Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'm going to take a break from blogging and enjoy the season. Hope you do too. Don't forget there are so many wonderful things you can do at Christmas time that involve family and agritourism.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

On-farm food safety research helps Louisiana growers comply with new law

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is one of the sweeping reforms of U.S. food safety laws in
more than 70 years. The main focus of the act is to reduce foodborne hazards by preventing microbial contamination during production, processing, handling and transportation of food rather than relying on correction after problems occur. Under FSMA, “FDA will have a legislative mandate to require comprehensive, science-based preventive controls across the food supply.”

To read more, click here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Register for NAFDMA

SAVE NOW as Early Registration ends December 15th
for NAFDMA's 31st Annual Convention 
to be held in 
British Columbia, Canada from Jan. 31st - Feb. 6th.

To Register, Please click here or go to
The Educational Program will highlight many aspects of the Industry featured in a variety of 
 General Sessions, Concurrent Sessions, and On & Off-Site Workshops.
The Educational Program is being updated regularly, so please keep your eye on the
for session & workshop descriptions and speaker biographies.

Every NAFDMA Convention provides endless opportunities to learn and have fun with your peer members.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas in the Crevasse Opens in LaPlace

Christmas in the Crevasse is now open featuring hayrides on 5 acres of farm land with over 70 lighted Christmas frames on display in LaPlace. The event takes place at the corner of Louisiana and Shadowbrook, three blocks off McReine Road (street across from River Forest Subdivision). Christmas in the Crevasse is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6-10 p.m., until January 1. Closed in the event of rain. Admission is $2 for children under 3; ages 3 to 93 is $5. The hayrides last approximately half an hour and depart every 15 minutes. Get a “Taste of St. John” with hot chocolate, coffee or apple juice and snacks for a small fee. Proceeds benefit Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center. Bathroom facilities are available. No reservations needed. Tour groups and corporate events may make reservations during the week. There is a coloring contest for three age groups up to 12 years of age. Entries can be picked up at Christmas in the Crevasse, Jacob's Andouille and A Storage Inn on Highway 51 or may be downloaded from Christmas in the Crevasse Facebook Page. Entries can be returned to Christmas in the Crevasse or mailed to P.O. Box 5095 in LaPlace, LA 70069. Entries are due on Saturday, December 19 and will be awarded on December 22. For more information, call 985 346-3709, or find us on Facebook.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Website

LSU AgCenter horticulture pathologist Melanie Lewis Ivey and AgCenter vegetable specialist Kiki Fontenot recently launched the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association website ( to provide information on research projects, diseases, production and upcoming events.
The website was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Crop Protection and Pest Management Grants Project with support from the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
To learn more, click here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ecotourism Workshop in Jonesville

The LSU AgCenter, National Audubon Society and Louisiana Delta Adventures will host an ecotourism workshop on Dec. 16 at the Honey Brake Lodge in Jonesville.

The daylong workshop will feature an overview of wildlife viewing opportunities in northeast Louisiana and strategies for managing land for wildlife. Attendees will also learn about promoting themselves as an ecotourism operator, legal issues and incentive programs.

A tour of the Honey Brake property, a premier ecotourism destination in the region, will take place in the afternoon.

RSVP by Dec. 11 to Erik Johnson at

Monday, November 30, 2015

Southern Christmas Tree Association Provides Support for Growers

The Southern Christmas Tree Association is an organization of Christmas tree growers in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. They are open to all state growers.

Their mission is to assist growers in the production and marketing of high quality, REAL Christmas trees for consumers.

If you are a grower, check out their website. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Welcome a new Agritourism Business in Louisiana

Bonnie Blue Farms and Nursery in Bush, LA just became a certified agritourism operation, congratulations! 

Bonnie Blue Farms and Nursery is working to transform how the West Florida Parishes, Southeast Louians and the Gulf Coast grows their food and resources. Bonnie Blue grows hardy productive trees for southern and warmer climates, produces food in the form of fruits, nuts and naturally raised animals and conducts research on edible tree cros fit for the generations ahead. 

The weekend of December 5-6, 2015 Local Cooling and Bonnie Blue Farms will be hosting Daniel Salatin of Polyface Farms to share the techniques of Polyface's profitable farming systmes with Southeast Louisiana as part of a weekend workshop event on profitable farming.The weekend will be full of how to build healthy farms of the future that have both pastures and profits. 

Click here for more information.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Take Advantage of Forestlands in your Agritourism Venue

If you have forestlands on your property, consider developing them as part of your agritourism plan of operation. Forests are great places to learn about orienterring, wildlife, hunting, fishing and nature.

