Sunday, December 30, 2012

Report Agritourism in 2012 Agricultural Census

All farmers and ranchers should receive a Census form in the mail by early January. Completed forms are due by February 4, 2013. Farmers can return their forms by mail or online by visiting a secure website, Federal law requires all agricultural producers to participate in the Census and requires NASS to keep all individual information confidential.
For more information about the Census, visit or call 1-888-4AG-STAT (1-888-424-7828). The Census of Agriculture is your voice, your future, your responsibility.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Announcing Winter Webinar Series

Join us for the upcoming winter series:

eXtension - Entrepreneurs and Their Communities

Winter Webinar Series

Second Thursday of every month

2:00 p.m. (ET); 1:00 p.m. (CT); 12:00 p.m. (MT); 11:00 am (PT)

January 10 - Getting Action from Website Landing Pages

Ever wonder why some online businesses seem to have all the luck - well it may not be luck after all! Their content marketing payoff may be because their 'landing pages' encourage the customer to take 'action'. Your landing pages can mean the difference between profit and loss! Learn how to send your customers to the right page and create the appropriate call to action! 


Presenter - Jay Jenkins, UNL Extension Educator


February 14 - Top 10 Trends and Cool Tools in Social Media

Julie Fox joins us again this year for a popular session on what's new in social media. This fast moving session goes beyond the latest statistics to demonstrate what's working and show you how to benefit from the latest social media trends and tools.


Presenter - Julie Fox, Ohio State Extension


March 14 - Pinterest for Your Business

Just when you thought you’d gotten a handle on social media by getting on Facebook and maybe giving Twitter a try, along comes Pinterest. Pinterest is now the number three most-popular social network in the U.S., behind only Facebook and Twitter, according to Experian’s Digital Marketer Trend and Benchmark Report.  Thru this webinar an introduction to what Pinterest is and why you should use it for your business will be presented. Also discussed will be setting up a Pinterest account, how to interact, and how to create pin boards.


Presenters Tara Gross is a young entrepreneur and owner of Country Drawers in Cambridge, Nebraska and Connie Hancock is an Extension Educator from UNL Extension.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Networking Association for Farm Direct Marketing and Agritourism

Charlie Touchette extends an invitation for you to attend the 2013  NAFDMA meeting in Portland, Oregon, February 1-6, 2013.  Registration for this meeting would make a great gift for a person interested in direct sales and agritourism. To learn more, go to their website:

Several of our agritourism operations in Louisiana attend this event every year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Minute Gifts-Go to MarketMaker

It's the holiday season and I'm scrambling for last minute gifts for family and friends.  This year I decided to make my gifts agricultural. It's pecans for all my male relatives/friends and plants for my female relatives/friends. You can find a great selection of what you are looking for by logging onto MarketMaker. This online shopping guide will help you narrow your choices of items and locations to purchase. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

John Folse Radio Show Features Becnel Plantation Wines

Donald Becnel of Becnel Plantation, LLC of Vacherie was a special guest on the 12/8/12 broadcast of John Folse’s “Stirrin’ It Up!” radio show over the weekend. Listen to the show to learn about the history and making of his dry fruit wine. He shares how he started and the assistance he received along the way and talks about his marketing approach. Click here to listen to the interview. He is listed on MarketMaker.  For a look at this website click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Time to Buy a Christmas Tree

Tis the season to experience the fun and joy of Christmas tree shopping with the family. I can remember many Christmases on our farm in Dodson. My Dad and I were the Christmas tree scouts all year long and we would tag the perfect tree and then find our way back into the woods in December to chop it down. Today, shoppers can travel to tree farms and enjoy the same family experience I did as a child. I can remember circling the tree checking for open spots before, I said, "This is the one." Today, commercially grown trees have no open, void spots, so all the trees are perfect, just select a height and head to the check out counter. For a listing of Christmas Tree farms log onto MarketMaker and/or Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

Friday, November 30, 2012

Internet Marketing: Just About As Important As a Tractor!

I love the title of this seminar! We all know that in today's world it's all about having that online presence. Jane Eckert will be leading this seminar. To register, click here. This webinar is on Monday, December 3rd; register now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recreational Horseback Riding Workshop

Mark your calendar for Friday, January 18, 2013 to attend the "Recreational Horseback Riding for Fun and Profit" workshop. The workshop will be held during the Ag Expo at the Ike Hamilton Center in West Monore. Guest speakers will discuss revenue potential associated with horses, general horse training, horse psychology, selection and use of tack, managing liability and using social media as a marketing tool. Registration fee is $10 in advance (payable on or before Jan. 11, 2012) or $15 at the door. For information, contact: Dora Ann Hatch, LSU AgCenter, Agritourism Coordinator, at (318) 927-9654 x 229 or e-mail her at: Visit our webpage:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nominations Open for Farmer of the Year

