Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you and your loved ones will have a great holiday season. During this time of year we often look for things to do as a family. Remember that there is no better place to be than on a farm.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Food Safety Education and Planning for Agritourism Providers Webinar

Wednesday, December 14, Noon to 1pm
Free -- open to all interested

Hosted by: Lisa Chase, Londa Nwadike, and Ben Amsden
University of Vermont Extension and the Plymouth State University Center for Rural Partnerships

Understanding the latest in food safety is essential for farmers who sell products directly to consumers. This webinar will present the latest in food safety and food-based risk management issues specifically aimed at those involved in agritourism, including u-pick operations, farm stands, CSAs, prepared meals, and other activities where visitors and food come together on a farm. Whether you are a farmer or an Extension educator supporting farmers, the webinar will provide up-to-date information, best practices, and future directions in risk management and food safety in agritourism.

To access the webinar, please follow this link five minutes before the webinar begins:

For technical assistance during the webinar, contact Jessie Schmidt at (866) 860-1382, ext. 203 (Vermont calls only) or (802) 223-2389, ext. 203, E-mail:

Contact, or for more information about the webinar.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Give Farm Gifts for Christmas

Do you have hard to buy for people on your shopping list for Christmas? My special people will receive gifts from farms this year.

Let me share a few ideas: jams, jellies, cheese, wine, pecans, berries, a trip to an agritourism venture for the family, a Christmas tree,or in-season vegetables. There are many more possibilities.

Locate your farms on MarketMaker and make the right choice for your friend or loved one.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jane Eckert Hosting a FREE Webinar on Websites

"Winning Websites Mean Business," according to Jane Eckert. Jane is offering a free webinar on Monday, December 5th at Noon EST. Click here to register. This informative webinar will provide tips on making your website easy to navigate. Jane will also share designer tricks. Don't wait, sign up today!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Caroling Hay Ride

This is the perfect time of year to bring people to the farm to enjoy the Christmas season. Why not get the hay out of the barn arrange it on your trailer and hitch up to the tractor and take people caroling through our farm. Day or night caroling can be fun.

Serve cocoa, cookies or fire up the camp fire and serve roasted hot dogs and smores. Keep the menu simple and let everyone join in the fun by preparing their own meal.

Monday, November 7, 2011

LSU dairy field day shows milk from cow to cone

At a recent LSU AgCenter Dairy Field Day, participants learned how milk becomes icecream and cheese. This is a concept that can be taught in your agritourism venture. Milk the cow, show the milk and then with students participating show how to make icecream. has a quick and easy recipe that could easily be used with students. Click here for instructions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers/Agritourism/Blueberry Associations Conference and Tradeshow

Mark those calendars! The Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers/Agritourism/Blueberry Associations Conference and Tradeshow is slated for Nov. 14-16 at the Vicksburg Convention Center in Vicksburg, MS. The entire day of Nov. 16 is filled with opportunities to learn about agritourism. Click here for a complete agenda.

Registration and hotel information can be found on their website by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival 2011 in Jennings

The festival begins on Thursday, October 27 and concludes on Saturday, October 29. Click here for details. Learn about rice, birding and nature. By clicking on the link you can see the latest details to plan your trip. Registration is also available online.

Monday, October 24, 2011

MarketMaker Success Story Front Page News

The September edition of “Friends of MarketMaker e-News,” a newsletter published by the Food MarketMaker organization based in Illinois, showcased Louisiana's efforts to raise awareness of MarketMaker.

To read how Marguerite Constantine of WesMar Farms is using MarketMaker, click here for the newsletter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Farms As Host Sites for Events

Agritourism is all about re-imagining the family farm. We traditionally use farms to tell participants about the farm's history and talk about animals and horticulture.

Why not use farmland to host an event. Recently, I saw a photo of a bride with a big red barn in the backdrop. Photographers look for backgrounds and farms have a lot to offer. A photographer could host a workshop on your farm with plenty of outdoor landscapes.

Why not have a barn wedding and a reception to follow. Or host a birthday party or family reunion.

Consider your farmland as an open canvas and explore the many possibilities.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Crop Hunger Walk in Shreveport, Nov. 6

Get out your athletic shoes and join organizers for the Crop Hunger Walk in Shreveport on Nov. 6th; registration is at 2:30 p.m. with the walk beginning at 3 p.m. The route begins at Noel Methodist Church, 520 Herndon. This is a 5K run or one-mile walk. Proceeds benefit the Northwest Louisiana Food Bank. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkins--How Much Can I Charge?

