Feast in the Forest: Mindful Eating in the Wild! Test Marketing Opportunities for the Rapidly Growing Niche Wellness Tourism Market

Project Overview

FNC17-1069
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2017: $6,001.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Vintage Homesteader
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Penelope Beache
Vintage Homesteader LC

Commodities

  • Vegetables: greens (leafy)
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, weed ecology
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    Problem

    Domestic wellness retreats are rapidly becoming a top travel and tourism trend driven by consumer concern about health and wellness. Our farm is located in an agritourism region where Wellness Tourism offerings are uncommon. Agritourism offers entertainment — Wellness Tourism provides calm, private, tranquil experiences. We need a feasibility study for a farm Wellness Retreat offering to test the idea’s viability.

    Consumers are using their leisure time to explore opportunities that nurture their nature. Healthy eating is a significant part of their journey. Mindful eating, plant-based cooking workshops, herb walks, and farm-to-table experiences are all sustainable agriculture components of wellness tourism.

    Wellness Tourism consumers enjoy relaxing activities in natural environments; rather than run through a corn maze –they prefer yoga and Labyrinth walks. They want to eat healthy locally grown salad greens, which are under-represented at our local farmers market or on restaurant menus.

    According to wellness travel industry reports (see research section) wellness tourism revenues expanded from $438 billion in 2012 to $494 billion in 2013. In 2015 natural settings ranked as a #3 destination. A 2016 Yoga in America Report notes 39 million people practicing yoga today — an increase from 20.4 million practicing in 2012. “Mindful Eating” is a self-care recipe for promoting health and happiness. It is the art and science of becoming a more conscious eater with every bite. Mindful eating can change the way people think about food. Yoga retreat organizers, spas, and hotels are experiencing wellness consumer requests for fresh, locally produced, food.

    Feasibility studies are time consuming and expensive. Our project aims to test the market for small-scale farmers considering wellness-themed agritourism diversification. Developing an understanding of special product/service needs and expectations for a niche audience is paramount for long-term success.

    Solution

    Feast in the Forest: Unleashing the Power of Mindful Eating in the Wild!

    Utilizing traditional agritourism (See, Do, Buy) planning philosophy, we will leverage our sense of place, natural forest setting, and farm amenities to test the market for an on-farm Wellness Retreat program, designed to benefit both travelers and local residents.

    Our interactive agenda will encompass wellness consumer leisure interests.

    (A) Sculpt the Potager (kitchen garden) into a Labyrinth
    (B) Utilize our high-tunnel to grow a new product: salad greens
    (C) Test market Wellness Tourism activities

    The herb Labyrinth (a simple circular shaping of our Potager) will be a visitor- and monarch attraction. Retreaters will Labyrinth Walk and enjoy the view. This is the site for our herb, seasonal, and wild edible talks. Retreaters will collect ingredients to make a veggie smoothie/shake.

    The essential theme of the Well-being trend is Mindfulness; a simple plan requiring attention to intention. Utilizing space in our new high-tunnel, we will grow a diverse mix of baby salad greens. Retreaters will learn how sustainable agriculture produce is grown and harvested. They will engage in a mindful eating exercise by sitting quietly (without distractions) and tasting individual salad leaves, noticing the unique flavors, textures, and characteristics; becoming a more conscious eater with every bite. This meditative ritual nourishes the mind, body, and activates the senses. Retreaters will create an elegant power salad (cooking lesson).

    During poor weather conditions, we will use our farmhouse and sustainable-living library facilities.

    Working with tourism networks, we aim to offer 60 programs to groups of 6 adults (360 participants) who will help us collect valuable project survey data. Retreaters will register and pay in advance (no drop-ins) for test market purposes.

    Retreaters can buy produce from the farm. We will promote our retreat at our local Farmers Market, selling any surplus salad mix.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1.  Test the market for small-scale farmers considering wellness-themed agritourism diversification.

    2.  Improve environmental health by encouraging sustainable agriculture components of wellness tourism including: mindful eating, plant-based cooking workshops, herb walks, farm-to-table experiences and other consumer eduction.

    3.  Cultivate new and expanded markets for local producers by developing an understanding of special product/service needs and expectations of a niche audience.

    4.  Increase access by consumers to local, nutritious and affordable food and wellness education and experiences.

    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.