Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Agritourism

My father-in-law grew up on a farm, and is obviously used to rural life. A few years ago, he ended up shaking his head when his son-in-law (me) and his daughter (my wife) spent a lot of time on a cross-country trip taking pictures of hay bales.

I wonder what he'd think about agritourism.

I had never heard the term until I saw Sheila Scarborough use it, so I had to check it out. A little over a year ago, Scarborough commented on this Sally Berry post, and I checked out what Berry said.

Agritourism has been loosely defined as any activity or agriculturally based operation that brings a visitor to a farm or ranch. People are realizing that they have been disconnected from their food sources and the opportunity to spend some time in a rural setting and watch and learn how their food is grown has growing appeal.

Anyone who has actually worked on a farm for a living probably thinks the idea is ridiculous:

My two adult sons spent one summer helping a local farmer with his hay operation and they would laugh if they knew that there are people out there looking for a chance to work 14 hour days in the July heat stacking 50 pound bales of hay to the top of a barn! Nonetheless, people are looking for vacations that connect them back to the land and their food.

After all, what is a vacation? A change in routine. And for a suburban or urban person, a stint on a farm would certainly be a change in routine.

In her Facebook feed, Scarborough mentioned two initiatives (although there are certainly many more): the Arkansas Agritourism Initiative (Facebook page here) and Oklahoma Agritourism (Facebook page here).
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