Curry Farm's owners Sandy and Bentley Curry sell pumpkins and Christmas trees. Each individual agritourism operation that sells pumpkins does it differently. I want to share with you some pricing tips.

-Greg Clement, the agritourism coach, suggests that a farmer sell his pumpkins in one of three ways: by weight, size or armful.

-Some pumpkin growers set up road-side stands on their farms and advertise their location and hours. If the farmer is not on-site when shoppers come, the customer can make a selection from pumpkins lined up according to size and cost and place the appropriate fee in an honesty box nearby.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Registration Available On-Site for Paddling and Canoeing Workshop in Monroe

Tomorrow is the first day of the Paddling and Canoeing Workshop in Monroe on Sept. 28-29th. I've attached the agenda below. If you have not registered, no problem, you can do that between 8-9 a.m. each day of the workshop.

Hope to see you there.


September 28
Day 1

8:00 a.m. Registration
Continental Breakfast
Friends of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge Main bldg.

9:00 a.m.
Dwight Landreneau
LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Director

9:15 a.m.
Revenue Potential from Outdoor Recreational Enterprises
Dr. Daryl Jones

9:35 a.m.
Landowner Testimonial, Dr. Charles Allen

10:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m.
Managing Private Lands for Fee/lease Hunting in Louisiana, Dr. Don Reed

10:50 a.m.
Legal and Liability Concerns of Private Landowners
Mr. Mike Massey, PA Massey. Higginbotham, Vise, & Phillips PA’s

11:35 a.m.
Agritourism Limited Liability Legislation in Louisiana
Dr. Carrie Castille

11:50 a.m.
Marketing your Enterprise and Use of Market Maker
Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter Agritourism Coordinator

12:15 p.m. LUNCH

1:00 p.m. Educational Tour Begins

Stop 1:
Crawfish Production
Mrs. Amy Alford
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Mississippi State University

Stop 2:
Moist-soil Management
Brett Hortman, Refuge Manager
Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Stop 3:
Wetland Management for Waterfowl species
John Hanks Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Biologist

Stop 4:
Trail Design and Opportunities for Bird-watching Enterprises
Mr. Adam Rohnke
Wildlife Extension Specialist
Mississippi State University

3:00 p.m.
Ozark Society
Harvey Kennedy

3:15 p.m. Adjourn for the day
4:00 p.m.
After-hours events (optional)
Photography in the Wild
Speaker: Jenny Ellerbe, Photographer

Bird Watching at Black Bayou Lake Wildlife Refuge
Speaker: Mr. Adam Rohnke

Canoe Trip
John Ruskey, river guide from Clarksdale, MS
Registration and payment of $25 necessary

September 29
Day 2
8:00 a.m.
Registration for Day 2
Continental Breakfast
Friends of Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge

9:00 a.m.
Dora Ann Hatch

9:15 a.m.
Economic and Social Impacts of Paddling
Tom Potter
Executive Director, N.C. Paddle Trails Association

9:45 a.m.

Paddling Opportunities in Louisiana
Dr. Stuart Johnson
Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, State Parks

Keith Casio
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Scenic Rivers

Bob Strader
St. Catherine’s Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Gay Brantley Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge, Monroe, LA

Jean Mikeal
Tensas National Wildlife Refuge Tallulah, LA

10:45 a.m.

11:15 a.m.
Liability and Legal Considerations for Paddlers and Landowners
Rusty W. Rumley
National Agricultural Law Center, Fayetteville, AR

12:00 p.m.

12:30 p.m.
Starting a Paddling Business
Panelist will discuss why people want to paddle and how they got started in the business of paddling
Donovan Garcia Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer

John Ruskey Quapaw Canoe Company and river guide

Byron Almquist Canoe and Paddling Adventures in New Orleans area

1:30 p.m.
Development of Paddling Trails in Northeast LA- a story of exploration told by paddlers
Speakers: Members of the Northeast Ecotourism Advisory

1:45 p.m.
Paddling Success Stories From Across North Louisiana
Lynne Warnock-Dorsey Bayou Dorcheat

Stephanie Herrman Lake D’Arbonne

2:15 p.m.

