February 26, 2007
Purdue Extension offers resources to grow agritourismWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Landowners looking for a way to enter the agricultural industry can turn to agritourism to supplement their incomes with help from the free "Indiana Resource Guide for Agritourism."
The resource guide is a CD containing tips for starting an agritourism venture and also includes contact information for agencies and Web sites to help farmers along the way. It also contains a list of those who can offer either technical or financial assistance both at the county and state levels. Information from Purdue University, Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee is offered as well.
Farm tours and markets, u-pick farms, wineries, and bed and breakfast inns are among the state's most popular agritourism ventures.
Some of the most challenging issues for new agritourism business owners involve liability, marketing and business planning, said Jerry Nelson, Purdue Extension New Ventures educator.
"Usually the owners understand production very well," Nelson said. "What they need help with is promotion, partnerships and polices. There is usually much confusion with liability issues, creative ways to get people to come out to the farm and getting enough capital to start their business."
Owners of these facilities, responding to a 2004 state-funded survey, reported that identifying new markets, marketing and promotions were among the most challenging issues they face. They also identified networking and a limited support system as additional concerns. Liping Cai, director of the Purdue Tourism and Hospitality Research Center, received responses from 279 Indiana agritourism businesses in this survey. The resource guide was compiled to give information on these and other topics.
When neighboring farms work together, they can offer more attractions and products to the public, said Roy Ballard, Purdue Extension educator from Hancock County.
"Farmers look at agritourism to supplement their incomes and to bring the urban community to rural areas as a place for recreation, education or entertainment," Ballard said. "The CD is an information source for those who are interested in it so they can be aware of the possibilities and the pitfalls before taking too big of a leap."
Information also is available to help Indiana farmers diversify their farm products, especially when they are close to metropolitan areas. For example, it is easier to test a new product at an on-farm market because it doesn't have to be shipped and, if needed, the price can be adjusted quickly.
The CD's electronic format allows resources to be updated online in the future and links directly to helpful Web sites. There are maps for each area of the state, with links to local resources for all 92 counties.Sponsors for the guide's production include North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Indiana Small Business Development Center, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, Indiana Office of Tourism, Indiana Cooperative Development Center and the Indiana League of Resource Conservation and Development Councils Inc.
Guide for Agritourism is available for free at each of the Purdue Extension county and district offices. It also is available online at http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extbusiness/value.htm. For more information or to contact your local office, call (888) EXT-INFO.
Writer: Becki Francis, (765) 494-8402, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Roy Ballard, (317) 462-1113, email@example.com
Liping Cai, (765) 494-4739, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jerry Nelson, (812) 886-9582, email@example.com
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