Fall Agritourism Opportunities Are Here!
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As the weather starts to cool, many farms in our area are coming into one of their busiest seasons of the year: fall harvest and agritourism! Defined by NC State Extension Tourism, agritourism is the practice of farmers inviting visitors on their farms and offering “a variety of recreational, educational, and tourism activities to make their finances more resilient.” Agritourism provides an opportunity for the community to visit their local farms to learn about their operations and to enjoy the farm experience, be it a beautiful sunflower field, picking your own pumpkins to carve for Halloween, navigating a puzzling corn maze, interacting with goats or alpacas, or just getting a chance to see a working farm up close. Agritourism is beneficial for farmers as well, providing another revenue stream for funding their farm operation. Some examples of agritourism activities include u-picks, farm stays or tours, educational workshops, and seasonal activities associated with fall, winter, and spring holidays.
Agritourism also helps to support the purchasing and consumption of local foods in our communities. A study conducted in 2018-2019 by NC State Extension investigated the effect of agritourism activities on consumers attitudes toward consumption of local foods. Based on surveys from 328 families visiting six different farms across the state, engaging in agritourism was found to positively impact consumers’ attitudes toward local foods. After visiting farms, families overall increased their intentions to buy locally-produced products and were more willing to increase their budget to purchase local foods. Further, farm visitors were significantly more likely to ask elected officials to support local farmers, donate to support local farms, and encourage their social networks to buy local.
How can you find agritourism opportunities near you?
There are several ways to find local farms offering agritourism activities this fall and at other times in the year. One method is using the Got to Be NC and NC Farm Fresh websites developed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), within which you can search for farms in your area that offer agritourism activities. Another method is using the Visit NC Farms App, which is free to download and connects you with local farms near you and allows you to filter based on the activities or products that interest you. Looking for u-picks, farm stays, or craft beer or wine tours? You can search for these types of activities within the app to see which farms offer them near you as well as get directions. We will be showcasing the Visit NC Farms App at the Sanford Farmers’ Market on Saturday, October 8th, where you can see a showcase of locally grown and made products from nearby farms and learn more about agritourism activities happening this fall. The Sanford Farmers’ Market is located at 115 Chatham Street in downtown Sanford from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. each Saturday until November 12 this year.
What agritourism opportunities are happening this fall in and around Lee County?
Here is a list of agritourism activities happening nearby to get you started. Make sure to check the NCDA&CS’s websites mentioned above and the Visit NC Farms App for a more comprehensive list:
Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch, open September 17th to October 30th
1606 Pickett Road, Sanford NC 27332
White Hill Farms
Pick-your-own pumpkins starting October 1st
5030 S Plank Road, Cameron NC, 28326
Fall Harvest Festival, Fridays and Saturdays 4 p.m.-10 p.m. from October 7th through November 5th
Hayrides, corn maze, corn slide, bounce houses, pumpkin patch and more!
2508 Broadway Road, Sanford NC 27332
For more information about agritourism opportunities near you and supporting local farms, please contact N.C. Cooperative Extension at the Lee County Center office and ask for Meredith Favre, our Local Foods Coordinator, for more information.
Additional resources on agritourism:
● Cultivating Local Foods Consumers: Using Agritourism to Promote Local Foods
● Four Lessons to Build Resilience in Agritourism
● Agritourism Opportunities for Farm Diversification
For more information about agritourism opportunities near you and supporting local farms, please contact N.C. Cooperative Extension – Lee County Center and ask for Meredith Favre, our Local Foods Coordinator, for more information.