the agritect

@VELD architect, southwestern Ontario

“Healthy agritourism is like having a factory in your economic community”

This quote by Vance Blackmore was the introduction to a conference dedicated to agritousim in hosted by Tourism Middlesex last month. The event was aptly called ‘Beyond the City Lights’ originally initiated by OMAFRA. He was referring to the equine industry in Middlesex County and its ability to generate income and economic growth in the community through tourism. What an inspiring statement for anyone considering agritourism!

But agritouism on your farm can come with a lot of concerns and worries, branding, liability, financing, planning, zoning, etc.  Plan carefully! Planning involves all the aspects of your business, from building, to loans, to permissions, to getting the word out there. Here are some tips to help you get started on your agritourism business.1. Get connected with your local tourism association and see where their goals lie for the area where you live. They can assist you with marketing, funding, planning and direct to other resources. They can also connect you to tour operators who can plan your stop as destinations.

2. Check with your local township office for the zoning of your property and ensure that you can have the type of agritourism business you want.  If you can’t but think that you should, it might be time to hire a professional architect or planner to discuss with the township the possibilities of rezoning and costs and work associated with it.  Just because the township says that you can’t does not mean that you shouldn’t try for a worthwhile cause.

3. Brand your agritourism destination. Why should people come to see you? What unique experience do you offer? Why do you want people to come to visit you? This might be a time to start thinking about your website, blog, twitter or facebook page. These days if your not online, you don’t exist.

4. Safety is an important thing to consider.  Make sure you think of prevention first and design your public areas to be safe and secure from tractors, heavy machinery, chemicals, or unattended animals. With the general public coming to your farm, you should also be covered by insurance just in case an accident should happen.

5. Begin designing, planning, budgeting. This is where a professional architect can help. They are trained to think of all the things that can go wrong, all the possible situations your farm might be in, and how to make your farm a great experience for public.  Remember the urban public have a different level of expectation when they come to visit the farm, you want to make sure they are comfortable as well as exposed to the ‘real thing’.  A professional can also help you navigate regulations and building codes that you would not normally need to meet if you were just building a barn.

6. Take out a permit, and build anything that needs improvement.

6. Make sure people know how to get to your farm. Back roads can be difficult for many who are not familiar with the territory. Signage from the township, tourism board, or region local food movement can help with this.

7. Open your doors and greet your guests!

Feel Free to check out #agchat on twitter, for more ideas. I am a big supporter of agritourism and think I have a lot to offer making our rural communities economically diverse, and connecting them back to the consumers. Feel free to contact me to chat about your ideas!

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1 Comment»

  gold account wrote @

Like ecotourism , agritourism focuses on travel that is low-impact and empowering to local communities, both socially and economically. Recognizing the need to diversify their farm products and supplement their agricultural incomes, many farmers consider agritourism as a viable option for the long-term sustainability of their farms. Agritourism can prop up an agricultural economy when local producers can no longer compete economically. The tourism takes place in a farm setting and is secondary to the primary agricultural operation.


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