Home Farm Equipment Farms turn to agritourism for success

Farms turn to agritourism for success

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Landrum’s Homestead and Village is one of many largest agritourism operations in South Mississippi. This dwelling historical past museum situated in Laurel, Miss., takes guests again in time. They usually come again again and again. 

In accordance to Josh Upton, his grandfather and village founder, Tom Landrum, didn’t set out to create a vacationer attraction. However when Landrum paired his constructing and woodworking expertise along with his ardour for historical past and training, one thing particular occurred. 

“He always claimed he got bored easily,” Josh recalled. “He got this idea to build a log cabin in the pasture behind our family’s furniture store. He wanted to have a place to store some of the family antiques, and I think he wanted to give the grandkids something to do.” 

Motorists passing on Freeway 15 quickly seen the constructing venture. When it was accomplished, they requested to tour the cabin. Then they requested what was coming subsequent. 

“One thing led to another, and he decided to build a little homestead — barn, blacksmith shop, outhouse, and the grist mill,” Upton mentioned. “We started doing field trips. People started donating old farm equipment and tools. Then he decided to build a little village — general store, smoke house, chapel. A teacher came on a field trip and said she wanted to get married in our chapel. It just snowballed from there.” 

At this time, Landrum’s Homestead and Village accommodates greater than 80 buildings unfold throughout 30 acres. They’re open year-round, internet hosting weddings, subject journeys and seasonal festivals. Their premier occasion “Christmas at the Homestead,” kicks off a busy vacation season that features candlelight excursions and particular musical performances.  

“There’s no end in sight for the homestead,” Upton mentioned. “We’re including and altering on a regular basis, and possibly all the time can be. 

Ginger Rowsey

Landrums Homestead and Village options greater than 80 buildings together with a chapel, common retailer, blacksmith store and a number of other log cabins.

Agritourism continues to develop 

When Tom Landrum constructed his first homestead cabin again within the early Nineteen Nineties, few individuals had even heard the time period agritourism. However it’s a enterprise that has continued to develop, and in an more and more city society, it’s one of many few significant methods to join individuals to agriculture. 

The U.S. Census of Agriculture first started utilizing the time period “agritourism” in 2007. Since then, it has tracked its progress, up 67% within the first 10 years. Greater than 28,000 farms throughout the nation now embrace agritourism, leading to almost a billion {dollars} in direct gross sales from individuals visiting these farms. Agritourism actions vary from academic to pure leisure. From corn mazes and pumpkin patches to the newest pattern of providing countryside lodging to break up the monotony of the work-from-home routine. 

In lots of situations, agritourism actions are a method to reply to altering developments in each agriculture and shopper habits. That was the case for Falcon Ridge Farms in Toone, Tenn.  

Ray and Mary Ellen Gilmer household bought the 240-acre farm in 2000. Ray is a world champion horseman, and the Gilmers initially used Falcon Ridge as a horse coaching and breeding operation. However they started to discover fewer younger individuals coming into the horse enterprise — a pattern that was accelerated by the financial recession of 2007. 

“We wanted to do something that would continue to support our families and that would also take advantage of the infrastructure we already had,” mentioned Bart Gilmer, the Gilmers’ youngest son who manages agritourism on the farm. “It was also important that it was something we liked.” 

In 2009 Falcon Ridge hosted its first fall pageant. The next spring the Gilmers added an Easter occasion. Across the similar time, they started truck patch farming. Just like the Landrum household, the Gilmers’ agritourism enterprise started to snowball. 

At this time the Gilmers develop greater than 40 totally different crops, in addition to flowers and Christmas timber. They promote produce and recent lower flowers by means of a number of farmers markets and a CSA/farm share program. The Christmas timber are chosen and lower by households on the farm.  

Ginger RowseyRayGilmer-FalconRidge-web.jpeg

Ray Gilmer cuts flowers to be organized and bought at native farmers markets.

They nonetheless host a Harvest Pageant that now runs for six weeks, together with a particular Easter weekend on the farm. They’ve turn out to be a well-liked vacation spot for native faculty subject journeys. Every season at Falcon Ridge continues to supply a rising record of actions. 

“One goal we’ve had is trying to add one attraction per year,” mentioned Bart. “We want to be built on family traditions, but we don’t want you to get bored, either.” 

Covid considerations 

Agritourism has not escaped the affect of the pandemic, significantly throughout Spring of 2020, when there have been heavy restrictions and closures that adversely affected income. Cancellation of college subject journeys negatively impacted many operations and most faculties have nonetheless not resumed off-campus subject journeys.  

“Agritourism operations incurred higher costs for just about everything they purchased and implemented additional procedures for cleaning and keeping people healthy,” mentioned Megan Leffew, Extension specialist with value-added agricultural advertising with the College of Tennessee. “Many farms capped attendance at any one time to make sure there was plenty of room for social distancing and implemented this by requiring tickets be purchased online in advance for a specific time to arrive at the farm. Some operators chose to keep a few activities that were harder to clean/sanitize as effectively closed.” 

However Leffew provides that in some methods, the outside facet of most agritourism operations has truly helped in methods as guests search for safer, outside actions. 

“In many ways the pandemic has been tough for us because people aren’t traveling like they were, and also the schools are not taking field trips,” mentioned Upton. “But toward the end of 2020 we saw a lot of people that were ready to get outside and start doing something. They told us ‘thank goodness you’re doing this.’” 

Bart Gilmer echoes Upton’s feedback. 2020 had a tough begin, however good fall climate and crowds anxious to get outside led to one in every of their finest fall seasons. 

Ginger RowseyBartGilmer-FalconRidge-web.jpeg

Bart Gilmer serves as agritourism supervisor for Falcon Ridge Farms in Toone, Tenn.

“We had numerous people tell us they appreciate what we do here,” mentioned Bart. “We have seen a boost to produce sales, as well. When people go to the grocery store and can’t find things they start to think about local produce and that maybe it is important to shop local. I think it has changed some people’s habits permanently, and they’ll continue shopping local.” 

Fall enjoyable in retailer 

As Fall begins, agritourism season can be at its peak. And whereas a lot uncertainty nonetheless surrounds gatherings at public locations and areas, Gilmer and Upton and optimistic concerning the upcoming season. 

“Outside open-air activities are going to be more attractive than ever. They’re getting more popular all the time. We saw a lot of first-time guests in 2020,” Bart mentioned. 

“As an industry, it’s given us confidence. We got through this. We kept our heads above water. We can do it again.” 

Like all farmer, they’re simply hopeful for some good fall climate. 

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