2:30 p.m.
Paddling Success Stories from Across South Louisiana
Jennifer Ritter Bayou Teche

2:45 p.m.
Steven L. Windham, CEcD, CPA Inactive
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

3:00 p.m.
Closing Remarks

Program organizers:
Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprises’ Program

LSU AgCenter

Special thanks to Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge for hosting the event!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Managing Private Lands for Fee/Lease Hunting

Dr. Don Reed with the LSU AgCenter will be one of the featured speakers at the Paddling and Canoeing Business Opportunities and Leasing for Profit on Your Farm Workshop to be held in Monroe on Sept. 28-29 at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Reed will discuss management of lands to yield an income as part of the overall plan to increase outdoor recreation and agritourism on the family farm.

Revenue Potential for Outoor Recreation-One of the Topcis at the Paddling and Canoeing Workshop, Sept. 28-29 in Monroe

Dr. Daryl Jones will talk about the revenue potential to landowners who participate in outdoor recreation on Wednesday, Sept. 28th at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe during the Paddling and Canoeing Workshop.

Jones is the Coordinator of the Natural Resource Enterprises (NRE) Program and Associate Wildlife Extension Professor at the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. He provides information to landowners on sustainable natural resource enterprises (fee hunting and angling, wildlife watching, agritourism, nature-based tourism) and habitat management on working lands through workshops, field days, and web-based training.

Paddling and Canoeing Workshop Speakers

Hope you are planning to join us for the “Paddling and Canoeing Business Opportunities and Leasing for Profit on Your Farm,” at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe on Sept. 28-29.

The workshop will focus on agritourism enterprise development of wildlife and water systems on farmlands.

The first guest speaker, Dr. Charles Allen, will share his knowledge of native plants and talk about how he organized tours into forested areas.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Feather Down Farm Days

Recently, browsing online I ran across Feather Down Farm Days. According to their Facebook page, their mission is "Reconnecting friends and families with each other and with America's farmland by providing our guests the most unique vacation experience they can find in the U.S." This Dutch based business is located on the following farms in the U.S.:

- Kinnikinnick Farm Caledonia, Illinois (near Chicago)
- Ambrosia Farm Bridgewater, New York
- Stony Creek Farm, Walton, New York

Their host sites provide tents for up to six people; each tent has a wood-burning stove that provides a place to cook and provides heat during the cool days. The living space measures 484 square feet and includes a flushing toilet and spacious, comfortable beds. While there is no electricity, candles and lanterns provide light. Hot showers are available nearby.

According to their Facebook page they are constantly searching for new farm locations. E-mail there at or call them at (716) 226-6323. This maybe an opportunity for you to create supplemental income on your farm.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Register Now for Paddling Workshop in Monroe, Sept. 28-29

Outdoor recreation numbers indicate that 1.2 million Louisiana residents and nonresidents over the age of 16 enjoy hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.

The LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprises Program will offer a two-day workshop in Monroe on Sept. 28-29 entitled, “Paddling and Canoeing Business Opportunities and Leasing for Profit on Your Farm,” at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe.

The workshop will focus on agritourism enterprise development of wildlife and water systems on farmlands. Guest speakers on the first day will talk about revenue potential, outdoor recreational opportunities on farmlands, legal concerns, wetland management for water fowl, moist soil management, crawfish, fishing and bird-watching.

The two day event is $75 for two days; $50 for one day; and $25 (optional) for a canoe trip with nationally known John Ruskey in a 10 man canoe. Seating limited to 20; so register early.

For more details click here. To register click here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Agriculture in the Burbs?

Keith Hawkins with the LSU AgCenter just sent me the most interesting article on how the suburban planners are involving agriculture in their homesites.

Homeowners are being encouraged to use their backyard for farming. The developers are encouraging a back to agriculture theme to allow residents an opportunity to use community supported agriculture as a theme in their neighborhoods.

Read more by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dr. Charles Allen to Speak at Paddling and Canoeing Workshop in Monroe on Sept. 28-29

Dr. Charles Allen and wife are the owners of Allen Acres Bed and Breakfast in Pitkin. The bed and breakfast is surrounded by grounds with gardens featuring butterflies and hummingbirds. Dr. Charles Allen is a recognized authority on the native plants of Louisiana and will be speaking at the upcoming Paddling and Canoeing Workshop in Monroe on Sept. 28-29.

For more information on Dr. Allen and his bed and breakfast click here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New FREE Online Publication: 101+ Ways To Grow Your Farm With Agritourism

Greg Clement,owner of Mapleside Farms, has just released a FREE online publication entitled, "101 + Ways To Grow Your Farm With Agritourism." It is excellent! I suggest you click here and download your own copy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sell College Game Colors At The Farmers Market

As an LSU fan I'm always looking for ways to show my collegite pride. P. Allen Smith's latest web article, "Using Purple in the Garden + My Top Ten Purple Flowers," reminded me that people really are interested in showing their colors in the fall.

