Small scale farmers in west Michigan are experiencing ever growing competition for their customers dollars. In an effort to provide additional on-farm income and provide further community involvement, farms are increasingly turning to agritourism opportunities. These opportunities include hosting on-farm dinners featuring local chefs preparing farm-raised food, local music events, weddings, U-pick produce, and several additional strategies. This project will examine three existing small-scale agritourism efforts by farmers involved in the West Michigan Growers Group. This examination will provide valuable information to other West Michigan and NCR region farmers who are interested in best practices for on-farm events and agritourism as well as show the value that each different approach provides for the farmer. The farmers involved in this project are primarily small-scale, diversified vegetable producers with little agritourism experience. This will culminate with an on-farm demonstration event to be attended by both interested farmers and the local community. The project will also include a series of farm field trips to better understand existing models for small and large scale agritourism enterprises. This project will also examine the potential impact on generating and retaining customers through deeper connections with farms who are hosting events.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Research existing models of small-scale farm agritourism through regional “field trips”.
- Assess the potential ROI of different agritourism activities on small scale sustainable farms and develop case studies of each farm and strategy
- Develop a “users guide” to implementing successful and relevant on-farm events and activities.
- Hold a “demonstration” event for local farmers in the West Michigan region to give practical experience and training for agritourism activities.