There are many online nature scavenger hunts that you can download and share with those who visit your venture. You can also take advantage of the U.S. Forest Services' campaign to get people to experience the outdoors.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Make Agritourism Operation Entry Welcoming

Agritourism entrys should be warm and welcoming. Select plants that require little or no care and update the beds with annuals.Dr. Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter Horticulturist, says that, "This is the time to plant cool-season bedding plants in your flower beds. These plants will thrive in the cool to cold weather of fall to spring and keep your flower beds looking attractive." to learn more click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tips for Harvesting Winter Vegetables

By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist

The vegetables we grow in Louisiana during the cool season are some of the most delicious and nutritious that our home gardens can produce. Many of the vegetables we planted in late summer and early fall are now ready to harvest – or will be soon. It is important to harvest vegetables at the proper stage for best results, so here are a few guidelines for some common cool-season crops. To read more, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What is Agritourism? - Topic for 2015 Louisiana Women in Agriculture Conference

Tomorrow, I have been invited to share, "What is Agritourism?" at the 2015 Louisiana Women in Agriculture Conference in Bunkie, LA. I'm looking forward to the meeting.

In Louisiana, our limited liability agritourism law defines agritourism as:
"Agritourism" means the travel or visit by the general public to, or the practice of inviting the general public to travel to or visit, a working farm, ranch, or other commercial agricultural, aquacultural, horticultural, or forestry operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or participation in the activities of the farm, ranch, or other agricultural, aquacultural, horticultural, or forestry operation.

"Agritourism activities" means those activities related to agritourism as defined in rules and regulations adopted by the commissioner of agriculture and forestry in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, and which the conduct of any such activity is set forth in a plan of operation approved by the director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center or his designee.

To learn more about the law click here.

Friday, November 6, 2015

MarketMaker Perfect Choice for Agritourism Operators

MarketMaker is a national network of states that connects farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery
stores, processors, caterers, chefs and consumers. It is an ever-growing partnership of land-grant universities, departments of agriculture and food and agricultural organizations investing in a coordinated effort to build a virtual infrastructure that brings healthful, fresher and more flavorful food to the average consumer.

MarketMaker was created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004 and is licensed
to Riverside Research, an independent not-for-profit organization. Whether you are a producer looking to reach new markets; a buyer wanting to connect with local or specialty suppliers, a consumer looking for goods and services in your area or someone wanting to find an agritourism operation; listed simply at "tourism" at this site, MarketMaker is a must have resource.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Growing Cut Flowers

The LSU AgCenter has great resources for Louisiananas who want to grow cut flowers. I recommend you check out the two resources below:

Cut Flower Production Basics
Specialty cut flowers

Cut flowers can be a profitable crop in the Southern U.S. This manual provides basic information on the production of specialty cut flowers.

Field-grown Cut Flowers for Louisiana
Variety of cut flowers

Species and variety recommendation for field grown specialty cut flowers in the South.

hort hints headerHorticulture Hints
is a quarterly newsletter from the Horticulture Division of the LSU AgCenter's School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences.  You can access current and archived hints by clicking here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

National Agricultural Law Center

The National Agricultural Law Center is the only agricultural law research and information facility that is independent, national in scope, and directly connected to the national agricultural information network.
It's website has lots of useful  information on agritourism. I have had the opportunity to work with many of their attorneys and their educational information is excellent.
They write articles for the entire nation.  When reviewing their legal presentations, terms may not apply in Louisiana since our laws are different from the other 49 states. 
As a safeguard, double check with your own attorney if your property is in Louisiana before assuming you can pursue all ideas.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips for Selling to Grocery Stores

Many grocery stores are interested in buying products from local farmers or cooperatives who deal directly with local farmers. Visit grocers in your area and learn the potential for sales.

This tip sheet from ATTRA provides some helpful tips. Maybe oneday you could have your farm sign posted in a grocery store like the sign above.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Agritourism and “Pick-Your-Own"

The NCAT Marketing Tip Sheet Series  provides insight into how agritourism operators can combine agricultural sales with on-farm activities that involve the customers. These can include hayrides, mazes, pumpkin patches, farm tours, a bed and breakfast, or other endeavors.

“Pick-your-own” or “you-pick” operations allow customers to wander out into the fields or orchards to pick their own apples, berries, pumpkins, or other crops. Customers check in at the farmstand when finished and pay by weight or volume. This can be a fun activity, especially for kids, and can sometimes allow customers to get larger volumes at lower prices.

