By Kay Whatley, Editor
The NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) wants to know what farms across North Carolina are offering for residents and visitors. Tell them what your farm is doing, and they can help to spread the word. Win-Win.
Farms can join the NC Farms “Welcoming Visitors Registry” for free. The NCDA&CS goal is to “maximize your farm’s exposure and additional revenue stream opportunities” by promoting your farm’s features.
The Short Version for Busy Farmers
To best match potential visitors with your farm’s offerings, complete an online Agritourism form for your event(s). The form takes a few minutes. You’ll be asked for details about what visitors can do. Submit a seasonal offering, a one-day event, a rental accommodation in your back pasture, or other “tourist” opportunity. Let NCDA&CS know what’s going on.
Register your farm with the ag deparment “Welcoming Visitors Registry” via the NC agritourism link “Farmers, register your farm’s Agritourism activities TODAY“. You’ll have opportunities throughout the year to add events to the NCDA&CS Monday Marketing Message and to submit farm events. It’s free, and it will help NCDA&CS to encourage more people to visit your farm.
Ed. Note: Readers, please pass along the link to this article, or email the paragraph above to a farmer you know. Let’s get Eastern NC farms — and statewide farms — to sign up with the NCDA&CS. Help a farmer out.
More Details for When You’re Less Busy
As editor of The Grey Area News, we receive notices regarding farm agritourism events across the state. Last month, the list of events included only one Eastern NC farm! Communicating with Annie Baggett at the ag department, I found out their marketing program for farms is voluntary. Eastern NC farm activities weren’t listed because the farms had not provided information to NCDA&CS.
Thus, this article was created. With guidance from Ms. Baggett, The Grey Area News is reaching out to farmers — especially in Eastern NC — to ensure local agritourism events get the attention that they deserve. The hope is that farmers will read this article and sign up for the Welcoming Visitors Registry.
If you’re a reader, and know a farmer, pass along the link. Help spread the word, so that NCDA&CS can sign up Eastern NC farmers, and market farm happenings.
Agritourism is an important part of the state’s agricultural revenue. According to Annie Baggett, who is the Agritourism Marketing Specialist for the state:
“Agribusiness is North Carolina’s top industry. There are about 49,500 farms in the state. The USDA tracks Agritourism as the fast growing segment for small farms in America. The efforts to get the word out to residents and tourists about farm events in a consistent, cohesive way is a challenge. Efforts are underway to aggregate such content in real time to benefit all farms — how, when, where and why they do business — and most importantly, as a vehicle to spotlight our rural community’s assets as destinations. Such actions will spur community vibrancy as a whole through all of the ways that farms create revenue streams for themselves and how farms are interconnected in communities through local food channels, shops, restaurants, events, etc.”
Farms do not need to join any special programs to get NCDA&CS marketing assistance.
NCDA&CS supports all farms, so no need to be a part of any program. Getting connected to the department, however, means that farms have opportunities for free programs, services, and can be the first-to-know about marketing cost-shares and other funding opportunities.
According to Ms. Baggett:
“The biggest challenge is working with farms to submit their content.”
If your farm is holding a festival, or a shearing day, or has you-pick, don’t you want more people to know about it? Let the NCDA&CS marketing engine work for you. Sign up for the Welcoming Visitors Registry.
It may take a few minutes to sign up, but it can be worth your time if it draws more visitors.
What’s “Agritourism” Anyway?
What kinds of farm activities are considered agritourism? According to NCDA&CS, there’s quite a lot of them:
Pick Your Own Farms, Farm Roadside Stands, Nurseries, Flowers, Barnyard Animals, Fiber Animals, Farm Riding Trails, School Field Trips, Summer Camps, Farm Vacations, Walking Trails, Crafts, Camping, Bird Watching, Fishing, Hunting, Picnics, Parties, Weddings, Honeymoons, Farm Bed and Breakfasts, Country Cabins, Retreats, Hay Rides, Mazes, Pumpkin Patches, Historic Farms, Quilt Barns, Reunions, Museums, Special Events, Slow Food, Dining, Vineyards, Wineries, Organic, Holiday Farms, Christmas Trees, and Holiday Crafts.
With any questions, email Annie Baggett, and sign up for the Welcoming Visitors Registry. It’s free. Plus, several times a year, agritourism events are sent out to newspapers like us and we help to spread the word too.
Want to know more? There will be a webinar on the benefits of Agritourism May 30, 2018, and it will be available for viewing afterward. See www.ncgrowingtogether.org/events
Resources for Agritourists
Interested in visiting an NC farm or arranging an educational trip for a school group?
- See the online NC Agritourism farm listing by NCDA&CS.
- A project just getting started in a few counties: the VisitNCFarms smart phone App. Eventually, this app will include farms from more counties, and be available from iTunes or the Android store. This app came about through the NCDA&CS efforts to market NC farms.
- Watch this website (or search for “agritourism”) to find upcoming farm events.
- Watch for, or use, the hashtag #VisitNCFarms on social media.