Catipalize on this idea for your farmers market flower station. Gather flower colors and make a pennet of your local college teams and sell flowers that help them make a statement at their game day parties. Don't forget your national football fans are most likely hosting a party at home.

For the latest in gardening, visit the home and garden section on the LSU AgCenter's website.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Food Award Accepting Nominations until Sept. 1

Producers of beer, chocolate, coffee, cheese, charcuterie, preserves, spirits and pickles should complete an application for "The Good Food Awards." The deadline to apply is September 1st. All of the information is available on our website:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paddling Workshop in Monroe, Sept. 28-29, Landowners Welcome

Outdoor recreation numbers indicate that 1.2 million Louisiana residents and nonresidents over the age of 16 enjoy hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.

The LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprises Program will offer a two-day workshop in Monroe on Sept. 28-29 entitled, “Paddling and Canoeing Business Opportunities and Leasing for Profit on Your Farm,” at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe.

The workshop will focus on agritourism enterprise development of wildlife and water systems on farmlands. Guest speakers on the first day will talk about revenue potential, outdoor recreational opportunities on farmlands, legal concerns, wetland management for water fowl, moist soil management, crawfish, fishing and bird-watching.

The two day event is $75 for two days; $50 for one day; and $25 (optional) for a canoe trip with nationally known John Ruskey in a 10 man canoe. Seating limited to 20; so register early.

To register click here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

CM Farms Opening October 1st in Dry Creek

The Melsheimer Family invites everyone to come to their new location in Dry Creek beginning October 1, 2011. The Melsheimer's moved CM Farms over the summer and have added lots of new fun agritourism opportunities. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Saddle Symposium in Alexandria

Join the LSU AgCenter
for the
Saddle Symposium
August 20, 2011
9:30 am
Rapides Parish Coliseum
5600 Coliseum Blvd.
Cost: $5

Learn about proper leather care, correct saddle fit, equine anatomy and movement, and the importance of a correctly fitted saddle. Ask saddle makers and veterinarians specific questions. Leather workers and saddle makers; come share techniques and tricks of the trade with other professionals following the event.

Speakers Include:

Randy Stewart
Roy Stewart
Maurice Marceaux
Dr. Laura Riggs

For more information contact Dr.Neely Heidorn at

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yellowstone National Park and Agritourism

I'm just returning from eight days in Yellowstone National Park. I had a great time viewing agritourism western style. I spent days hiking, viewing beautiful waterfalls overlooking green meadows, watching wildlife, listening to birds, walking through native plants and enjoying the panoramic views from a mountain top. Also there for enjoyment were paddling trips on rivers winding through pasturelands and horseback riding in meadows and on the mountain top. It was all agritourism.

We can do all those forms of agritourism with the exception of mountain viewing. I watched people spend their vacation dollars to enjoy an "experience" and "education" from the land.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Miss-Lou Regional Tourism Summit in Oak Grove, Aug. 9-11

Join us in Oak Grove to learn how to cluster agricultural, historical, culinary and nature-based events to increase tourism. Special guest Holly Beaumier from Florence, S.C. will be the first speaker on August 9th. She will introduce the idea that all destinations need to be connected to their region and a regional brand should tie destinations together. “Florence sits at the junction of I-95 and offers lots of overnight lodging, but depends on the rest of the region for reasons to stay more than one day,” said Beaumier. That prompted Beaumier and other tourism professionals in the region to seek assistance in mapping their assets. During her presentation she will share success stories on how they created a cluster and branded the region.

The summit is $150 or $75 for one day. Click here for registration.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Louisiana Young Ag Producers Program

This week young agriculture producers from across Louisiana are attending the Louisiana Young Ag Producers Program. Young ag producers stay on the LSU campus and are given a variety of learning experiences to prepare them for their future in agriculture.

This year the producers asked to learn more about agritourism. The producers are shown discussing how they will incorporate agritourism in their farming operations with their existing assets.

To learn more about this exciting program, contact Dr. Brad Leger with the LSU AgCenter.

These bright ag producers came up with some great ideas.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Watermelons-Great Choice for Summer Income

Growing and selling watermelons for extra summer income is popular in 15 parishes in Louisiana. Roadside stands and Farmers Markets had a great supply for the July 4th weekend.

Click here to read about 2011 harvest.

