Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Agri-Tourism in Tennessee? Hmm...

By Jim Beller

How to make more money on your farm was the basic thrust of an "agri-tourism" meeting held Tuesday at US Bank by the Tennessee Small Business Development Center.

"You're not going to make it in tobacco anymore," said Ken Givens, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture and longtime farmer. "You're going to have to have diversity to make things go. It's time for something like agri-tourism."

Agri-tourism is a state initiative to help farmers increase their income by adding tourist-attracting programs and to expand tourist income within rural communities.

Letting people pick their own produce or work the fields, enjoy hay rides, corn and hay mazes, music festivals, pumpkin patches and petting zoos are some of the things farmers do to get those visitors. "Anything that brings people to the farm to experience agriculture," said Pam Bartholomew, Agri-Tourism Coordinator for Tennessee.

Those reasons could be a desire for peace and tranquility, interest in the natural environment, nostalgia for rural heritage, rural recreation and inexpensive getaways. For example, Ritter Farms, located between Bean Station and Rutledge, is hosting one of its many music festivals.

"Bluegrass on the Farm" on July 28 will feature musical guests Larry Sparks, The Seldom Scene, Blue Highway and Walk Softly.

Read the full article in the Rogersville Review newspaper
Sow & Tell
Agri-tourism takes root in Dickson County as farmers branch out

The tourism aspect of agriculture has played a vital role in maintaining the industry’s bottom line.

When Dickson County farmer Steve Shafer told his wife he wanted to turn their Three Creeks Farm into a tourist destination, she was skeptical.

“My reaction,” says Beth Collier, “was, ‘Yeah right, who’s going to pay to go to a farm?’ ”

But after hearing more, Collier was convinced, and in 2005, the couple began offering tours of their 56-acre farm seven miles north of Dickson.

At Three Creeks Farm, visitors can touch and feed the animals, which include exhibition chickens and pheasants, Cashmere goats and registered Icelandic and Shetland sheep.

They also can learn about blacksmithing, demonstrated by Shafer, and spinning, demonstrated by Collier. During such heritage tours, the couple dresses in 19th-century costumes and allows visitors to hammer on the forge or spin with a hand spindle.
Read the entire article in Images of Dickson

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