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

2009 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 extension of this project into a third year has had some very tangible benefits for agricultural producers and their communities. We have been able to begin updating some consumer research related to how consumers plan for and find agritourism opportunities in a community, conduct two additional workshops and plan for several more in 2010, and become a member of the new State Agritourism Committee for Colorado which will allow us to have long-term involvement in supporting this sector.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  1. The third year of this project has involved additional outreach and research to benefit communities across Colorado, discussed under each major project objective below.

    Major objective l. Directly impact the economic sustainability of producers in Colorado by providing business technical assistance to producers and their business support systems on the unique business, land resource and customer managements issues associated with agritourism enterprises in different areas of Colorado.

    In collaboration with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, we offered two workshops, with a third that was postponed until February 2010 due to weather on the previously planned date. The two workshops were:
    – January 21, 2009 agritourism workshop in Cortez for Montezuma County & Cortez Cultural Center to assist business owners and help communities better support these businesses through coordinated marketing, promotion and developing community-wide business assistance and resources. 19 participants attended.
    – January 30, 2009 agritourism workshop in Byers targeted toward Eastern Plains communities and Denver metro area. 70 participants attended.

    We also conducted several community presentations on agritourism as a value-added business strategy for agricultural producers. Attendees included many agricultural professionals who provide technical and business assistance to area producers.

    – April 30, 2009, “Agritourism in the San Luis Valley”, presentation to San Luis Valley Tourism Association on community-level benefits of agritourism development for the region. 43 participants attended.
    – May 15, 2009, “Value-Added Enterprises on CRP & Managed Grasslands”, presentation on value-added agriculture at Conservation Reserve Program Summit for Southeastern CO in Lamar. 30 participants attended.

    At each of the 2 workshops we distributed the entire agritourism “Planning for Success” curriculum, for a total of 55 workbooks and 34 CDs (we tried to convince participants, when they were comfortable doing so, to take an electronic version to lower our copying expenses).

    Major objective 2. Contribute to the economic viability of rural communities by providing professional development to producers’ business support systems on topics such as joint marketing and promotional programs, necessary investments in tourism infrastructure (lodging, regional visitor centers) and enhanced referral programs among businesses and organizations.

    Three regions have made significant advancements in this area, under this project. First, Routt, Jackson and Moffat Counties completed their Colorado Tourism Office Cultural Heritage Tourism Grant in Northwest Colorado, and the project has expanded to include Rio Blanco County. Garfield and Grand Counties have also expressed interest in joining the group. They are printing a regional marketing brochure in January 2010 and have already produced a cultural tourism interpretive guide to Steamboat Springs (Routt County) and a strategic plan for the region. This program brings people who own potentially marketable agricultural and natural resource amenities together with economic development groups to create new financial and economic opportunities. This group has been meeting monthly, and has resulted in significant networking among economic development staff and the ag and natural resources community. We are tentatively planning a workshop for March 2010 to support their regional efforts.

    A second region that has made significant advancements this year is Northern Colorado where the infrastructure to support value-added agricultural products and services is being enhanced through the Northern Colorado Cultural Tourism Alliance. Through matching provided under this project, two counties are working together to promote, in part, the agricultural heritage of the region and create new economic opportunities that are well-supported by economic development staff at all levels. Through 16 meetings during 2009, this group:
    1. developed a two-county asset inventory;
    2. developed an RFP to hire a consultant to write a strategic plan;
    3. organized Northern CO strategic plan development with consultants; and
    4. developed and held a public meeting in December 2009 to introduce the communities to the project.

    The third region that has advanced agritourism development is the Four Corners area of Colorado, known as Mesa Verde Country. They have completed an inventory of regional agritourism enterprises and completed their website with business listings, events, biofuel production sites on ag land and heritage attractions featuring agriculture (http://www.mesaverdecountry.com/tourism/agriadv.html). This region extends into Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and its promotion through the regional website will bring visitors from other states into Colorado.

