Increasing Economic Viability and Promoting Sustainable Agriculture through Agritourism

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $7,485.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Amy Ager
Hickory Nut Gap Farm – Spring House Meats


  • Agronomic: corn


  • Animal Production: winter forage
  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, urban/rural integration, community development

    Proposal summary:

    To diversify our enterprises into complimentary endeavors and to create a hands-on learning environment, we plan to have a five acre corn maze and small area for interaction with farm animals. Since the sustainability of family farms is directly tied to a community’s connection to agriculture, education and experience will be a central focus of this agritourism project. Before groups enter the maze they will choose from a variety of questions based on themes involving agriculture. A school group may choose questions that were designed for their grade level or a family may choose questions about sustainable farming. As visitors go through the maze they will have numbered points where they will stop to answer a question. Answering the question correctly will give the group the correct direction to turn at that point in the maze. As they finish the maze they will be encouraged to visit with the animals and browse the farm stand, which will sell apples, value added products made by other local farmers, ready to eat food, and our frozen grass-fed beef and lamb, and pasture raised pork. To evaluate the effectiveness of our solution we will measure the increase of gross revenue, the change in sales of existing products, the number of return customers and the number of school groups. We will do this by keeping detailed financial records in Quick Books, a computer accounting program, and by counting the number of ticket sales and return customers. The educational component of the maze will be evaluated through feedback from teachers and the general public through surveys and a suggestion box. Teachers will be asked to rate components of the experience on a scale of one to five.

    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.