Log onto the LSU AgCenter website to learn more about planting and best varieties.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

QR Codes and Agritourism

Jane Eckert's latest article, "Smart Farms are Thinking Smart Phones," is a great read. Jane explains the new "QR" or quick response coding. She also provides links to farmers who are already using the new phone technology to market their businesses.

To use this technology individuals must have a reader application installed on their smart phone. Point your phone at the QR code and receive immediate information. It's FREE and right at your fingertips.

Click here to read Jane's article.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Arkansas Agritourism Conference

Our neighbors in Arkansas will be hosting their first Agritourism Conference on August 18-19, 2011 at the Holiday Inn Airport Conference Center, 3201 Bankhead Drive, Little Rock, AR.

For more details visit,

Monday, July 4, 2011

FREE Facebook Marketing How-To-Class in Ruston

In today's world, business owners must use every tactic available to market themselves. If you live in North Louisiana, there is a FREE class entitled, "5 Steps to a Successful Facebook Business Page,"  being offered at the Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center on July 12th from 9-11 A.M.

The Louisiana Tech Enterprise Center is located at 509 W. Alabama, Ruston.

Pre-registration is suggested. Call 318-797-5144 or email by July 10.

Hurry, seating is limited.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Find a Farmers Market Near You on MarketMaker

Approximately 149 farmers markets or road-side stands selling fresh produce are listed  on MarketMaker; find one near you and enjoy fresh produce grown close to home. On the MarketMaker homepage select find a "farmers market."  Refine the search by choosing a zipcode. A listing will pop up and you will be on your way to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

MarketMaker connects producer to consumer and consumer to producer. So if you are a producer, locate a market and set up a stand and sell your produce.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Travel to a Blueberry Farm

Nineteen blueberry farms are listed on MarketMaker; find one near you and enjoy those delicious dark berries that are so good for you. On the MarketMaker homepage find a farmer, refine your search by choosing "fruit and nuts," further refine your search by selecting "blueberries." A listing will pop up.

Recently, I visited a blueberry farm and got to see the blueberry picker in action. The picker gently shook the blueberries from the bush and as you can see a farmer rides along the picker and switches out trays and removes green berries as the picker goes down the row. It was fascinating to watch.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

LEC promotes Horseback Riding

The Louisiana Equine Council (LEC) according to its website, "Is an organization established to create a unified voice for all breeds and disciplines, to address industry issues, and to provide for the growth and development of the entire Louisiana equine industry."

Horseback riding is just one of the many agritourism ventures included in the Louisiana Agritourism Limited Liability Legislation passed in 2008.  Earlier today, I talked with Maurice Tyne, a member of the LEC.

Maurice and LEC have been working with the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to locate places where equestrians can ride, stable and overnight on trail rides.

Anyone with horses and interested in agritourism should visit the LEC website and learn more about their activities. A complete listing of members is attached to the website; call someone in your area and find out more.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Can I make jams and jellies in my home and sell them?

A special Louisiana law, La R.S. 40:4.9, passed in 1991 and amended in 1995 and 1997, provides an opportunity for an individual to make jams and jellies in their home instead of a commercial kitchen if their sales do not exceed $5,000 in a year. The state sanitary codes do not apply to these individuals, but the law should not be construed to imply that any unwholesome foods should be sold.

Louisiana has lots of luscious berries that can be used to make jellies and jams. Recently at the Sunflower Trail in Gilliam, LA I had an opportunity to see lots of people selling homemade jams and jellies.

Making the jams and jellies in your home and then selling at farmers markets is a great way to start a small business.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunflower Festival in Gilliam, LA on Saturday, June 4th

This festival is for friends and family. Get a chance to pick sunflowers and make some great pictures. For more information, call Gilliam Mayor Helen Adger at 318-296-4393 or Karen Logan at 318-296-4303.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blueberries for Sale

It's blueberry season and if you don't have a blueberry bush, check where you can purchase blueberries by logging onto MarketMaker. Select find a "farmer." Then further define your search by selecting "fruits and nuts" then click on "fruit product type" and select "blueberries." A listing of farms that sell blueberries will appear.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Farmers Markets Opening Soon

From mid-May to mid-June most summer markets will open for business.

Growers selling in the markets will have lots of competition. So, using your best customer relations skills will be important. Below are some tips:

-Look neat, clean and happy to see your customers. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. People will judge your products by your appearance. If you are a farmer, look the part; wear clean jeans, a fresh shirt or coveralls. Identify yourself by wearing a name tag or a shirt with your farm’s logo.