Nominations for the 2013 Louisiana Farmer of the Year award are being accepted now through Jan. 4. Application forms can be obtained at any LSU AgCenter parish extension office or online at of the year. Contest sponsors are Louisiana Radio Network, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.Producers from all areas of agriculture are eligible for nomination. To learn more click here. For more information, contact Don Molino at Louisiana Network at (225) 291-2727, ext. 210, or

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Use MarketMaker to Shop for the Holidays

Whether you are shopping for meat, veggies or flowers, MarketMaker is the place to search. MarketMaker will direct you to those who can supply you with fresh produce or show you where farmers markets are in your area. This website is a one-stop shop when it comes to finding Louisiana grown products. Give it a try today by logging onto:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Louisiana Sweet Potatoes Showcased on Delivery Trucks

Talk about creative advertising, the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission is displaying their product on delivery trucks from November through March. the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission’s logo and products, along with the “Be Loyal, Buy Local” tagline and the Commission website can all be found on the side panels. These trucks will travel to grocery stores located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Lafayette and Lake Charles, with deliveries being made in front of stores, rather than at loading docks located in the back in order to ensure ultimate point of purchase visibility. For more information regarding Louisiana sweet potatoes, as well as for delicious sweet potato recipes, visit the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission’s website at Perhaps other growers should consider similar strategies.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why Do People Travel to Farms?

If you own or operate an agritourism venture, you should understand what motivates travelers. According to research by Shaw and Williams (1994) people are motivated to travel for the following reasons: • Enhanced kinship relations • Escaping • Resting and relaxing • Improving health and well-being • Celebrating a special occasion To learn more read: "Agritourism: An Economic Opportunity for Illinois" by Bruce E. Wicks and Christopher D. Merrett included in the Rural Research Report published by the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paddling in the Moonlight

This weekend while traveling I saw Norris Outfitters sign and canoes near Minden, LA. Mr. Norris is offering moonlight paddles. Paddling in Louisiana is becoming increasingly popular and landowners whose land is adjacent to a beautiful bayou, river or lake have an asset they can turn into revenue by offering canoes for rent. With the assistance of grant funding, the LSU AgCenter has been exploring waterways in northeast Louisiana. As a result of these explorations, paddling brochures are now available for the Tensas River, The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, Bayou Macon and Bayou Bartholomew. All the brochures are available online by going to Explore Louisiana North and clicking on the parishes: Tensas, Richland and Morehouse.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival in Jennings-A Four Year Success Story

The fourth annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival based out of Jennings, in southwest Louisiana was held October 24-28, 2012. The festival is a collaboration between rice farmers and birders. Throughout the festival, participants get a glimpse of the importance of birds to the area's "working wetlands." Click here to see a video.

Friday, October 26, 2012

International Visitors Come to WesMar Farms

Europeans made visiting farms famous and now we have Europeans visiting our family farms here in America. Recently WesMar Farms, home to 100 Nubian goats and a dairy operation, in Moreauville located in Avoyelles Parish played hosts; click here for more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Benefits of Agritourism

Agritourism is a business venture on a working farm, ranch or agricultural enterprise that offers educational and fun experiences for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner. Visitors participate in friendly “discovery” and learning activities in natural or agricultural settings. Because it blends entertainment and education, agritourism is also known as “agrientertainment,” “agritainment” or “agrotourism.” Agritourism can provide many benefits to the agricultural producer: • Cash flow during the off-season • Opportunity to sell the “experience” of your agricultural venue • Opportunity to sell products grown and harvested in your agricultural operation • Opportunity to share your passion of agriculture with others

Monday, October 15, 2012


The new interactive Web guide,, can help you complete the Louisiana Plan of Operation if you are applying for certification under the Limited Liabilty Agritourism Law passed in 2008.

This guide provides virtual walk-throughs that include corn maze safety, hay-ride safety, machine safety, and walk-ways, surfaces and structures. The walk-throughs identify health and safety hazards that can be termed risks according to Louisiana law; using this tool you can show how you would mitigate that risk on your plan of operation.   

The walk-throughs and suggestions for risk mitigation  are based on “Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines for Children,” available at The guidelines originally were published in 2007 by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, part of the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wis.

For more information on agritourism in Louisiana, visit our website:


Monday, October 8, 2012

Pack & Paddle of Lafayette taught kayak classes at Poverty Point Reservoir State  Park on Saturday, September 29th; then in Monroe at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, October 5th.  We had a great turn-out. These classes were sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Poverty Point Reservoir State Park and the Friends Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in an effort to get people on the water to enjoy our abundant water resources. We had 29 who learned to kayak.

