Agritourism has been adopted by a number of farms in the state as an additional source of income.  Tourists from across the country and abroad are choosing to lodge at hotel alternatives such as the homes, cottages, and suites of private landowners and state and national parks.  A new form of lodging dubbed a “Farm Stay” marries the concepts of alternative lodging and agritourism.  Farm Stays are farms and ranches that are open to the public for lodging and, in some cases, voluntary labor.

Airbnb is a favorite site of travelers looking to avoid traditional hotel lodging, however there are lots of alternative sites depending on the type of lodging people are looking for.  Two sites that assist in farm bookings are Farm Stay USA and Yonder.  Farm Stay USA is an association that helps market farms that provide lodging.  For their members, they provide advertising, a comprehensive business guide with planning and regulatory information, and educational opportunities.  Customers are able to search farms by location and farm type.  Yonder is a booking site that allows travelers to search destinations by farm type.

Family picking blueberries at a u-pick farm. Photo taken on 06-30-16.

Family picking blueberries at a u-pick farm. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS

If you already provide some sort of agritourism such as pick-your-own fruit, a corn maze, or other farm activities, then you may want to start thinking about taking your farm to the next level by offering a farm stay option.  The EDIS publication Florida’s Agritourism Laws provides guidance for complying with Florida laws and regulations.  You will also need to research local laws and regulations.

Opening your farm for lodging not only adds an additional source of income, it provides an opportunity for farmers to teach people about the economic and environmental benefits that agriculture provides to our communities and the world.  These customers can then become advocates for farms and agricultural products for the rest of their lives.