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What is Agritourism? Where Can You Go To Experience A Working Farm And Have A Great Meal to Boot?

“Land is not merely soil, it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals.” ~ Aldo Leopold


Agritourism


Introduction

Have you wanted to work on a dude ranch for the summer or happened upon a Bison ranch while on a road trip? How about a dairy farm selling cheese and ice cream? A vegetable farm selling eggs, veggies, and homemade bread? These family farms comprise a $50M market capitalization and are expected to grow into a $65M market by the end of 2028. Agritourism is a business built on creating educational experiences and fun vacation getaways. Barn dances and weddings, summer camps, and romantic weekends are a few ways agritourism is built into the travel and tourism industry.


I always look for local farms and the products they sell on any road trip. What do they offer? Farm Stay is a website designed to search by addressing all local family farms providing many experiences for you and your family. Click a link like Milk, a Cow, collect eggs, or

harvest food, and Farm Stay will take you to a list of farms or ranches open to the public for experiences and enrichment.



Chefs and Cooking


Jobs In Agritourism

From farm hands to marketing and sales specialists, it is essential to have staff supporting the operations of a farm and hotel. Visitors want a full-service experience, engaging in activities, meals, and accommodations. Some land grant colleges offer certificates and degrees in the subject matter. Jobs in this space are connected to food and beverage positions and even farming internships in field planting, harvesting, farmer’s markets, and animal husbandry. The farms are a great way for undergraduate students to work in their fields of study for summer break.

Event Coordinator positions tend to be more permanent on busier farms, given that companies contract with agritourism to provide their employees with offsite work solutions for idea generation and incubation, which requires the farm to provide housing, conference facilities, and restaurant eateries. Not to mention outdoor experiences and group challenges. I attended an offsite work event where they held a zipline race between two teams. Another, we started with Tug-O-War and finished with a clambake cookoff challenge. Any farm conference facility tends to employ at least 150-200 employees in any given year.


The employment market in Agritourism can be cyclical, given that most families use summer vacations to attend learning and work events. Farming in most places are growing crops from April through September. Restaurants usually stay open year-round to capture other visitors near ski resorts and hikers. Some Agritourism workers are transient and move between season jobs across their region.



Chefs Cooking Farm Fresh


On-Site Chefs & Agritourism

Farms tend to have 2-3 eateries onsite, and one of them is usually a coffee and pastry outlet: small bites, baked goods made from onsite pastry chefs, curated from products grown on the farm. A small restaurant to accommodate sandwiches and salads, locally harvested products prepared as grab-n-go deli style. Visitors are scheduled for experiences or are part of the day's work effort. They will need to take their lunch and something to drink along to their planned event. Finally, a high-end dining experience is open to all residents. Pizza & Italian for the “Littles” under a Pergola, where a dedicated catering staff serves local brews and wines for the parents. Chefs are curating onsite-grown meats and vegetables inside the dining room for a more formal night out.


They prepare menus with tempura fried squash blossoms, Starflowers, and A5 Wagyu is on the tasting menu. Microgreens are used, the most flavorful and decadent beet greens, baby summer squash, and heirloom sweet peppers. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, drizzled with Olive Oil and Maldon Sea Salt. All Country French bread is baked daily and made from the the farm’s “Mother.” All crops are selected and grown by the farm manager and chef. A full-time farm manager is a fantastic opportunity for a college graduate with 5+ years of experience. Farm chefs come from broad and rich backgrounds; they bring sound technique and a passion for growing most if not all, products on the farm itself.



Llama Farm


3 Featured Farms

Growing up, I volunteered with The Grange on Maple Syrup projects and other farming experiences. Vermont was known for syrup operations, cheese planes, and sheepherding. California offers winery experiences, oystering along the Marin County coastline and Sonoma Valley Cheesemaking. Finally, a Bison farm in —--Opelika, Alabama —


  1. Vermont: Liberty Hill Farm & Inn runs a 270-cow dairy farm, makes its cheese, and offers hundreds of acres of cross-country skiing. They offer three meals per day, plus snacks. Fly fish for Trout and Salmon, or mountain bike the trails from the Inn.


  1. California: Spring Coyote Ranch, based in Marshall, California. Learn about Navajo-Churro Sheep, take a shearing class, and hike along Tomales Bay. The chef’s lamb is prepared in the evening using the “asador” cooking method. Slow-roasted over an open fire pit with charred citrus, Rosemary, and local vegetables.


  1. Alabama: Bama Bison Company is located just east of Montgomery, Alabama. They offer onsite camping, lodging, and ample catering space for public and private events. They raise their herd on 100% pasture grass and natural forage. They believe in the same philosophies of animal husbandry as Temple Grandin, low stress, and cattle comfort.


Outdoor Cooking

Wrapping It Up

Once you begin planning a trip to a local farm, think about what you get out of it because Agrotourism is a vacation and a learning experience. Ask yourself these five questions:


  1. Where do I want to go?

  2. What are three things I would consider doing on a long weekend?

  3. What subject matter am I most interested in? Ranching? Farming? Fly Fishing? Foraging?

  4. Where am I willing to go, and how far?

  5. What is my budget?



Ensure you are prepared for a long weekend or week-long vacation choc-full of activities, learning, and fantastic food. ⧭



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