To read the entrie tip sheet click here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Adding a Market Garden to Your Agritourism Operation

It only takes a few acres to have a market garden. Market gardens can expand a current agritourism operation by extending the months that visitors travel to your farm. ATTRA* has an excellent publication entitled, "Market Gardening:A Start Up Guide" that is available online by clicking here.

*ATTRA is a program developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).Funding  for ATTRA is through a cooperative agreement with USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service. They information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, Extension agents, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture in the United States.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Risk Management and Your Agritourism Business Webinar

Agritourism and farm-based educational enterprises have become an important part of the U.S. economy. People are interested in how their food is produced and want to make connections with their local farmers. As important as it is to foster relationships with customers, it's also important to know the risks of opening your operation to the public, and learn how to protect your farm from potential accidents and hazards. You also want to keep your customers safe.

My colleagues in Ohio prepared this webinar for eXtension, learn more by clicking here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Agritourism is for Families

I'm hearing great reports about agritourism events across our state. Families are enjoying taking their children to safe, learning environments where family can experience things together.

Last night a mother told me that fall was her  favorite  time of year, because she looked forward to taking her children to events on area farms.

The LSU AgCenter's Burden Station in Baton Rouge, is also getting in on agritourism. Click here to learn about what's happening.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Caroline Dorman Nature Preserve Sale

The Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve

Announces a

Mostly Native Plant Sale

Saturday, November 7, 2015

8 AM until 12 Noon

At Briarwood 2 miles south of Saline, LA on Highway 9

Over 1000 hard-to-find plants priced between
$5 and $20 including:

6 species of native azaleas: canescens, austrinum, flammeum,
viscosum, prunifolium, and arborescens

Ferns Heirloom Bulbs
Perennials Shrubs
Trees Daylilies
Louisiana Iris Much, much more
For more information:


Friday, October 2, 2015

Benefits of Promoting Food Locally

At a recent workshop, MarketReady,  in Lafayette on September 30, 2015,  LSU AgCenter expert John Westra  told small producers that surveys have shown that the demand for local food is increasing.

“There are a lot of people who value knowing who produced their food,” Westra said. “It’s an opportunity for you to take advantage of.”

Establishing a relationship with buyers for restaurants and groceries is critical. “You need to build a line of communication,” he said. “Most of them want to know if there’s something available locally.”

For more tips, click here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Integrating Safety into Agritourism

The National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety at Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin authors materials to help farmers prevent accidents on the farm.  

Integrating Safety into Agritourism is just one of their many online resources. This resource has excellent tools you can use to make your agritourism operations safe.Click here to learn more.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses brings the business planning process alive to help today's alternative and sustainable agriculture entrepreneurs transform farm-grown inspiration into profitable enterprises.

Sample worksheets lend a practical perspective and illustrate how real farm families set goals, researched processing alternatives, determined potential markets, and evaluated financing options. Blank worksheets help the reader develop a detailed, lender-ready business plan or map out strategies to take advantage of new opportunities.

Publication alsow available in spanish.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Agritourism Professionals Must Be Experts in Hospitality

As an agritourism professional, each time to open your gates to guests it should be like opening your front door to guests in your home. Guests want to feel special. So, take the time to give them attention and they will return.  

Hospitality Tips:

1-Your guests first impression is important.  Make sure that your agricultural operation is as clean and organized as a working agricultural operation can be. If the tractor broke down, put it in the barn, seeing a tractor in need of repair with parts strewn everywhere might make the guest question safety.

2-Be at the entrance waiting for your guests arrival. Greet them with a hello and a handshake and thank them for coming.

3- Give them directions to the  restrooms and ask them to meet up at a given location at a specific time. Example: At 10 o'clock we will meet in front of the red barn.  If the group is children, relay this message to all the adults and ask for their help.

4-Train your staff to be kind to guests by listening to their needs and solving their problems.  For example, if someone has a physical disability allow them to ride in an all terrain vehicle or allow them to drive their own vehicle.

5-Apologize to guests when things don't go as planned.

5-Provide clear instruction and post signs where needed to help guests stay on the right path.

6-When they prepare to leave, thank them again for coming.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fall Gardening Workshop in Hammond. September 30th

The LSU AgCenter and the Tangipahoa Parish Master Gardeners Association have scheduled a fall garden workshop series on Sept. 30, Oct. 28 and Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon at the AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station.

