Agritourism is a great way to get the public onto your farm and into your farm stand. This marketing practice gives the public an opportunity to better understand where their food comes from and to see the hard work that goes into the food that you produce by getting them into your fields or up close with your livestock. While there are several benefits to incorporating agritourism into your farm model, there are several health, safety, liability, and sometimes regulatory concerns to be aware of. Below is a list of resources for navigating these concerns.
- Researching all components of an agritourism plan before implementing the idea is a good way to avoid unexpected expenses, and to minimize risk. This training module gives an overview of agritourism in general, as well as marketing plans, financial management practices, and safety and risk mitigation for agritourism operations.
- Agritourism is a marketing model that works well for many farms, but not all. This farm assessment for agritourism tool is designed to help you identify if agritourism is right for your farm.
- Identifying the demand and potential for a successful agritourism operation is a crucial first step to take before starting a new agritourism activity on your farm. This 2005-2006 report identified opportunities, constraints, and linkages for agritourism enterprises in Maine.
- Understanding the regulatory requirements involved in allowing the public onto your farm, serving prepared food, and other aspects of an agritourism operation is important to ensure public safety and to avoid legal repercussions of not being in compliance. Contacting the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry is a good starting point for understanding these regulations.
- Utilizing animals as an attraction is a great source of entertainment for all, especially children. Being aware of the risks involved in direct contact with animals, particularly for young children who have not grown up on farms, is an important practice for identifying and mitigating potential risks. The below Petting Zoo Best Practices Checklist is a great first step for identifying these risks.
- Making sure that visitors to your farm are aware of the risks involved in visiting a farm is a great way to reduce those risks as well as liability. Signs such as this one from the Minnesota Department of Health are an easy and attractive way to share that message.