Monday, September 22, 2014

Eckert's Tips on Making Good Events Great

Jane Eckert, a national speaker, author and agritourism expert, is principal of Eckert AgriMarketing (, a firm that helps farmers sell products directly to consumers and develop their operations into tourist destinations authored an article entitled, "Making the Good Event--Great". The article has lots of tips that are useful to all agritourism business owners. Read the entire article by clicking here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teddy's Bearfest in Tallulah

Beekeepers and Farmers

Pollination services provided by honeybees are important for producers of vegetables, fruit, nuts, flowers, grasses and other plants that feed wildlife, livestock and people.
According to the 2013 Louisiana Summary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in 2013 an estimated 325 beekeepers produced 1.8 million pounds of honey. That’s up from 322 beekeepers who produced 1.5 million pounds in 2012. The number of hives during that period also increased from 21,443 to 22,628. 

The total value of honey production for 2013 was $4.3 million, up from $3.7 million in 2012.    

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stone Barns Using Apps to Navigate Visitors

Reprinted from Stone Barns website:
“In the spirit of blending agricultural tradition and modern innovation, explore the farm with the interactive, family-friendly Stone Barns Center app.

Take a self-guided tour, independently explore, play a farm-trivia game, share recipes with friends and more! The Stone Barns app is filled with dynamic updates--text, photos and audio--straight from farmers and staff. Use the map to see where the animals are located and learn about each of our breeds. Get up-to-date information about what's growing and going on at the Center.

Click here to downlaod the app form the iTunes store.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September Edition of Louisiana Agritourism Connection Now Available online

The Louisiana Agritourism Connection September 2014  a quarterly e-newsletter providing information on how to start, grow or sustain your agritourism venture is now available on the LSU AgCenter's Agritourism website. This edition includes information on  the agritourism limited liability law, workshops around the state and information on the newly revised cottage industry law.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why do people travel to rural areas?

Why are people traveling to rural places?

70% enjoy dining
58% enjoy shopping 
44% enjoy water activities
41% enjoy visiting historical sites
32% enjoy fishing/hunting/boating
29% enjoy attended fairs and festivals
24% enjoy bike riding and hiking
23% enjoy religious service
21% enjoy camping
18% enjoy sporting events
15% enjoy visiting a winery, farm or orchard

Source:  2001 Rural Tourism Travel Poll conducted by TIAA.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Changes to Louisiana's Cottage Food Law Can Increase Opportunities for Agritourism Operators

Louisiana’s cottage food law Act 542 was amended by House Bill 1270 in the regular session of the Louisiana Legislature in 2014. It allows “low-risk foods” to be sold. Those foods include all of the following, none of which
shall consist of any animal muscle protein or fish protein: baked goods (breads, cakes, cookies, and pies); candies, dried mixes; honey and honeycomb products; jams, jellies and preserves; pickles and acidified foods; sauces and syrups; and spices.

A label must be affixed to the food products that clearly states that the food was not produced in a licensed or regulated facility.  No person can sell food unless they have applied for or have been issued all of the following: (a) a Louisiana General Sales Tax Certificate from the Louisiana Department of Revenue and (b) a local sales tax certificate from the local taxing authority of any jurisdiction in which the seller intends to sell foods. The sales limit has increased to $20,000.

These are just a few of the rules; read the entire law to learn more. To read the new law, click here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Get Inspiration from Other Agritourism Operations

A Glimpse of Rock Ranch in Georgia

Sadly, S. Truett Cathy died on Monday, September 8, 2014 at age 93.

The Rock Ranch in Georgia is a great example of agritourism.  The 1,500 acre ranch owned by the founder Chick-fil-A®, S. Truett Cathy was started as a Brangus cattle operation and in 1994; Mr. Cathy began offering tours to school groups and church groups; and hosting corporate and private events on the ranch. 