Pack & Paddle of Lafayette tuaght canoe classes on Saturday, October 6th, at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks Friends of Black Bayou Lake NWR for hosting.
Twenty learned to canoe.
Within the two-week period we have shown 49 people how to enjoy the abundant resources in Northeast Louisiana.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Halloween Fries

With fairs,  festivals  and farmers markets happening all over our state before Halloween, why not introduce the sweet potato in french fry form and call them "Halloween Fries."

Part of our mission as agritourism operators is to create a unique and educational experience for those who visit. I recently tried this with some youngsters and they could not eat enough of those delicious sweet potato fries. 

We added salt to bring out the flavor after frying but they are equally delicious with powdered sugar sprinkled over them for a sweet Halloween treat.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Interactive Web Guide on Agritourism Safety

Agritourism is growing in popularity and so is the need to protect our visitors. A new safety program is  available at Agritourism operators  can select virtual walk-throughs most appropriate for their operations. These walk-throughs identify health and safety hazards and provide resources to fix the hazards. Read more at:

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Paddling Trails Open in Tensas on Saturday, Sept. 15th

It's going to be fun tomorrow!  We will open our new paddling trails on Saturday, September 15th at the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge. Beginning at 9 a.m. anyone can join us for a paddle down the Tensas to see what makes this area so spectacular from the water. You will see alligators, enormous cypress trees and birds as you paddle.

Guiding this paddling adventure will be John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company in Clarksdale, MS.

No experience needed or equipment; all will be supplied. The trips will be 30 minutes in length.

To start your adventure travel to the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 15th.  The Tensas River NWR is located at 2312 Quebec Rd in Tallulah, LA.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival in Bird Watcher's Digest

An excerpt from the article reads: “In late October, the fourth annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival will take place in Louisiana’s southwestern prairie region. This modest event is unique insofar as it brings birders and farmers together to appreciate the value to birds of the state’s “working wetlands,”
the rice country of the area. Surely, participants will view elusive wintering yellow rails in rice fields, but more importantly, they will combine our pastime with the working lives of people engaged with what is certainly the most bird-friendly agricultural crop in North American: rice.

Visit for more about the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival.” The entire article can be found at Bird Watcher’s Digest, September-October, 2012 edition online at

The festival is scheduled for October 24-28, 2012 in Jennings.




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Boating on the Bayou

 Boatin’ on the Bayou

State Parks and Keep Morehouse Beautiful Director volunteer Vicki Carpenter and her crew are sponsoring Boatin' on the Bayou. See details below:



SEPTEMBER 29, 2012




$1.00 GATE FEE

CALL 283-0812 to reserve a canoe; hurry canoes are limited.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Teddy's Bear Festival 2012



Join us to commemorate


President Theodore Roosevelt’s successful bear hunt

expedition in Madison Parish where he actually

shot and killed his black bear.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Courthouse Square

Tallulah, LA

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Lots of activities (children’s games and prizes, rock climbing, face and finger painting, fire and safety prevention activities and inflatable rides) for children will be offered. Educational and informational exhibits featuring a wide variety of activities as well as live animals, and information on wildlife, hunting, and fishing will be on display. Booths showcasing many arts & crafts will also be available. Lots of door prizes will be given away along with surprise raffle items. There will be a variety of food booths, and live entertainment featuring a variety of music genres will be non-stop.

The festival is headlined by Easy Eddie and the Party Rockers along with Hadley J. Castille, world-renowned Cajun fiddler player, Louisiana Hall of Famer, television and movie performer from Opelousas, Vicki Baker, rhythm and blues singer from Vicksburg, MS and  Dr. Willie Naylor, Jazz trumpeter from Chicago, Illinois. Local talent from in and around the I-20 corridor will include 71254, and old school rhythm and blues group, country and western singer Jessie LaRae, bluegrass, Gospel, Country, Blues, Rock 'n Roll group, Grassfire, and a host of solo, groups and gospel artists.

Cost:     Free

Contact: Tina Johnson

Madison Parish Tourism Commission


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paddler in the News

This is a great news clip about paddler, Jon Soul, and his journey on Bayou Pierre near Shreveport. John's website: Bayou to Bay contains a link to a video clip called, "Journey Back to Nature" which was filmed by KTBS news in Shreveport.
Jon, a teacher, is hoping to show his students how what is deposited upstream flows downsteam, a conservation message we all need to be aware of.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Louisiana Women in Agriculture Conference


To reserve a spot
call or e-mail:

(318) 473-7687 or
Those who registered for the August 30, 2012 meeting do not need to register again.
Conference location: 

The Delhi Civic Center is located at
231 Denver Street, Delhi, Louisiana. 