-Engage customers quickly. Always assume a standing position, instead of a sitting position. Standing allows you to move toward the customer with a greeting. Greet the customer with a “Hello, good to see you today,” or “What are you hungry for today?” These questions will help you begin a dialogue with the customer.

-Keep consistent hours. Arrive when the market opens; stay until the market closes. If you are experiencing growing problems due to drought or too much rain, let customers know that you are experiencing problems which may keep you from having their favorite produce. Suggest where they can purchase until you have those products again.

-Be informative about your products. Customers like to ask questions about how produce is grown, when it’s in season and how to serve or prepare certain produce. Be as informative as possible. If you are unable to answer some of their questions, refer them to the LSU AgCenter.

-Exceed customers’ expectations. Carry heavy items to cars, provide recipes, give an extra hand-ful of the product they are purchasing. All these go a long way in making the customer feel valued and appreciated. Everyone loves something for nothing.

-Apologize when things go wrong. It’s difficult to make everyone happy all the time. Realize there will be days or moments when things go wrong and a quick apology even though you have done nothing wrong will show the customer you value their business.

-Thank customers for their business. A simple thank you lets customers know you are appreciate and want to have the opportunity to serve them again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Potato Digging--Great Opportunity for Agritourism Venture

Potato Digging would be a great activity to add to your agritourism business. Very few people have the opportunity to dig potatoes. So many people have no idea that a potato is a root vegetable.

The LSU AgCenter provides an online planting guide that suggests when to plant and harvest potatoes.

If you open your farm to the public, advertise your potato digging day. Invite guests to come and help throw the potatoes in the middle of the row after the tractor disks them from the soil. Let guests sort the potatoes by size and load the potatoes in baskets.

This could be a fun day for people of all ages.

Either charge people for the experience or sell them your harvest.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

USA Today Lists Farm Haycations

Larry Bleiberg from USA TODAY wrote in his May 13, 2011 column about "10 Great Places for a Rural Haycation." Larry encourages people to consider a farm vacation over the annual trip to the beach. He highlights things to do at each destination and provides contact information.

If you have considered opening your farm or ranch to visitors for overnight stays this is a must read for you. The Farm Stay US group would be happy list your property and it can also be listed on MarketMaker. These are two great marketing resources to get the word out that you are open for business.

Not sure, if this is for you? Experiment by inviting someone for an overnight stay. If you and your family enjoy sharing your agriculture knowledge and hospitality this could be a new avenue for supplemental income.

Want to learn more about how to set up a farmstay? Read the farm stay  manual from Minnesota that was done in  collaboration with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, Renewing the Countryside, and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Signs Tell Your Story

Your sign represents your business; its travelers first impression of who you are. Make sure your signs are:

-in good condition; clean and well positioned

-legible with plain lettering for easy reading

-not too busy with graphics; remember people are driving

Friday, April 29, 2011

Prince Charles and Louisiana Rice Family in Documentary Film on NBC

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the French Market in New Orleans celebrating "Gulf Alive," while I was there I purchased some brown jasmine rice from Kurt and Karen Unkel owners of Cajun Grain. The rice was wonderful, it had a nutty flavor. They sell the rice directly off the farm or on  Amazon.

I also learned that Kurt was filmed for a documentary for NBC's Green Week last fall and that footage also featured Prince Charles of Wales. The documentary is about how individuals are living in harmony with nature. Some of the film's footage is on their farm.

Check out their website for more information.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dewberries are Ready for Picking

I had the best holdiay weekend! My husband and I found some dewberries along the roadside off the main highway in a rural area, stopped and picked them and later made a mouth watering dewberry cobbler. The experience I just described was one people will pay money to have; it's a great idea to add to your agritourism venture portfolio.

That same weekend we picked mayhaws from one of our four small trees; only one will bear this year, but next year, we will have plenty of mayhaws to make our own jelly; yet another great agritourism experience.

Berry picking time is a perfect time to invite guests to your farm to experience the joy of taking food from the farm to the table.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More on the Mayhaw Conference on April 16th in Dry Prong

The site of the 16th Annual Mayhaw Conference is the Woodmen of the World Lodge in Dry Prong.  The lodge is located at 3232 Dyson Creek Rd., Dry Prong, LA 71423. The lodge is located on the north side of Dyson Creek Rd. on the east edge of Dry Prong.

