Small (but growing) Midwest agritourism

U-pick cherries. Photo by stumptownpanda via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

As Camille Phillips recently reported for Harvest Public Media,

Farm-based tourism attractions like “u-pick” berry patches, wine tastings, dude ranches and guided hunting trips have operated in the [Midwest] for years. But California, Texas and Colorado have the lion’s share of this type of business, often called agritourism. Recently, however, Midwestern policymakers have begun planting the seeds to grow the agritourism industry in their states. And more farmers seem to be recognizing the potential for rural community building and additional income….

[For example,] Carolyn Raasch in Liberty, Mo., kind of fell into agritourism. In 1991 she opened Carolyn’s Country Cousins on her farm to sell the pumpkins and other produce she had been selling at a farmers market. That same year, a school asked if they could bring students out to see a farm. Now 17,000 schoolchildren tour the farm each year. Raasch has become a sort of ambassador for agriculture, educating the children and adults who come on the tours about farm life. “People used to be able to go to grandma’s and grandpa’s every weekend or aunt’s and uncle’s,” Raasch said. “And now, we are not one generation removed from the farm, we’re three and four generations removed from the farm. Some of them have never set foot on a farm and just played in the mud and played in the dirt, like we used to all the time.”

For more on the struggles as well as positive ripple effects of agritourism, check out the full audio or print versions of the story here.

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