Agencies sponsoring the Louisiana Women in Agriculture Conference include:

  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • USDA Rural Development
  • Local soil and water conservation districts

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Agritourism Health and Safety Guidelines

The National Children's Center  has excellent resources for agritourism operators. Thier brochures are designed to assist you in offering a safer, more healthy agritourism experience. Click here to learn more.

Monday, August 20, 2012

USDA Certification Needed for Operations Using Animals

Agritourism operators who use animals as part of their agritourism venture are be 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.

So, if you have a petting zoo, race pigs, have a goat walk, ride horses, etc. you need to contact USDA and see if you need to become certified.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Free classes in canoeing and kayaking will be offered in two locations during the months of September and October. Pack & Paddle from Lafayette will be providing instruction. This event is being sponsored by the LSU AgCenter's agritourism program and participating partners: Friends of the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. Registration is now open. The classes is free. Suggested ages are 18 years and older. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to class time. Participants have a choice between two class times each day. Classes are scheduled for morning (10 am to 1pm) and afternoon (2-5pm) When you call, provide your name, phone number and preferred class time. Saturday, September 29, 2012, Kayak Classes at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park, 1500 Poverty Point Parkway, Delhi, LA 71232. Call Poverty Point Manager Mike Valley to register Phone Number: 318-878-7536 or 800-474-0392. Friday, October 5, 2012, Kayak classes at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 480 Richland Place Monroe, LA, Phone Number: 318-387-1114, Contact: Ann Bloxom Smith Saturday, October 6, 2012, Canoe classes at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 480 Richland Place Monroe, LA, Phone Number: 318-387-1114, Contact: Ann Bloxom Smith

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

WEED DATING on the Family Farm

Yes, you read that right. People in Idaho are cashing in on the weeds in their garden by inviting singles to come and weed and meet another single. A recent news article in the Shreveport Times on June 28, 2012 tells all. Click here for details. The picture also appeared as part of The Times article.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Agritourism World on Facebook

What is happening across the world in agritourism? To find out like Agritourism World. Learn to grow your own agritourism operation by liking this page on Facebook. This page will link you to others who are enjoying the benefits of agritourism.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lessons & Ideas for Agritourism Operators from an England Agritour

Join us for a free webinar presented by Megan Bruch, Center for Profitable Agriculture in Tennessee. This webinar scheudled for Tuesday, August 28th will begn at at 1:30pm Central/2:30pm Eastern. E-mail to register by August 26. You will be sent a link and instructions on how to join the session. The England AgriTour took place April 13-22, 2012 and included visits to 12 farm shops/agritourism operations, three farmers markets and several tourism locations. Twenty-six agritourism/direct farm marketing professionals attended the tour making for many networking opportunities. A local guide accompanied the group on the tour discussing agriculture, fishery, historical and cultural information. She returned from the trip with hundreds of photographs, numerous examples of marketing materials and many ideas to share. Join in on this webinar to hear and see some of what I learned.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WesMar Gets Highway Sign

Congratulations to WesMar Dairy Farm. Their new road signs located on Highway 1 and on Bayou des Glaises Street in Moreauville look great as you can see. WesMar Farms met the eligibility criteria for participating in the LA DOTD "Louisiana Tourist Oriented Directional Sign Program." Marguerite Constantine, owner of WesMar, provided me with the following information: "Qualifications, manufacturing and installation of the signs are administered by the Louisiana Department of Transportation through Louisiana Interstate Logos. That website: or by telephone 1-877-309-3078. This should be your first point of contact." La Interstate Logos conducts the inspections and site visits to determine eligibility, measure distances, etc. If the site qualifies, they work with the owner/operator to design the appropriate sign. Once the sign is approved by the owner and fees paid, the paperwork is forwarded to LaDOTD for final approval. Once approved, the signs are manufactured and installed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Miss Lou Rural Tourism Summit, August 7-9 in Natchez, MS

This year's summit is in historic Natchez, MS. Click here for details. Each year the summit rotates between Louisiana and Mississippi locations. Topics for this year’s summit will include the film industry, creative entrepreneurship, culinary arts, marketing and public relations strategies and utilizing media outlets. The theme of this years summit, is "I think I can, I think I can." Speakers from Louisiana and Mississippi will discuss how small towns can develop their tourism assets. To REGISTER and look at the AGENDA click here.

