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May 29, 2007 > How to be an 'agritourist'

How to be an 'agritourist'

Submitted By Brenda Dawson

Looking for a new twist on a California vacation? The UC Small Farm Program operates, an agricultural tourism website with information about hundreds of farms, ranches and wineries open to public visitors throughout the state.

Agricultural and nature tourism allows travelers a chance to visit working farms and ranches and can include experiences such as picking their own peaches, visiting a petting zoo, touring a vineyard, buying fresh produce, riding horses or exploring a wildlife preserve.

Kristin Reynolds, Small Farm Program representative, says that the increase in on-farm recreational opportunities - from harvest festivals to wedding facilities - suggests an increase in agritourism. In a survey of Northern California residents, she found that 68 percent of respondents reported participating in agritourism or nature tourism in the previous year.

"Agritourism can lead to increased revenues for small-scale family producers," Reynolds said. "It also offers visitors a chance to experience rural and agricultural landscapes, support farmers and ranchers directly, and celebrate the diversity of California's agriculture."

CalAgTour .org includes information about what activities are available at an agricultural site, as well as contact information and hours of operation. Interested tourists can browse through sites based on location, or they can search for a locale that provides the recreational, entertainment or educational experiences they're seeking. For farmers interested in starting their own agritourism operation, the Small Farm Program has publications available online and in print.

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