Agritourism-Sustainable Agriculture with Cash and Information Flow
The project seeks to organize a coordinated marketing strategy for agri-tourism involving farms that practice sustainable agriculture or are interested in moving toward that goal. To accomplish this goal, the project has these objectives:
1. Coordinate a network of farmers offering farm stays, tours and market stands
2. Create maps for a series of sustainable agriculture/farm tours along the Oregon Coast Range
3. Design a Web site, brochure and collective booklet for advertising these opportunities; the Web site will include a regular newsletter that shares news from the farmers about sustainable agriculture practices
The project team, somewhat revised and expanded from its original membership, has completed a farm family map. The Web site is open but still under construction. And when all participating farm families send in their information, the project will publish a booklet that includes a feature and photograph on each farm.
In 2002, a reconfigured team finished the farm families’ map, which includes 24 farms, about twice the number originally planned. Nearly 6,000 copies were published and are being distributed by the project coordinator and families featured and provided to visitor centers in Corvallis and Newport as well as two country stores where tourists stop for gas and supplies along Hwy 20.
Joseph Kennelly-Ullman has been setting up the Web site, which will include the map and two or three pages for each farm, including a photo, description, product advertising and order form. Down the road, the site will feature selected farms and farm groups from other regions as well as other countries. A chat room and newsletter will allow farmers to communicate directly through the Web site, www.farmconnection.org.
When all of the farm families have submitted descriptions and photos of their farms, the project will publish an 8-inch by 5 1/2-inch brochure featuring one farm per page. The booklet is expected to be available in visitor centers in time for the summer 2003 tourist season. The Web site and map will continue beyond the life of the SARE funding, as enough farms are now involved that minimal annual fees should support these ongoing activities. In addition, a waiting list will be started for others wanting to join the effort, while the core group will maintain quality standards for the Web site and brochure.
The final report, to be submitted in mid July 2003, will list sales from the six or so farms that raise sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas for fiber, including results from the Black Sheep Festival, a major annual event in late June. Sales data for other enterprises will be projected for the balance of the season given that the bulk of revenues flow during July, August and September.
The publicity provided by this project is expected to increase sales for all farmers as well as enhance the education of visitors about the importance of family farms and agriculture.
“We have already experienced an increase in discussions and information exchange as a result of the project,” says project coordinator Catherine Knott Grant. “We anticipate that discussions and information exchange between farmers will increase.”
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
In the fall of 2000, thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation, the project hosted three Malians (West Africa) who worked on community forestry projects with farmers through non-government organizations. One was the coordinator of a major network of NGOs working on forestry and farm issues in Mali. The Malians stayed at the Knott Grant farm for three days, and then visited two other farms through the project’s tour arrangements. Their interest in the farm activities they observed was high.
In December 2002, Knott Grant arranged for Stanzin Tonyot of North India to stay at Blakesley Creek Farm, operated by a project cooperator. Tonyot is the farm coordinator and representative for the Ladakh Ecological Center and Ladakh Women’s Alliance, both part of the International Society for Ecology and Culture. Tonyot discussed the fiber production activities of the Women’s Alliance, including sheep raising, spinning, weaving and clothing sales, with members of the project’s farmer group.
In addition, Ruralite magazine, distributed to electric power consumers in several area counties, was scheduled in March 2003 to publish an article on the project, including photos and the farm tour map.