It seems each weekend this time of year is packed with things to do outside; and for good reason! The weather is perfect and the holidays are approaching. Among the many festivals and festivities are a number of farm tours, or “agritourism” related events. For example, there was the recent Tallahassee and surrounding area “10th Annual Farm Tour: “Farms, Gardens and Ranches,” and Jackson County just hosted the annual “Antique Tractor Drive” as part of its Farm City Festival.
The Merriam Webster definition of “Agritourism” is “the practice of touring agricultural areas to see farms and often to participate in farm activities.” More specifically, pursuant to Florida Statute 570.961 the definition of agritourism in Florida is “any agricultural related activity consistent with a bona fide farm or ranch or in a working forest which allows members of the general public to view or enjoy activities related to farming, ranching, historical, cultural or harvest-your-own attractions for recreational, entertainment or educational purposes.”
Panhandle Florida is an agriculturally diverse region growing everything from row crops like cotton, corn, soybeans, and peanuts to hay, timber, beef cattle, dairy cattle, fruit, vegetables, and even shellfish along the coast. Many farms are beginning to offer agritourism related opportunities as a means to increase income, but also to increase awareness of the importance of agriculture, in its many diverse ways, to our lives.
Many farms and ranches also have large tracts of land that are left uncultivated and serve as natural areas for surrounding fish and wildlife. Because of this, many farms are not only prime candidates for agritourism, but “ecotourism” as well. In addition to our numerous national forests and state parks many private landowners also have the potential to market their natural areas through ecotourism. This, also, is a relatively new industry in Florida, and more can be read about it here: Ecotourism
“Growing agritourism in Florida is a terrific way of marrying two of our oldest industries: tourism and agriculture,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “The growth and success of agritourism in Florida is not only good for our economy, it also celebrates the people, families and businesses that make up Florida agriculture.” (Jul 27, 2016, Commissioner Adam Putnam and VISIT FLORIDA Promote Florida Agritourism, Press release)
For more information on this topic, please see the following UF/IFAS Publications and related websites.
- Agritourism Can Promote Your Farm and Generate Extra Revenue
- New & Improved Agritourism Law: What does it mean?
- Hosting a Farm Tour is an Excellent Marketing Tool
- Florida Agritourism Association
- UF/IFAS Agritourism