Louisiana Agritourism Connection Newsletter Available

The lastest edition of the Louisiana Agritourism Connection is now available online. Click here to read.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Oklahoma Bus Tour Generates New Ideas for Farmers

Oklahoma farmers and ranchers just participated in a regional bus tour to showcase farms using agritourism to bolster their incomes. Participants were given the opportunity to board a bus and tour working farms. At each stop farmers shared their success stories using agritourism to bring income to local, rural areas. For the story click here. Photo by: CELIA AMPEL

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New foreign worker law could hurt Louisiana processors

The economic impact of the new prevailing wage rate increase for H-2B-temporary non-agricultural workers could put some Louisiana processors out of business, according to LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi. The H-2B program, which covers non-agricultural employment, is one of two programs that govern the hiring of foreign workers. The second program, H-2A covers farm workers. The program allows foreign workers into the United States when qualified United States workers are not available and when the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed United States workers. Last year, Congress passed the law to increase the prevailing wage for these non-agricultural foreign workers, Salassi said. The law, which goes into effect this October, is designed to keep foreign workers from displacing American workers by taking jobs at lower wage rates. To read more of LSU AgCenter's Johnny Morgan's story, click here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gardening Day Camps

This morning reading the paper, I found an article titled, "Farm to Fork." The article shared the story of Elizabeth Anna's Old World Garden in Fort Worth, Texas. She teaches the basics of farm life, but her goal is to help children understand the connection between gardening and the food on their plate. The article shares her successes as she relates to children from ages 6 to 12. Summer is a great time to offer camps like these, children are so detached from agriculture that a farmers everyday life is intriguing to them. So, if you have a garden this could be a great idea for some summer income.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Make Money on Your Farm or Ranch

Today, travelers pay to learn how to do things the old-fashioned way. Travelers want to experience milking the cow, making butter and preparing a down-home meal. That might be after spending a day on the farm herding cows, rounding them up for the sale or separating the cows from the calves. To learn how to start your own business on the farm or ranch, visit the website: Farm Stay U.S. This website has some great examples and also has a farm stay business guide.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Outdoor Enterprise Workshop-June 6th in Vidalia

Just one more day before the Outdoor Enterprise Workshop in Vidalia. If you have not had time to register; we have a few seats left, so come early and register the day of the workshop from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. We start promptly at 9 a.m. Registration is $20 for one person; and $30 for a couple. This workshop will help landowners write a business plan for their new enterprise, whether it be an agritourism, nature-based or hunting/leasing operation. Click here for details.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yellow Rails and Rice Festival Registration Open

The fourth annual Yellow Rails and Rice Festival is scheduled for 24-28 October 2012. Designed with fun in mind, its primary goal is to provide participants a unique venue to view Yellow Rails while at the same time bringing birders and farmers together to realize the value to birds of the area’s “working wetlands.” The festival schedule is casual and participants can attend all field days (weather permitting) or come and go at their leisure. Leaders/facilitators are positioned at field sites and help participants spot birds as well as provide information or answer questions. In addition to visiting rice fields, participants can join trips to local points of interest, morning field trips to explore areas nearby, or two trips farther afield to the pineywoods or Cameron Parish coast on Saturday. These field trips highlight some of Louisiana’s other habitats and the birds associated with them. Many of the agencies and organizations that study, manage, and protect these areas also assist at the festival, as well as have information booths during the opening reception (icons displayed below) so that participants can learn more about their activities. Two workshops are also offered this year. Based in Jennings, participants are positioned in the heart of Cajun Country in Louisiana’s southwest prairie region, an area known for great birding, local cuisine, and a rich history and culture. (Text copied from website.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Find Something to Eat and Something to do on MarketMaker

Click on MarketMaker and a whole new world opens up. MarketMaker can put you in touch with farmers, agritourism operations, retailers, wholesalers, etc. This one stop shop has all the information you need to get in touch with farmers/ranchers, places to go and places to eat and drink. Take advantage of this service for the holiday weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA's as they are commonly referred to are growing in popularity. Not everyone can provide their own home-grown produce nor can everyone live near a year-round farmers market. CSA's are a great way for farmers to share the cost of producing fruits and vegetables with consumers who agree to monetarily support their effors. There are a number of ways CSA's are run and for a more complete definition and understanding, read this article from Local Harvest.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It's blueberry season and if you don't have a blueberry bush, log onto MarketMaker to find a place to purchase these berries. 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 17, 2012

It's the Law

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. The mayhaw, a fruit that measures about 1/2" to 1" in diameter and is bright red to reddish yellow, is plentiful from mid-April through early May. While some people can remember harvesting mayhaws in sloughs or river bottoms, they are now grown in commercial or home orchards created with grafted mayhaws. Several years ago, mayhaw producers were instrumental in having mayhaw jelly declared the Louisiana state jelly. To locate a mayhaw producer in your area, contact your local LSU AgCenter office or log onto the Louisiana Mayhaw Associations’s website and click on the “where to buy" tab or log onto MarketMaker at

