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

2011 Annual Report for EW10-004

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)

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


Agritourism is a fast-growing diversification strategy for small and mid-size farms in California, but most agricultural professionals are unfamiliar with the possibilities and challenges of agritourism development. To help develop supportive networks, we organized five regional workshops featuring presentations by experienced agritourism operators, marketing professionals, agricultural advisors and county planning staff and involving agritourism industry partners from multiple counties in each region in small group discussions. All workshop participants received regular newsletters and were invited to join a listserv and use a Facebook page. Preliminary evaluations show increased knowledge, new enterprises planned, new collaborations and changes to county zoning ordinances.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Initial proposal outcomes:

• 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.
• 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.
• 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.

Other objectives:

• Encourage easing of permitting and regulatory barriers to new agritourism operations
• Encourage business planning, risk management, hospitality skill development and effective marketing by farmers and ranchers diversifying with agritourism.



• Organized and promoted, with regional planning teams in each region, five professional development workshops in five different California regions. The workshops involved 355 participants, including:
o 69 agritourism operators
o 106 farmers or ranchers considering agritourism
o 49 tourism professionals
o 65 government staff or elected officials
o 68 community or agricultural organization representatives
o 29 economic development or community development professionals
o 47 farm advisors or other agricultural professionals
(some participants indicated multiple affiliations)
• Organized and promoted to workshop participants four regional follow-up gatherings. These gatherings included presentations by local insurance agents or economic development professionals, small group discussions, and tours of working agritourism operations. The follow-up gatherings were attended by smaller groups than the initial workshops, most likely because they were held later in the year when agricultural production activities kept most potential participants from attending.
• Posted agendas, presentations and handouts from the workshops, and notes from the follow-up gatherings on our website,
• Created and distributed to workshop registrants a list of suggested online readings and resources
• Started a Facebook page for networking and communication,
• Created and distributed five issues of online newsletter, AgTour Connections to all workshop participants
• Completed a poster presentation of project, including initial evaluation results, which was displayed at the UC ANR Sustainable Food Systems Initiative Conference.
• Began telephone and email survey of all workshop participants to measure results.

Still to be completed

• Completion of evaluation survey and analysis of results
• Completion and publication online of two guides:
o Issues and recommendations for development and sustainability of regional agritourism organizations
o Changing the rules – a guide to participation in county planning and regulation for agritourism

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

• Workshop evaluations collected immediately following the workshops were compiled to show that participants increased their knowledge significantly about various aspects of agritourism.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing no or very little knowledge, and 5 representing extremely knowledgeable, the following average increases in level of knowledge were reported:
o Range of possible activities –1.5 points increase
o Business planning needs and resources – 1.8 points increase
o Regulatory challenges and issues – 1.6 points increase
o Risk management challenges – 1.5 points increase
o Marketing opportunities – 1.7 points increase
o Association challenges and issues – 1.6 points increase
• Analysis of the initial response to the email and telephone survey conducted 6 months after the workshops shows:
o An increase in participants’ reported confidence in ability to provide useful guidance to agritourism operators and associations.
o An increase in participants’ reported level of involvement with agritourism
o 14 percent of participating farmer or ranchers hosted visitors for the first time
o 30 percent of participating farmers or ranchers have begun planning new agritourism activities
o 24 percent of participants have helped educate farmers or ranchers about agritourism
o 92 percent of the non-farmer participants have helped promote agritourism
• Following the regional workshops, with assistance from a Western SARE PDP program grant for California, we organized a statewide agritourism summit which was attended by more than 120 agritourism leaders from throughout California. Many of the attendees were participants from the regional professional development workshops held earlier in the year. At the statewide summit, regional breakout groups met to discuss priorities for strengthening agritourism support in their regions. The consensus of 6 of the 7 regional groups was that a statewide organization of some kind would be useful for improved communication, collaboration, influence on legislation beneficial to the industry, and for sharing of resources and skills.
• Several attendees who are county planning staff have been directly involved in coordinating new zoning ordinances in their counties that seem to reduce the permitting barrier for new agritourism operations.