    Across communities in Colorado, our network of partners and collaborators has grown as follows:
    1. Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Tourism group
    2. Colorado Department of Agriculture, Markets Division
    3. Northern Colorado Cultural Tourism Alliance
    4. Colorado Heritage Tourism Program
    5. Colorado Wine Industry Development Board
    6. Colorado Tourism Office
    7. Mesa Verde Country
    8. Cortez Cultural Center
    9. San Luis Valley Tourism Association
    10. Delta County Tourism
    11. Northwest Colorado Products/Community Ag Alliance
    12. Greeley Convention & Visitors Bureau
    13. Weld County Planning Department
    14. Larimer County Planning Department
    15. Fort Collins Convention & Visitors Bureau
    16. Rural Land Use Center (Larimer County)
    17. Department of Local Affairs, Division of Local Government
    18. Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority
    19. Rocky Ford Growth & Progress (Otero County)


Project accomplishments and milestones are discussed according to the project timeline, as follows, including updates to those mentioned in last year’s report:

Conduct inventory and classification of agritourism enterprises in CO — The Colorado Agritourism directory has now been rolled into MarketMaker (www.comarketmaker.com), an interactive, fully-searchable mapping system that links 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). This aspect of software development is ongoing with the University of Illinois.

Conduct 3 workshops in Colorado (Eastern plains, northern mountains, West Slope) — To-date, we have conducted 5 full-day workshops in 2008 and 2 full-day workshops in 2009 which cover the Eastern Plains (2 workshops); northern mountains (1 workshop); West Slope (1 workshop); southwest (2 workshops); southeast (1 workshop). We have several planned for 2010 that encompass the northern mountains, southeast, the San Luis Valley and West Slope.

Share preliminary tourism research and collect feedback at national rural development meetings — In 2009, we conducted consumer intercept surveys in 4 locations to update some of our data and findings on consumer preferences, expenditures and other travel behavior concerning agritourism. These locations were northwest Colorado in Steamboat Springs, a site in rural Routt County and Sheepwagon Days in Moffat County, and at Harvestival in Larimer County. We also set up some experiments to analyze the role of social marketing for agritourism enterprises in providing cost-effective marketing. The results from these two studies were presented in part at the Food Distribution Research Society meeting in November 2009 and will be published in the conference proceedings. Although not a rural development meeting, the FDRS meetings were a good forum to educate research and extension staff on another aspect of food systems development.

Under other research dissemination, we shared all of our previous research and the entire curriculum with the new State Agritourism Committee in December 2009. Lastly Julie Fox, State Specialist in Direct Marketing & Tourism Development at Ohio State University requested a copy of all of work on agritourism to launch a similar project in Ohio.

Present at 3 conferences targeting Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce and tourism stakeholders — Team members presented at one conference in 2007, two in 2008, and one in 2009 that did include some economic development staff: a presentation on value-added agriculture at Conservation Reserve Program Summit for Southeastern CO in Lamar on May 15, 2009, entitled “Value-Added Enterprises on CRP & Managed Grasslands.”

Analyze workshop and conference evaluations — Attached are tables that synthesize evaluations from all workshops conducted to date in Colorado. We are in the process of conducting a follow-up evaluation among agricultural professionals.

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. We continue to add to these pages as new resources become available.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

  • • 7 full-day workshops have been conducted in Colorado to date, and 1 half-day workshop. At least 3 more are planned for 2010
    • 227 individuals have received direct training so far under this project.
    • Ag producers made up the greatest share of workshop participants at 63% of the total, followed by those from federal, state and local agencies (the producer support system).
    • The most frequently cited ideas that participants gained from the workshops were: investing in collaboration and networking, adding a new product or service, and developing a marketing plan or conducting a market analysis for their proposed product or service.
    • Three regions of Colorado have used support from this project to advance the economic development infrastructure necessary to make agritourism successful for producers in the long-run.
    • The profile of agritourism has been 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. Although the current budget situation in the state of Colorado has impeded the flow of these funds the new state-level committee held its first meeting in December to create state-level supports for agritourism.
    • 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 2008/2009 (Tom Hooten in the Southwest and Deb Alpe in the Northwest), and on-going work in these regions. We have also built partnerships with tourism organizations which is an unusual but fruitful alliance for the agricultural community: the Colorado Tourism Office and its State Agritourism Committee, Rocky Ford Growth & Progress, Mesa Verde Country, Delta County Tourism, Larimer and Weld County Convention and Visitors’ Bureaus, and the San Luis Valley Tourism Association.


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