues related to agritourism. The Venture Capital fund grant has allowed us to secure 3 other grants that provide funding for business and marketing technical assistance through 2009 so that local and state needs were better met.
• More extension personnel in the field are equipped to partner with community organizations, as evidenced by two grants secured by teams with CSU cooperation during the past 6 months (Tom Hooten in the Southwest and Deb Alpe in the Northwest).


Sally Cookson

[email protected]
The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey
3011 East Highway 50
Canon City, CO 81212
Office Phone: 7192765191
Judy Walden

[email protected]
Tourism consultant
Walden Mills Group
3335 Wuitmand Street
Denver, CO 80212
Office Phone: 3034336440
Tom Hooten

[email protected]
Extension Agent
Colorado State University
109 W. Main St., Room 102
Cortez, CO 81321-3155
Office Phone: 9705653123
Phillip Bee

Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum
4320 East County Road 58
Fort Collins, CO 80524
Office Phone: 9704829168
CJ Mucklow

[email protected]
Routt County Director and Ag agent
Colorado State University-Extension
P.O. Box 772830
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
Office Phone: 9708790825
Wendy White

[email protected]
Marketing Specialist
Colorado Department of Agriculture
700 Kipling Street, Suite 4000
Lakewood, CO 80215
Office Phone: 3032394119
Deborah Alpe

[email protected]
Director for Jackson County
Colorado State University-Extension
5th and Logan Street
P.O. Box 1077
Walden, CO 80480
Office Phone: 9707234298