Ellie Rilla
**Project Coordinator/Senior Associate: Community Development Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension
1682 Novato Boulevard
Suite 150-B
Novato, CA 94947
Office Phone: 4154994204
Devon Riley
President, Farm Owner
Oak Glen Apple Growers Association
39611 Oak Glen Rd.
number 13
Oak Glen, CA 92399
Office Phone: 9097971005
Alice Patterson
Sierra Oro Farm Trails
669 County Square Drive, Suite 100
300 Salem St.
Chico, CA 95928
Office Phone: 5308915556
Karen Bates
The Philo Apple Farm
18501 Greenwood Rd
Philo, CA 95466
Office Phone: 7078952461
Joy Barlogio
Director/Farm Owner
Ag Adventures of the Central Coast
4665 Jack Creek Road
Templeton, CA 93465
Office Phone: 8052383799
Jonelle Tannahill
California Travel and Tourism Commission
980 9th Street, Suite 480
Sacramento, CA 95814
Office Phone: 9164444429
Scott Oneto
Farm Advisor, County Director
UC Cooperative Extension
12200-B Airport Road
Cooperative Extension Amador County
Jackson, CA 9564-9527
Office Phone: 2095335686
Maxwell Norton
Farm Advisor, Acting County Director
UC Cooperative Extension
2145 Wardrobe Avenue
Cooperative Extension Merced county
Merced, CA 9534-6445
Office Phone: 2093857403
Ramiro Lobo
Small Farms and Agricultural Economics Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension
San Diego North County Office
151 E. Carmel St.
San Marcos, CA 92078
Office Phone: 7607524716
Penny Leff

**Project Coordinator: Agritourism Coordinator
UC Small Farm Program
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Office Phone: 5307527779
Cindy Lashbrook
Riverdance Farms
12230 Livingston Cressey Road
Livingston, CA 95334
Office Phone: 2097610081
Alice Patterson
Sierra Oro Farm Trails
Chico Chamber of Commerce
300 Salem St.
Chico, CA 95927
Office Phone: 5308915556
Alice Patterson
Sierra Oro Farm Trails
Chico Chamber of Commerce
300 Salem St.
Chico, CA 95927
Office Phone: 5308915556
Dr. Shermain Hardesty
**Project Director: Small Farm Program Director
UC Small Farm Program
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Office Phone: 5307520467
Deborah Giraud
Farmand Community/Economic Development Advisor
UC Cooperative Extension
5630 South Broadway
Eureka, CA 9550-6998
Office Phone: 7074457351
Phil Giles
North Coast RC&D
2448 Guerneville Road
Suite 100
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Office Phone: 7075699710
Holly George
** Project Coordinator/Senior Associate: Livestock & Natural Resource Advisor, County Director
UC Cooperative Extension
208 Fairground Road
Quincy, CA 95971
Office Phone: 5302836262
Kris Casto
Mariposa Agri-Nature Trail Committee
Mariposa County Visitors Center
5158 Hwy 140
Mariposa, CA 95338
Office Phone: 2093778458
Kristy Johnson
Tourism Manager
Fresno County Office of Tourism
2220 Tulare Street
number 800
Fresno, CA 93721
Office Phone: 5592624271
Dr. Rose Hayden-Smith
County Director
UC Cooperative Extension
669 County Square Drive, Suite 100
Cooperative Extension Ventura County
Ventura, CA 9300-5401
Office Phone: 8056451466
Larry Akin
Central Sacramento Valley RC&D
PO Box 606
327 Fourth Street
Orland, CA 95693
Office Phone: 5308655058
Robyn Smith
Yosemite Sequoia RC&D
PO Box 415
North Fork, CA 93643
Office Phone: 5598778660
Jeff Rodriquez
Central Coast RC&D
65 South Main Street
Suite 105
Templeton, CA 93465
Office Phone: 8054340396