Each workshop will cover topics from fall vegetable gardening tips, container gardening ideas, Louisiana Super Plants for fall, winter planting for pollinators and bees, monarchs and milkweeds and ending with native trees for Louisiana, according to LSU AgCenter agent Whitney Wallace. For more information click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Local Food Matters Seminar Today at 10 Central

No advance registration is required.  Simply click on the link on the
day to join.  Enter as Guest with just your name.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sell Fall Produce for Added Income

Fall is almost here! Time to set up a roadside stand or attend a farmers market to sell cornstalks,  pumpkins, hay and Indian corn for Halloween decorations.

People like pumpkins in all sizes and shapes. The small ones are very popular with children and the larger ones can be used in a clustered arrangement near the front door. And, of course the all-time favorite use of the larger pumpkins is to make a jack-o-lantern.

If you want to go to a farm this fall; it's time to book your trip. Field trips to area agritourism venues book fast. Most venues offer free pumpkins with the price of admission.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Agritourism Safety Fact Sheet

It is the responsibility of the agritourism professional to keep his agritourism operation safe. Recent headlinesAgritourism Growth Sparks Concerns over Safety, Liability,” appearing around the country on August 16, 2015 has put agritourism in the spotlight. The article lists recent accidents where the agritourism professional was found at fault for not protecting visitors.

After learning of the accidents, Marsha Salzwedel, an agritourism safety specialist with the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety in Marshfield, Wisconsin said  “The majority of these incidents if not all of them are pretty much preventable."

To assist agritourism operators, the LSU AgCenter has compiled a fact sheet sharing safety practices. Click here to download.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Women Who Grow Food - Women Who Buy Food

Dean Ihla, tourism development manager in North Dakota and a fellow member of NAPA, shared this post of a new move in his state to link women producers with  women consumers.

 “CommonGround North Dakota” is a 
 grassroots group that wants to start a conversation between women who grow food, and the women who buy it. 

 Here’s a video of their “banquet in the field” event held last year:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Burden Center in Baton Rouge Offering Agritourism Events for the Fall

TheBurden Museum & Gardens, located at 4560 Essen Lane, just off Interstate 10 in Baton Rouge.
 includes the LSU Rural Life Museum, the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens and Windrush Gardens.

They have lots planned for the fall. See below.

Harvest Days at the Rural Life Museum on Sept. 26-27 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Living history demonstrations will interpret activities that took place on Louisiana farms and plantations during harvest time in the 1800s. Activities will include cooking, soap making, boat building, hands-on activities for the kids and wagon rides. Regular admission.

Corn Maze Festival at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. features a farm animal petting zoo, pumpkin painting, hay mountain climb, corn maze, hayride, giant slingshot and plenty of concessions to enjoy. Visitors may purchase corn dogs, popcorn and drinks from Burden Horticulture Society volunteers. Admission $10 per person, including concession tickets; children 3 and under free. Pumpkins for painting will be on sale for $5.

Corn Maze Saturdays at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Oct 10, 17 and 24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. feature hay mountain climb, corn maze, hayride, giant slingshot and plenty of concessions to enjoy. Visitors may purchase corn dogs, popcorn and drinks from Burden Horticulture Society volunteers. Admission $7 per person, including concession tickets; children 3 and under free.

Wine and Roses in the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Oct. 14. Enjoy an elegant evening of dining under the stars and among 2,000 roses with hors d’oeuvres by Chef Eric Arceneaux of The City Club and dinner by Chef Don Bergeron. Cocktails 6-7 p.m. with music in The Pavilion; dinner 7-9 p.m. in the Rose Garden. Admission $125 per person.  Click here for more.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Starting an Agritourism Business

Agritourism  is a business venture located on a working farm, ranch, or agricultural enterprise that provides an “experience” for visitors while generating supplemental income for the owner. Pay close attention to the fact that it is a business venture and those contemplating a new business should approach agritourism from the business side.

To learn more about the opportunities click here.

Monday, August 3, 2015

12 Steps to a Successful Agritourism Business

Most agritourism businesses are diversifications of existing businesses. If someone has a farm, he or she may open the farm for educational field trips for children. The farm may have a pumpkin patch, a U-pick operation or a Christmas tree plantation. Landowners with a pine plantation may consider building a cabin in the woods for overnight stays that include horseback riding or fishing in a pond.

