Agritourism: What, where and why

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(Last updated on: 27/10/2021)

Agritourism is a type of tourism that is increasing around the world. With the increasing popularity of niche tourism, coupled with a growth in the desire to make our travels more sustainable, it is no surprise that the agritourism industry has grown significantly in recent years. But what exactly is agritourism and how does it work? Keep on reading to learn more….

What is agritourism?

Agritourism is a type of experiential travel. It involves doing something on your trip or holiday, and therefore experiencing the country or destination more so (and more deeply) then if you simply visited on a relaxing holiday. More specifically, agritourism involves doing something that is related in some way to agriculture.

Agritourism takes many different forms and comes in many different shapes and sizes. Some examples include:

  • Wine/vineyard tours
  • Glamping/camping
  • Quad biking
  • Horse riding
  • Fruit/flower picking
  • Volunteer tourism
  • Animal farms parks/safari parks
  • WWOOFING
  • Staying in a homestay located on a farm
  • Farm tours
  • Educational visits
  • Relaxation retreats
  • Hunting trips
  • Rural weddings/events
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Mazes
  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Nature centres

Agritourism comes with economic benefits for travellers and for other tourism stakeholders (farmers, ranch owners and so on). In fact, it is necessary for the survival of some small farms. It diversifies farmers’ income streams, meaning they are able to make money outside of their regular season. By farms offering agritourism opportunities, too, surrounding areas and local communities see an increase in people visiting or passing through. This of course means an economic boost for rural areas and is an example of a positive economic impact of tourism!

agritourism

Agritourism is also a more eco-friendly and immersive way to travel. It allows people to have experiences they may not get elsewhere, meet local people, see ‘off the beaten track’ locations and more. Agritourism can open our eyes to more sustainable practices, and this is very important in 2021. With the rise of ecotourism, it is no surprise that agritourism is becoming more popular as time goes on.

Learn more about agritourism from Pandurang, an agritourism expert, in this Tourism Teacher Talk.

Definition of agritourism

Agritourism is tourism that involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. It of course comes from the term ‘agriculture’. This is the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. 

A further definition of agritourism by the North Carolina Agritourism Activity Liability Law states that it is: Any activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, including farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities, or natural activities and attractions.

It doesn’t necessarily have to include travelling abroad. A simple visit to a petting zoo or local farm definitely counts as agritourism!

Types of agritourism

There are typically 5 types of agritourism. The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development labelled these as:

  • Direct-to-consumer sales 
  • Agricultural education
  • Hospitality
  • Recreation 
  • Entertainment 

I’ll dive a little deeper into each of these categories in the next section of this article. There are so many ways to experience and enjoy agritourism both in your local area and further afield. Sometimes – in fact, most of the time – you aren’t knowingly or purposefully participating in agritourism, but as there are so many examples you’ve probably been lucky enough to try one of them!

agritourism

Types of agritourism

Below you can find out more information about each of the 5 types of agritourism based on the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development definitions. There are likely to be examples that you have already experienced yourself, as well as others you might not have considered or even heard of yet…

Direct-to-consumer sales

This includes farm stands and ‘pick your own’ experiences. A farm stand is, as the name suggests, somewhere you can visit to buy produce directly from a farm. A farmers’ market is similar to this – somewhere you can visit to purchase goods from different farmers who have travelled to one location to sell their produce. This can range from eggs to cheese to meat. Farms also often have shops attached to them, selling produce as well as items from local crafters, makers and more. 

You can also visit farms to pick your own goods. In the spring this might be strawberries or other types of berries, and in the autumn months leading up to Halloween it’s all about pumpkin picking. If you’ve been to your local pumpkin patch with your little ones to snap some cute shots for Instagram (which is known as Instatourism, by the way), then you have participated in agritourism! And who could resist those gorgeous orange tones on the grid?

Did you know: the pick your own strawberries trend in the UK was pioneered by Ted Moult in 1961. He was a British farmer at Scaddows Farm near Ticknall, Derbyshire, who went on to become a radio and television personality.

Agricultural education

School trips to local farms fall under this category of agritourism. You might also, as an adult, visit a farm and enjoy a guided tour where a farmer or farm assistant explains different aspects of the farming industry to you. This would be a type of agritourism as well as a type of educational tourism, although it is just a small part of agricultural education as a whole – for example, tertiary education locations such as Reeseheath College in Nantwich, UK.