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Farm Toys

Kids Villiage is the first of its kind in New Orleans. The village targets children in pre-school through fifth grade. The teaching garden shows children how to plant their garden, raise farm animals and learn science skills. The farming toys in the picture are also part of the learning experience to teach how to create and maintain a garden. To learn more click here. If you have a farmers market or agritourism operation featuring gardening there are some good ideas on this website.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Join Louisiana Ag Coalition Today

The Louisiana AgCoalition is a statewide voice promoting and emphasizing the importance of agricultural research and extension services in Louisiana, representing 4-H, agriculture industries, producers and consumers. The organization is dedicated to ensuring the continued growth and sustainability of agriculture industries within the state for future generations. Click here to become a member.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pick-Your-Own Operations

Pick-Your-Own operations are an excellent way to sell your produce directly off your farm. Entrepreuners who choose this method of sales should be aware that pick-your-own farms generally have the most business on weekends, require a friendly farm staff to meet and greet customers, requires less labor costs and necessitates the need for more liability insurance. This is a great option for the person who can meet all the needs above. Generally the season for pick-your-own crops are short. Pick-your-own opertaions require lots of marketing to bring customers to your farm. There are numerous marketing methods that have proven successful. Try any or all of these: -MarketMaker website -Pick-Your-Own website -Local Harvest website -Social media outlets: Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fair Oaks Farm in Indiana

Fair Oaks Farm is a Disney experience in Indiana. Located just one hour south of Chicago this dairy farm has an adventure center that provides interactive displays to learn where milk comes from and its importance. The farm is one of the largest working dairies in the U.S. They milk 32,000 cows a day and 80 calves are born daily at the farm. A special room walled with plexi glass allows visitors to the farm to see calves being born every day. This U-Tube clip provides you with the experience. This is a great illustration of what agritourism operators can do on the farm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dutch Oven Cooking

Allow your agritourism visitors to cook their own food from the garden. Use a dutch oven and show them how to harvest, prepare and cook what they find in the garden. Detailed instructions for dutch oven cooking can be found at or by clicking here. For suggestions on "what's for dinner" go to MarketMaker for a listing of vegetables in season.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Urban Farming for Kids in New Orleans

Kids' Village opening on April 26th in New Orleans will be one of the only community gardens in the city designed primarily for kids in pre-school to 5th grade. Organizers are planning many activities that include training sessions on how to plant properly and raising farm animals, learning about science including earthworm games, and more. Email: Phone: 504.206.9290

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Include Earth Day Activities in Farm Tours

Earth Day will be celebrated April 22nd this year. Take advantage of this special day by teaching environmental responsibility to farm visitors. Provide each of your farm guests with a peat pot, soil and some seed. Share with them the joy of planting. Encourage them to start a compost pile at home. Teach water conservation. No matter where you live today; water is a concern. Teaching that farms access surface water when possible for their animals and crops shows that farmers are practicing good stewardship. It's Earth Day, celebrate!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Starting a Farmers Market--What You Need to Know

Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has a great guide entitled, Establishing and Operating a Farmers Market, to help you start your market and sustain the market. This complete guide provides you with a month by month timetable.

If you are just starting your market this is an excellent reference and if you have an existing market you might want to read this publication and see if you can enhance your operation using their tips.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Agritourism Connection Quarterly Newsletter Now Available Online

The latest Louisiana Agritourism Connection newsletter for April, 2012 is now available at the link below:

Click here to read a copy of the April, 2012 edition of “The Agritourism Connection,” a quarterly e-newsletter providing information how to start, grow or sustain your agritourism venture. Topics covered in this newsletter include: outdoor enterprise development business plan workshop announcement, how to use paddling trails for added farm income, organic gardening, choosing where to sell produce, MarketMaker, instructions on how to qualify for farmers market program in Louisiana and the 2011 Agricultural Summary. For more information on agritourism, visit our website:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Say, "I Do" on The Farm

High Point Farms is located near Chattanooga, Tennessee in the northwest corner of Georgia. This perfect setting has great appeal to young couples who want to marry in the great outdoors or on the family farm.

Photographers like photographing outside. Just imagine the bride in a pumpkin patch, in front of a red barn, or on the back of a wagon with a "just married" sign.

Saying "I do" on the farm is just one more way to supplement your farm income.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Want to Start a Farm Stay?

Minnesota has a new Farm Stay Manual available online. If you are interested in hosting guests overnight on your farm or ranch, this is a must read. Although the guide was written for Minnesota, it contains a sample business plan that could be adapted for Louisiana.

If you decide to start a farm stay, plan to attend our up-coming workshop on "Outdoor Enterprise Business Plan Development," scheduled for Wednesday, June 6 in Vidalia. Click here for details.

Once you have your farm stay in operation, be sure to join the Farm Stay U.S. network.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Farmers Market Nutrition Program

According to Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, “The Farmers Market Nutrition Program helps our older residents purchase locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and roadside stands. Not only does the program give them the ability to buy good, healthy, fresh food, it also supports our local farmers."