The agenda is as follows:
8:15- 9:00 a.m. Registration
Moderator John Pyzner
9:00 – 9:10 a.m. Welcome & Announcements
Paul McLaughlin

9:10 – 9:45 a.m. Marketing and New Market Maker Program
Dora Ann Hatch

9:45 – 10:15 a.m. Mayhaw Health Benefits (Antioxidants)
Charlie Graham

10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Savvy Mayhaw Irrigation
Jackie Robbins

10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Mayhaw Cooking Contest Results
Jackie Harville

10:45– 11:15 a.m. Break

11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Rare Fruits Q and A
Ron Couch

11:30 – 12:15 p.m. Mayhaw Grower Panel
Moderator – John Pyzner

Participants – Billy Craft, Bubba Hoggatt, Spec Sherril, Bill Jackson

12:15 – 12:30 p.m. Louisiana Mayhaw Association, Inc. Business Meeting
Paul McLaughlin

12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Lunch

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mayhaw Conference and Field Day April 16

Dry Prong's Woodmen of the World building will be the site of the mayhaw conference and field day this year.
Conference registration begins at 8:30 a.m. For details, e-mail:  or  visit the mayhaw website.

Talks and demonstrations will provide helpful information for growing and maintaining the mayhaw. The mayhaw  is a fruit about 1/2" to 1" in diameter and it's harvested mid-April through early May.  Its fruit color varies from bright red to reddish yellow and makes tasty jelly. Mayhaw jelly is the official state jelly of Louisiana.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Community Day at Starr Home Place in Oak Ridge

Step back in time and visit Starr Home Place. On April 9th join them for Blacksmithing Hammer-In. It's a chance to see people use their creative skills and enjoy the vistas at Starr Home Place. Their museum has tools they allow you to use and have an experience.

For more details, click here then go to "events."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Farmers Markets On Increase Since 1994

With concerns over where food comes from and how it is grown, more Americans are seeking farmers market for locally grown produce.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Directory of Farmers Markets, a 16% increase in markets occurred from 2009 to 2010. USDA has tracked farmers markets statistics since 1994 and each year there is an increase in the number of farmers markets.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flowers Whether Picked or Planted Offer Income Potential

How do you pick the perfect cut flower to sell at the farmers market or roadside stand? Here are some things to consider:

  • Grow flowers that are easy to grow like sunflowers, zinnas, daisies.
  • Grow flowers that have stems so that you can bunch them for sale.
  • Offer a variety of colors.
  • Bunch flowers with mixed colors to reflect holidays like Fourth of July.
In Louisiana, only licensed florists are allowed to arrange flowers for sale. So be careful to bunch your flowers and place them in a vessel containing water to keep them fresh.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Louisiana agriculture up 20 percent in 2010 to $9.9 billion

Louisiana agriculture contributed $9.9 billion to the state’s economy in 2010 – up 20 percent from the year before, according to the latest figures compiled by the LSU AgCenter in its annual Ag Summary.

The biggest gainers in 2010 were the same sectors that declined the most in 2009 – poultry and forestry – according to John Westra, LSU AgCenter economist. He compiles the Ag Summary, which has been done every year since 1978, from reports prepared by extension agents across the state. To learn more click here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rockin R Ranch Takes to the Road

The Rockin R Ranch in West Monroe just built a traveling barn to take their farm animals to schools. Check them out on Facebook or give them a call at (318) 388-2527 or 388-1638. They do farm tours and birthday parties.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Farm Stays

I am just returning from a week in Charleston, S.C. where I attended presentations from around the U.S. on many topics related to agritourism. One of those topics, farm stays, is so perfect for many people in Louisiana.

According to Scottie Jones, one of the founders of Farm Stay U.S., the interest in the rural farm experience is on the rise. Farm stays have been popular in Europe, Australia and New Zealand for years.

According to Smith Travel research, the average lodging rate in the U.S. is $97. Scottie showed us pictures of farms listed on her website:

Scottie and her husband Greg enjoy the supplemental income they receive from being a host and started a website to help others develop their own enterprises.

Scottie is a wealth of information on this topic and is a delight to talk to. Her e-mail is

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marketing Tip Using Photography

Invite people who visit your agritourism operations to send you photos. Add these photos to your Facebook, blog site or website. People will enjoy showing others that they are on your site. Remember to ask their permission to use photos for marketing purposes.

