Agritourism Sows Seeds of Support

This is one of my favorite editions of Central Florida Ag News, though you may notice that I say that about a lot of them. To be honest, I just can’t pick a favorite.

Agritourism, sometimes referred to as agri-tainment, is the marriage of Florida’s top two industries — tourism and agriculture. The industry thrives through corn mazes, u-picks, farm tours, ranch tours, pumpkin patches, and various farm-to-fork efforts — you
name it. No matter what you call it, it’s a win-win for customers and the farmers.

The most obvious benefit of agritourism is the cash infusion for the farm-based businesses. The industry creates an alternative source of income for small- and medium-sized ag operations that are already facing numerous challenges. Money doesn’t grow on trees, but those trees (and bushes, vines, and animals) can certainly bring in some dollars that wouldn’t otherwise be coming in.

That’s not even the best part, though.

The bond agritourism fosters with the community is, in my opinion, what makes it all worth it. With each new generation, the public grows further removed from the food production process. Agritourism affords business the opportunity not only to educate visitors but also to become an integral part of the surrounding towns.

Any farm operator can tell you that the most rewarding result of interaction with the public is the chance to share the love and passion for ag. Years ago at my family’s blueberry farm in Medulla, we were excited to meet the visitors who came out for u-pick season. It was a time when we could show them who we were, what we did, and how it’s done. Over the years, occasional visitors became regulars, and the interaction with the community was further bolstered with the help of social media. I miss those family farm days for sure, but the experience I earned is priceless.

That kind of firsthand experience is kindling for strong relationships, thriving businesses, and a more thorough understanding of what Florida ag life is all about.

Thanks for reading Central Florida Ag News, and God bless.

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