Coupons are available to eligible seniors and those who qualify receive a book of six $4-coupons ($24). To learn how to qualify, contact your local Council on Aging.

Farmers who wish to participate in this program must sign a “Farmer Participation Agreement.” Call the Louisiana Department of Ag and Forestry at 985-345-9483 to learn more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's in Season?

There are two easy ways to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season.
Click on the "now in season" tab on MarketMaker for a listing or click here to be re-directed to a guide on the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry website.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Does Your Farmers Market Have a Mission?

This is the time of year when communities begin considering whether or not to start their first farmers market. Before starting a farmers market ask yourself, "Why do we need one?" When you know what you are trying to achieve you can do a better job of making a plan to succeed.

Farmers Markets serve many purposes in community. I found this mission statement online from the Grafton Farmers Market.

Our Mission Statement:
•To provide fresh, local food directly from farmers to consumers.
•To help the local farming industry to remain healthy.
•To educate the community about healthy and sustainable living.
•To provide a social experience that builds community.

This is a great mission that encompasses the entire community.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association, Join Today!

The Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association serves parishes and counties along the Mississippi River and strives to provide those parishes and counties with educational programs targeted to agencies and organizations focusing on tourism-related issues and owners of tourism-related operations in the Miss-Lou region. The parishes and counties are:

• Louisiana – Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Madison,
Point Coupee, Richland, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Tensas, Washington, WestCarroll and West Feliciana
• Mississippi – Adams, Amite, Claiborne, Copiah, Franklin, Hancock, Issaquena, Jefferson,
Lamar, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Pike, Sharkey, Walthall, Warren and Wilkinson

A membership form can be found on their website.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ranch Sorting Competition


Sixth Annual Southwest Louisiana Horse Expo

In keeping with Louisiana Equine Council's goal to help educate and promote the equine industry, other professionals will be demonstrating techniques and skills useful to equestrians of all skill levels and disciplines. Some of the presenters include Susan Morris, two-time World Champion Extreme Cowboy competitor of Zachary, LA, who will be demonstrating the skills she used in winning the 2009 Extreme Cowboy Race.

Fran Hancock, a nationally recognized clinician with Reis Ranch Natural Horsemanship, will demonstrate how dressage is invaluable to all disciplines, but specifically to western riding. Judy Weisgerber with the La. Stock Horse Association will demonstrate an event called Ranch Pleasure. And Michael Radich, jumping instructor at the Stables of Le Bocage in Lake Charles, will show how you can safely teach your horse to jump—regardless of the discipline you ride.

There will be vendors as well. Equestrian clubs and organizations are encouraged to contact LEC, as booth space is free for them. SOAR Therapeutic Riding will host a Kids Korral. Children are invited to come and learn about horses and make “horsey” crafts for a small fee to benefit SOAR. On Sunday, Cowboy Church will start promptly at 8:30 a.m. Activities will conclude with the Colt Starting Finals in the afternoon.

Admission is $5.00 for adults. Children 10 or under get in free. You may join LEC at the Expo for free admission, or you may go to and “Join” by completing an application. The following hotels in Lake Charles have rooms blocked for the expo: Inn on the Bayou (337 474-5151) and the La Quinta (337 478-9889). Or you may wish to bring your camper and trailer and stay at the coliseum. Stalls are also available. Camper hookups are $25.00 and stalls are $15.00 per night. Shavings are not provided, but will be available for purchase.

WHEN: March 17th & 18th
WHERE: Burton Coliseum Outdoor Arena, Lake Charles, Louisiana
CONTACTS: An agenda is posted at, or call 337 794-9489 or 337 296-6819
Information provided by: Neely Heidorn PhD, Equine Specialist, LSU AgCenter, 225-578-5338 or
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Geocaching Workshop Scheduled April 30th in Natchez, MS

 Geocaching is a new hobby that tourism officials are using to motivate tourists to travel to specific areas of interest.

The Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association will host a workshop in Natchez, MS on April 30th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Natchez Grand Hotel.

Registration is free for members of the Miss-Lou Rural Tourism Association and only costs $35 for non-members.

Seating is limited, so call Rachel Carter, Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development, Mississippi State University at 662-325-1619 or e-mail her at
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Forest Lands Offer Great Opportunities for Scavenger Hunts

Forest lands are a perfect place to host a scavenger hunt. Include this as part of the agritourism experience at your farm. To begin:
-Create a list of items participants can scavenge for.
-Group participants in groups and assign an adult to each group.
-Give each participant a copy of the list.
-Suggestions for list: feathers, leaves of various colors, seeds or cones, flowers. If children have access to a camera include animal burrows or dens, live animals spotted, birds, animal scat (poop).
-Give a time limit for the hunt. (15-30 minutes)
-Have everyone meet back at a pre-determined site.
-Give every participant an opportunity to share what they found.
-Allow participants to tell their stories about how they retreived or found items.