Hospitality 

In terms of agritourism as proper tourism, e.g something which involves travelling outside of your hometown for a holiday, this category is where it starts. From family-friendly interactive farms to relaxing adult only retreats complete with hot tubs, there are various different farm stay options across the world. You might take the kids camping somewhere with a petting zoo, or stay in a shepherd’s hut with your other half enjoying scenic views and milk in your tea courtesy of the cows on site. Farmstay.co.uk offers a huge range of accommodation on working farms in the UK, and this is likely to be replicated worldwide.

agritourism

You can actually book farming holidays, too. This is where you rock up at a farm and work in exchange for accommodation! WWOOF, or the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, facilitate this globally. They connect travellers with farmers, and you can have a really affordable holiday this way. As long as you’re prepared to put the work in, that is! There are farms you can work on in Mexico, Portugal, Serbia, Myanmar and so many more incredible locations.

Recreation

Hunting, horseback riding, meeting donkeys on the seafront… all of these are recreational types of agritourism. Whether you go on an organised hunt in a rural location or choose to ride a horse across the desert, these are types of agritourism. Hunting doesn’t just mean animals, either; you could go truffle hunting! Horseback riding is also something that is offered worldwide as a fairly standard tourist activity – from Petra in Jordan to the beaches in The Gambia, it is a great holiday activity. 

Entertainment 

The final type of agritourism is entertainment. Although the above categories are entertaining in themselves, this is slightly different. The entertainment category includes hay rides, which are popular in the US especially and involve a hay-lined truck or tractor ride. Other countries have started to adopt this activity, and it is also popular when it comes to Halloween – haunted hayrides are a great way to celebrate spooky season.

The advantages of agritourism

Agritourism is a fantastic way for farmers to diversify their income and to make some extra cash. With increasing issues such as droughts or increased competition, farmers are often susceptible to financial loss should they have a bad season. However, agritourism can be a great way to compensate for this!

The disadvantages of agritourism

Agritourism can have its disadvantages also. Tourists visiting farmland may have negative environmental consequences– trampling the ground or by frightening/displacing local wildlife. The introduction of agritourism can also take the attention away from traditional farm work. Over dependance on tourism is a bit problem in many parts of the world, and it is important that farm owners do not entirely abandon their traditional methods of making money… because should something happen to discourage tourists from visiting (an illness, political unrest, a natural disaster etc) then there would be no money coming in…

Examples of argritourism around the world

agritourism

Agritourism takes place all around the world, with more and more agritourism businesses popping up all the time. Here are some examples:

Agritourism in the Philippines 

Agritourism is popular in the Philippines. It has a gorgeous tropical climate that makes it well suited for this type of tourism, as well as fertile soil and plenty of natural resources. Their natural resources are abundant, and the people are lovely. Agritourism in the Philipines is a rich and fruitful experience, leaving you with lasting memories and a whole new view of this part of the world. According to Kapwa, a Filipino travel company, some of the country’s most popular agritourism activities include “vegetable- or fruit-picking, sampling of local wines, planting rice or root crops, visit to organic farms, milking cows, riding carabaos, catching fish, coffee bean picking, farm-to-table dining, and more.”

Agritourism in the UK

As mentioned earlier, farm stays are really popular in the UK. Being a country so full of towns and cities, people find it novel to stay somewhere more rural. With travel restrictions in place during the COVID pandemic, staycations (many of which were in rural areas) in popularity across the UK. From shepherd’s huts to glamping to cosy cottages, there are plenty of agritourism options across the UK.

Agritourism in Australia

Another place that sees a lot of agritourism is Australia. This is because second-year visa requirements say: to earn the right to a second year visa you must work in one of Australia’s more remote areas – the kind of places where travelling to the nearest town takes about as long as travelling to a whole other country in Europe. The job must be paid (in the past voluntary work was eligible) and the work hours must constitute a full-time job.

Farming work obviously falls into this category, and as hard as it is people say some of their best memories of Australia are from working on farms. It is a chance to meet other people who are travelling across the country, and you’ll feel proud of your hard work! Here is a story about agritourism in Australia written by a friend of mine.

Agritourism in India

Farming is vital to India and its economy, and as such agritourism has been incredibly beneficial to tourism in India. You can stay on many of the working farms across this stunning country. From milking cows to lazing in a hammock, walking through plantations and learning how to cook with produce from the farm itself, there are so many amazing opportunities when you enjoy what India has to offer in terms of its booming agritourism industry.

Further reading

If you have enjoyed reading this article, I am sure that you will love these too:

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Dr Hayley Stainton

Hi, I'm Dr Hayley Stainton

Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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