Throw open the pasture gates and invite visitors to experience life on a working farm. Agritourism creates bountiful opportunities to diversify your business and boost your revenue with on-farm activities. With the right ideas, you can draw folks to your farm or ranch without too much added time or expense. Just be sure to check with your insurance agent first. Bonus: These profitable agritourism ideas can also connect you with your community.
1. U-Pick Produce
Crops ranging from strawberries to sunflowers are ripe for the picking on u-pick farms. Provide baskets, simple instructions and let guests harvest their own produce or flowers. If you have the space, plant multiple crops so you can keep the u-pick option available as the seasons change.
2. Corn Maze
Invite families to spend an afternoon in your farm’s corn maze. When paired with u-pick produce, it can turn your property into more of a destination. Use a GPS program to plot a design through an acre (or more) of corn and invite visitors to explore your farm. Adding other activities like a pumpkin patch or hayrides help amp up the fun factor.
3. Birthday Parties
Kids can celebrate their birthdays at your farm with this popular, year-round agritourism idea. Offer pony rides or hayrides and organize simple farm-themed games like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey or duck-duck-goose. Be sure to also provide a covered picnic area where families can serve cake and ice cream.
4. Petting Zoo
The sheep, goats and ponies on your farm can be the star of the show at a petting zoo. These domesticated farm animals are docile enough to let kids pet and feed them. Being surrounded by larger farm animals is a thrill for kids, too! Just be sure to keep the cows fenced off from your guests and let the kids admire the bigger critters from afar.
5. Farm Dinners
Your harvest can be the basis of gourmet meals. Collaborate with a local chef to develop a menu and host the occasional multi-course meal that turns your farm into a foodie destination. If you need to, you can source ingredients from other local farms as well. Farm dinners tend to be upscale events, so it’s important to budget for extras like linens, china and servers to bring out the farm-to-table meal.
6. Farm Stays
Converting an outbuilding (or building a cabin) and inviting guests to spend the night on the farm gives visitors a chance to connect with the land. Some farm stays include breakfast made with farm-fresh eggs and produce. Others invite guests to help with simple chores like collecting eggs or picking herbs. Remember to check zoning laws to see if short-term rentals are allowed before pursuing this potentially profitable hobby farm idea.
7. Riding Lessons
If you have horses on your property, consider offering horse-riding lessons as a small farm business alternative. You’ve already made the capital investment in the horses and the land, assets most families don’t have but would pay to gain access to. Consider sharing this equestrian farm activity with guests and find a new revenue stream for your small farm or ranch.
Before Launching Any of These Agritourism Ideas
While promoting agritourism can attract new customers and boost your bottom line, inviting the public onto your farm comes with some risks. It’s important to be prepared.
Before introducing agritourism activities, be sure to put away machinery (and remove keys). Hang signs to alert visitors of potential hazards, such as electric fence wires. Have a first-aid kit on hand and install hand-washing stations.
Check Your Coverage
Most importantly, consult with your local Farm Bureau agent to make sure you have the proper insurance policy to cover agritourism activities on the farm. These safety precautions will ensure that you and your guests can relax and enjoy some fun on the farm!