Capacity Building Workshops: Developing Regional Agritourism Networks for Agricultural Sustainability and Education

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $59,558.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Penny Leff
UC Sustatinable Agriculture Research and Education Program (UC SAREP)

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: display, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, marketing management, agricultural finance, risk management, value added, agritourism
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, new business opportunities, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Due to consolidation throughout the supply chain, falling wholesale prices in the face of increased costs and lack of economies of scale, small and mid-scale farmers and ranchers increasingly need to turn to direct marketing and alternative enterprises to sustain their food and fiber producing operations. Agritourism, defined as a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment or education of visitors and that generates supplemental income for the owner, is a fast-growing diversification strategy for small and mid-size farms, according to USDA census data. Successful agritourism organizations help sustain rural communities’ economies and natural qualities, and help teach the public about sustainable agriculture. California enjoys multiple county-wide agritourism organizations, developed by various combinations of agritourism operators, tourism professionals, agricultural professionals and community development organizations. However, most agricultural professionals in the state are unfamiliar with the possibilities and challenges of agritourism development. This project will provide six regional workshops to increase the capacity of agricultural and associated professionals to assist, train and facilitate farmers and ranchers in developing and operating profitable agritourism businesses and sustainable regional agritourism organizations, and will facilitate the development of regional and statewide networks of professionals involved in agritourism. Successful agritourism operators, agritourism organization leaders and experienced farm advisors will be key presenters and participants in the workshops.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-term outcomes are increased knowledge and awareness of agritourism by workshop participants, and familiarity with each other:
    • Increased knowledge by 300 regional professionals of agritourism operation activities, development, marketing and challenges
    • Increased awareness by 300 regional professionals of regional agritourism organization development and best practices for organizational sustainability
    • Introduction to other regional professionals interested in agritourism development.

    Medium-term outcomes are changes in the abilities and confidence by workshop participants to work together for the benefit of producers diversifying their operations with agritourism:
    • Ability by 100 workshop participants to participate in organizing introductory workshops for farmers and ranchers considering agritourism
    • Ability by 100 workshop participants to participate in regional agritourism organization development
    • Increased communication and networking among at least 20 workshop participants within each region for the purpose of agritourism development.

    Long-term outcomes are an increase in the number of successful agritourism operations and agritourism organizations, leading to small farm preservation, vibrant rural communities, and increased public knowledge about sustainable agriculture:
    • The establishment of 2 to 7 new agritourism operations in each region within 12 months.
    • Profitable participation in public sustainable agriculture education programs by 2 to 7 new agritourism operators in each region within 12 months.
    • The development of at least 2 new sustainable regional agritourism organizations nurtured or facilitated by workshop participants throughout California within 2 years.
    • A statewide coalition of agritourism professionals, operators, promoters, supporters, regulators and advisors.

    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.