Have a photo contest. Encourage visitors to send their most memorable experience at your operation. Invite a newspaper photograher or someone in your community interested in photography to be the judge. Post winners online. Again, ask for permission to use photos.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jonquil Jubilee

Jonquil Jubilee, March 5, 2011 in Gibsland
Little yellow flowers (daffodils) are everywhere! Several gardens and homes are on tour. The Lorris and Elaine Carter home is featured on a tours with 30,000 or more of these beautiful daffodils.
To learn more about the event,  log onto:
or call (318) 843-6228

Friday, February 18, 2011

River Guide, John Ruskey, To Speak in Winnsboro, February 23, 2011; 2-4 P.M.

John Ruskey, a river guide and canoe builder, will speak about identifying criteria for canoeing and kayaking trails on Wednesday, Feb. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the LSU AgCenter’s Scott Research and Extension Center in Winnsboro. (Directions below)

Ruskey of Clarksdale, Miss., designs and builds canoes with a particular finesse in giant voyager style canoes and hand-hewn dugouts. In 1998 he started Quapaw Canoe Company to open access to the splendors of the Mississippi River. Quapaw provides guided expeditions by kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle boards on the Lower Mississippi River and some of its tributaries, including the Big Sunflower, Yazoo, Coldwater, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha and the lower reaches of the White and Arkansas rivers and the Atchafalaya River.

Ruskey will discuss the potential for paddling businesses in Louisiana, how he formed his company, his business plan and lessons learned.

This event is FREE and open to the public. For more information contact Dora Ann Hatch at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229 or e-mail her at

Directions:The LSU AgCenter’s Tom H. Scott Research & Extension Center is located at 212A Macon Ridge Road, immediately south of Winnsboro on Highway 15, across from Dennis Crain Dodge. The office is on the west side of the highway. Call (318) 435-2903 for assistance.  We are in the first building on the right after entering the LSU AgCenter property.

Monday, February 14, 2011

USDA Animal Welfare Act Applies to Agritourism Operations with Animals

I have just recently learned that agritourism operators who use animals as part of their agritourism venture are subject to the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act regulations.

If your agritourism venture charges people to see animals, pet them or feed them you need a license as an exhibitor. If you do not have a license from USDA and are engaging in this practice, you could be subject to a $10,000 fine.

To safeguard your operation, you should call Dr. Lynn Bourgeios, veterinary medical officer with USDA animal care. Dr. Bourgeois can be reached by calling his office at (985) 537-0691 or by calling his cell at (240) 461-9182. He travels the state, so please leave a message. In the event that none of these numbers work call Mike Long at (970) 494-7471 to learn how to become certified. If no answer, call the main number (970) 494-7478 and ask to speak with someone concerning USDA certification under the Animal Welfare Act.

The process requires completion of an application and an inspection. During the inspection, officials will check on husbandry issues, veterinary care program, where animals live and review how animal food is stored.

Please call USDA if you are not licensed so you can begin pre-certification so that you can continue your operation without concerns over fines.

If you need further assistance, please contact me at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229 or

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soil Testing Available

To get the highest yield from your garden, do a soil test. Soil testing and Lab Analysis are available from the LSU AgCenter. The Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Laboratory (STPAL) offers a variety of soil tests and plant tissue diagnostic tests to meet your planning needs for profitable production. Fees charged at STPAL are cheaper than any commercial laboratory on similar tests.

Contact your local Extension Service for details.

Monday, January 31, 2011

National Agricultural Law Center

The National Agricultural Law Center is staffed by a team of law and research professors, lawyers, other specialists, and graduate assistants from the University of Arkansas School of Law Graduate Program in Agricultural Law to provide information to the agricultural community.

Click here to enter a reading room that has lots of information on many different topics.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Start Planning for the Farmers' Market Today

It's almost February and time to think June Farmers' Market openings. What will you have to sell and how much should you plant? Click here for more information.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Agritourism Ideas for Forestlands

While your forest stands are growing consider diversifying your operation to include one or more of the following: hiking/nature walks, hunting, scavenger hunts, horseback riding, camping, wildlife viewing or bird watching. A cabin in the woods would create and wonderful farm stay for persons trying to escape city life and reconnect with nature. For more information on any of these ideas, contact Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator, at (318) 927-9654 Ext. 229 or e-mailing her at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding brings back so many favorite memories for me. My family had five horses and lots of friends who visited our farm to enjoy them. Go to HORSES & HORSES to find a stable near you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Latest Louisiana Agritourism Connection Edition Available

Visit the LSU AgCenter's agritourism website for information on Louisiana agritourism topics. Keep abreast of the latest trends and helpful information by reading the quarterly newsletter, click here.