Increasing Farm Profitability through Agritourism Product Development and Marketing
In 2009, sixteen workshops were held in eight different states in the Northeast region (ME, MD, DE, VT, NH, NY, MA). The total number of workshop participants was 596, including farmers, service providers and other attendees. The workshops were followed by technical assistance for farmers. A follow-up web survey of farmers is underway to measure outcomes.
By the end of the two year project, at least 70 farmers in the Northeast will have adopted new agritourism practices that contribute to farm viability.
1. One farmer and one service provider from each of the participating locations in the Northeast region (Maine, Maryland/Delaware, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island/Massachusetts/Connecticut, Vermont and West Virginia) have committed to coordinate involvement in the project for their respective states. To facilitate communication, we have monthly conference calls supplemented with email updates.
2. Collaborating farmers and service providers have developed a curriculum of core business skills training modules, state-specific modules, and evaluation tools. These have been adapted for use in different locations.
3. Workshops in the seven locations occurred between January and November 2009. Sixteen workshops were held in eight different states with 596 attendees. From these workshops, we received 139 completed evaluations, which is lower than expected. We are planning a web survey follow-up but may need to do additional work contacting workshop participants.
4. Based on the evaluations immediately following the workshops, 97% of participants reported increased knowledge of income-generating opportunities for agritourism business and 90% reported that the workshop had given them the knowledge needed to implement these opportunities in their own agritourism business. Over 90% of workshop participants reported that they planned to thoroughly assess their business to determine where improvements or new ventures are needed during the next year, and 84% reported that they intended to implement improvements or new ventures based on information provided in the workshop. One-on-one technical assistance to support farms planning new ventures was available after the workshops. We are currently conducting a web survey to collect information on farms that have started a new agritourism venture, improved an existing venture, or decided not to begin a venture or activity based on business analysis.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
We have developed a curriculum of core business skills training modules that has been adapted for use in different states. Materials are available on a project sharepoint site. We conducted an evaluation on-site at the agritourism workshops held in 2009, and a second evaluation is currently being conducted online. According to the evaluation on-site at workshops, 84% of participants reported that they intended to implement improvements or new ventures based on information provided in the workshop. We anticipate reaching our performance target, however a low response rate on surveys may require extra effort to contact non-respondent workshop participants.
An additional outcome of the project is that collaborators have strengthened their relationships and shared best practices and barriers related to agritourism throughout the Northeast region. As a direct result of the SARE project, collaborators in NH and VT received a grant from the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education to support risk management related to agritourism.
Research Assistant Profes
Plymouth State University
MSC 68, 17 High Street
Plymouth, NH 03264
Office Phone: 6035353274
West Virginia Department of Agriculture-Oak Hill
226 Maple Avenue
Oak Hill, WV 25901
Office Phone: 3044699738
Tourism Economic Development
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
138 Pleasant Street, Suite 1
Farmington, ME 04938
Office Phone: 2077784650
SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
320 Bray Hall
Syracuse, NY 13210
Office Phone: 3154706561