Growing California Agritourism Communities

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $73,010.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of California
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, budgets/cost and returns, business planning, farmers' markets/farm stands, financial management, labor/employment, marketing management, new enterprise development, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, community planning, employment opportunities, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, public policy, quality of life, social capital, social networks, urban/rural integration


    California small-scale agricultural producers, due to lack of economies of scale, need to add value to their production activities to maintain the economic viability of their farms and ranches. As public interest in local food and sustainable farming practices increases, a growing number of producers are considering diversifying with agritourism operations. Agritourism operations are most successful as part
    of a supportive community that includes tourism professionals, county regulators, agricultural educators and other agritourism operators. This project will provide training, resources and peer support to committed agricultural educators (including NRCS and RCD), government staff, agritourism association leaders and tourism professionals as they train producers in agritourism and develop supportive agritourism communities. Fifty participants, including 24 selected agricultural educators (12 in each region) who commit to offering workshops or other agritourism education for producers, will be invited to participate in the intensive two-day workshops, and will be provided curricula and follow-up support as they share the knowledge, skills and tools with their clients and communities. The workshops and
    farm tours will feature intimate discussions with experienced agritourism operators and agritourism trainers. Tools and resources created through this project will include activity-specific agritourism planning guides, California-oriented issue presentations for educators adapted from the Training Modules of the Extension Training for Agritourism Development project published online by Rutgers University Extension, and a directory of California agritourism support resources and organizations. The project will result in increased agritourism training opportunities and resources for California producers and an increase in the number of agritourism supportive communities.

    Project objectives:

    Goals and Objectives:
    The long-term goal of this project is the development of twenty clusters of profitable California agritourism operations that sustain producers and educate visitors about sustainable agriculture, are supported by the local agricultural and tourism communities, and contribute to the economic development of their communities.  Specific short-term project objectives are:

    1. Increased confidence among 50 project participants in their ability to train and support producers in developing and promoting profitable agritourism operations by the end of the workshops.
    2. At least ten project participants will begin organizing agritourism planning workshops for producers in their communities by the end of the project.
    3. At least 30 project participants will participate in organizing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities by the end of the project timeline.
    4. At least 50 agricultural educators will increase their understanding of the opportunities and challenges of agritourism by downloading California agritourism issues presentations by the end of the project.
    5. At least 100 agricultural producers will download agritourism activity-specific planning guides and budget templates by the end of the project.

    Medium-term objectives (one year after the end of the project) are:

    1. 200 California agricultural producers will participate in agritourism planning workshops organized by project participants
    2. At least twenty project participants will report being involved in ongoing agritourism development, support or promotional activities in their communities.
    3. At least ten additional California agricultural educators or support professionals will begin organizing agritourism planning workshops for producers, using project-produced materials.
    4. At least 500 agricultural producers will download agritourism activity-specific planning guides and budget templates.

    Long-term objectives (two to four years after the end of the project) are:

    1. 12 California counties, within the past four years, will have revised zoning ordinances to ease entry by agricultural producers into the agritourism industry.
    2. 300 California farmers or ranchers will have started agritourism operations within the past four years
    3. 30 California visitors bureaus will have increased promotion of regional agritourism operations and report increased public interest in agritourism activities.
    4. 10 new producer-based agritourism associations will be thriving, each with at least seven farmers or ranchers offering profitable agritourism activities, an internet marketing program, and support from local economic development and tourism professionals
    5. California agritourism operators will report average annual growth rates of ten percent in both agritourism revenues and numbers of visitors.
    6. Agritourism will be commonly understood among the California public to mean pleasurable and educational activities on California farms and ranches that helps sustain agricultural communities.
    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.