This is a great way to get children involved in nature and seeing the wonderful resources that are part of agricultural lands.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Auburn University Creates a Nature Park

Auburn University wants to help children get back to nature. No more visible slides or money bars, they are hidden in nature. They are disguised as an eagle's nest, tree house, beaver lodge, mole tunnel, sandpit, teepee, boulders, and logs.

Jennifer Lolley, administrator of the Forest Ecology Preserve where the playground is located, says, "She hopes that it will become a 'conduit' for families to explore the great outdoors. The playground represents an effort to combat "Nature Deficit Disorder" in an era where children ages 8 to 12 spend nearly 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen."

This is a great idea for our agritourism operations on our farms. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Need Help with Managing Plant Disease, Weeds and Pests?

The LSU AgCenter is offering three updated guides online or printed about managing pests, plant diseases and weeds.

The guides – the 2012 Louisiana Insect Pest Management Guide, 2012 Louisiana Plant Disease Management Guide and 2012 Louisiana Suggested Weed Management Guide – can be purchased for $12 per printed copy or downloaded free of charge.

The guides provide the latest information on pesticides, herbicides and other products available to help in controlling issues in areas ranging from home lawns to farm fields and forests. Each guide provides general instructions about uses of the products, the current product labels, application rates and use restrictions.

Each printed copy of a guide is $12 plus 9 percent tax and shipping charges. The guides can be ordered from the online store on LSU AgCenter website at Phone orders also can be called to 225-578-2263.

The guides also may be downloaded at no cost from the LSU AgCenter website by visiting

The recommendations presented in the guides are based on research conducted by LSU AgCenter personnel in its Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station and Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flowers and Agritourism

People love flowers! Springtime flowers are especially appealing after the winter months. Planting a mass of flowers at your agritourism venture will bring people to your venture. For summer, consider flowers to offer in a u-pickem operation. Also consider having photographers use your property for a fee.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Gifts from the Farm

We are just one day away from Valentine’s Day and for last minute shoppers here are a few tips. Give your loved one a gift from the farm. Below are some suggestions:

• Gift card to a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm
• Coupon for a live Christmas tree
• Cheese or milk from a local dairy
• Gift card to a local agritourism operation
• Coupon for their favorite fruit from their favorite orchard
• A plant for spring planting
• A bottle of wine

Places to purchase the above ideas can be found on MarketMaker.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Expanding Your Markets! Going Online

Don't miss this webinar, "Expanding Your Markets! Going Online." It's scheduled for February 9, 2012, 2 p.m. (Eastern), 1 p.m. (Central), 12 noon (Mountain) and 11 a.m. (Pacific)

To connect go to:

Small business owners especially agritourism operators frequently ask, "Do I need a website?" The answer is YES! This webinar will discuss the why and the how of building an online presence.

This webinar will focus on the “Direct Marketing of Specialty Food Products Online” curriculum - The curriculum contains video clips from business owners tell their story of going online. This online curriculum is available for business owners as well as for use by educators as part of educational programs. The basic questions that must be asked will be presented along with resources to help answer the questions. 

It's FREE.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Forestry Lands Offer Tourism Opportunities

Our vast forestry lands in the state of Louisiana offer an opportunity for diversified incomes. A landowner can plant trees, harvest and lease for hunting purposes. These are great traditional uses for the land, but today our forests offer another opportunity: agritourism. In this article we will explore how you can make money while your trees grow.

Tourists seeking agricultural venues are increasing in the United States. People are seeking these opportunities because they “want a respite from life,” “want to get back in touch with nature,” and want to show their children and grandchildren the beauty of the earth.”

Travelers enjoy staying in remote locations, so a cabin in the woods with access to a fishing pond would be perfect. Add some horses for riding trail adventures and it’s a perfect get-away. For those who want to stay longer than a weekend, scout out areas on your property where visitors can view wildlife and birds. Some of your guests may want to camp in the woods and have a fire for cooking, while others may be happier with a nice cabin. Be prepared to accommodate everyone’s wish list for a perfect time in the woods.

Hiking on agricultural lands, especially in a wooded area could also be a real treat for the person whose daily life is surrounded by a concrete jungle. Riding all-terrain vehicles may be another addition welcomed by the traveler who is not comfortable on horseback.

For the adventurer, try geocaching. Hide caches (container with something in it) throughout your forested area and provide global positioning system (GPS) coordinates for their location. The game is to see who can arrive at the location and find the cache.