All the activities on the ranch must meet Mr. Cathy’s personal goals for the ranch by “Uniting families with the land and each other” and “Growing Healthy Families.” Mr. Cathy and his manager, Jeff Manley, use the rural setting of the ranch and its natural resources to help children understand values.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to the ranch with other agritourism professionals and meet Mr. Cathy and Mr. Manley. The ranch is ideally located one hour from Atlanta and Columbus, and 40 minutes from Macon.  They have an excellent website that gives an overview of the ranch and provides information on group tours and other activities at the ranch. Please visit for more details.

So, why are they such a great example? They have taken their assets and built on them. When we toured we asked how much of their cash flow for new activities came from the founder of Chick-fil-A®. Manley explained that his job was to make the agritourism operation self-sustaining and that he had the same struggles of other agritourism operations in the region.  Each year they add or change something to keep their operation fresh and new for visitors.

The lay out of the ranch allows for several field trips to take place simultaneously offering different themes and providing the opportunity to host different age groups. While every agritourism operation will not have that opportunity, the way they structure their field trips can be duplicated.  They focus on the fall and spring primarily when they have the most happening on the ranch for field trips. In the summer they offer more play time in a ranch setting. There are also numerous opportunities to visit the ranch during other times, but those must be planned for in advance.

How often and when can you host groups of people on your farm or ranch will depend on your access to a labor supply. Guests want to talk with someone who herds cows, rides the tractor or picks the garden. That person is usually someone who works on the farm. They don’t have to have on pressed clothes; they need to look like they just stepped out of the cow pen.  Your tour guides are part of the experience.

At The Rock Ranch, tours are planned around some of the horticulture crops allowing guests to help harvest.  They offer six weeks of tours in the fall and spring and divide each week day into themes. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the field trips include whatever flowers, vegetables and new born animals are on the farm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, guests learn more about the ecology of the farm. Wildlife, worms, composting, trees and seed planting are just some of the subjects covered on those days.

In addition to group and school tours, they have dwellings located on the property they rent for overnight stays. Who would not want to wake up in such a beautiful place? They also have a rare collection of Conestoga wagons they use for overnight stays.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interview with Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm and Inn in Vermont

Liberty Hill Farm and Inn in Vermont has been in the agritourism business for over 30 years according to Beth Kennett who owns the farm along with husband Bob. They are the fifth family to own the farm since 1780. Talk about history!

Recently, I listened to Mary Peabody of the University of Vermont Extension  interview  Beth about her three decades of agritourism experiences.

They opened their doors in 1984 for a bed and breakfast experience which later transitioned into agritourism with overnight stays and opportunities to be on the farm and learn about agriculture. They have entertained guests from around the globe since day one.

According to Beth, people are interested in making a connection with where food comes from. Guests to the farm don't understand basic agriculture and as farmers we have an opportunity to provide them with an education.

She believes that 90-95% of her guests come to Liberty Hill because it is a working farm. Her marketing efforts include a great website and use of social media. Although Beth has attended many great extension educational programs on website design and social media, Beth believes that you should hire professionals to create a website and depend on yourself, family members or guests for social media. Beth, suggested people attend the extension workshops so that they can intelligently communicate with the professionals they hire for those services.

One other thought Beth shared, was that within a state or community that businesses need to work cooperatively. Simply explained, if you are out of rooms for lodging send the guest to someone nearby, send them to eat at a local restaurant, suggest they do activities in the area. Don't let them get out of town, keep the money here, work cooperatively with those surrounding you. She further added that her business began by locals suggesting people stop by her farm; since we did not have internet in the 1980's.

Beth estimates that 80% of her new guests find her online. She was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and that article too is now online. So even printed articles, soon can be found online.

For the complete interview click on interview above.

Horticulture Events Planned

The LSU AgCenter and affiliated groups offer numerous educational opportunities for nursery and landscape professionals. Some educational programs having multi-state impact and attendance are also listed. Be sure to check with the contact person listed for more specific information on each event and confirm date, location, time prior to attending.

October 9, 2014

LSU AgCenter Landscape Horticulture Field Day
Hammond Research Station
Hammond, La.
Contact Allen Owings at

October 16, 2014

New Orleans Horticulture Society Meeting
Garden Study Room at City Park Botanical Garden
New Orleans, La.
Contact Kevin Taylor at