To learn more click here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Louisiana Ranchers and Growers Association Annual Meeting

Dr. Roberta McKowen has asked my help in getting the word out about the Louisiana Ranchers and Growers Association Annual Meeting happening on August 15, 2015, beginning at 
9:00 AM

Keller and Roberta McKowen's Farm
3320 Bill McKowen Lane

Jackson, LA 70748

Forages for Livestock and Wildlife
Control of McCartney Rose
Rainfall Simulator
Followed by Annual Business Meeting

R.S.V.P. By August 10th
or calling

Refreshments and Lunch will be served

Friday, July 24, 2015

Farm to Table Experience

I recently read an article by Melinda Johnson promoting farm to table events. In the article Melinda explains the uniqueness of taking a vacation to move from farm to farm and she has four good reasons why everyone should consider it. Read more here

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Produce Marketing Workshops Set For Lake Charles August 27

Louisiana specialty crop producers will have an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of marketing to local groceries, restaurants and other retail outlets during a one-day workshop presented by the LSU AgCenter.

The program will include sessions on communication and relationship-building with buyers; good business practices, such as invoicing, insurance and delivery; and marketing strategies, such as pricing and packaging.

The MarketReady workshop will be held on August 27 at the Calcasieu Parish Extension Office at 7101 Gulf Hwy, Lake Charles, LA 70607 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

There is no fee, but Pre-registration is required by contacting the LSU AgCenter – Calcasieu Parish Office at 337-475-8812 and ask for Regina, or send an e-mail to

Louisiana MarketReady is funded through a Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Specialty Crop grant.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Try Growing Herbs on Your Farm

If you have limited space try growing herbs. Herbs are very popular in farmers markets today. Well-known chefs and cooking shows have put the spot-light on cooking with herbs. They add flavor to ordinary meals and are healthy.

Dr. KiKi Fontenot, Dan Gill and Robert Williams have authored a publication, "A Guide to Growing a School Herb Garden," that can help the home gardener develop their own herb garden.

The Agritourism Limited Liability Law may be applicable to your operation, contact Dora Ann Hatch at the LSU AgCenter to learn more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Trail Riding

Trail riding is a great way to experience the outdoors and have fun with others.  In Louisiana, we have lots of different types of terrain: flat, hilly, forested, rocky, water, fields and combinations of all. Each terrain provides fun for the rider.

If you own horses, consider offering trail rides. Most charge $25-50 per person for the experience. The law provides a limitation for liability for horseback riding. The 2008 Agritourism Limited Liability Law also may be applicable to your operation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Pizza Farms

Martha Glass shares this:

MINNEAPOLIS — As the farm-to-table movement connects more consumers with local farmers, some farms have shortened the distance between the plow and the plate. They're inviting customers over for pizza
On Wednesday nights when the weather is nice, Pat and Tammy Winter serve well over 200 pizzas to guests at their Red Barn Farm near Northfield, about an hour south of Minneapolis. Customers make a picnic out of it, setting up chairs and tables outside the 101-year-old barn and packing in soda, beer and wine. Children chase the chickens and pet the horses while their families wait for pizzas to emerge from wood-fired ovens.

While pizza farms have sprouted across the country as agritourism grows, they're particularly popular in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where they provide small farms with extra income and city dwellers with opportunities to get in touch with their food sources. Farmers and diners alike appreciate that the pizza toppings often were grown or produced onsite.

Most farms keep things simple by requiring guests to bring their own napkins, plates and utensils, and to take their garbage home. They may offer limited, if any, beverages. But this isn't about fine dining; it's about a dining experience, and one that often boasts an unbeatable pastoral setting.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Twelve Year-Old Boy has Agritourism Business

Meet Cameron, a twelve year old who began his agritourism business to buy an X-Box. With his parents help, Cameron started a garden and sold at a road side stand to buy his X-Box.

Cameron and his family are in their third year of gardening.

To learn more about agritourism click here.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Festival Celebrates Peach Harvest in Ruston

The Mitchum Family started growing peaches in 1946 in Ruston and shortly there after the festival began to celebrate the yearly  peach harvest. Today other growers in the area contribute to the market.

Festivals contribute to agritourism and provide opportunities for people to visit your agritourism venues. I recently took a field trip to Mitchums and the owner took us on a tour from harvest to boxing. It was a fun-filled day and one that most people would enjoy. So, create your own version and get started with your agritourism operation.

The peaches are ripe and ready, so travel to Ruston for the Peach Fest on June 26-27th.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Consider Expanding Your Agritourim Operation Through Summer Months

The summertime is a perfect time to launch an agritourism activity. Children are out of school and need something exciting to do. Consider hosting an event on your farm for a day
or for a week. Teach them how to plant, harvest or prepare foods straight from the garden. Imagine their excitement when they return home with a jar of jelly made from the berries they picked. To learn more about how to start an agritourism enterprise, click here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

More Direct Sales Tips

As mentioned in my last post, sales can be tricker than growing your vegetables and fruits. Here are four more tips:

4-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.

5-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.

6-Apologize when things go wrong. 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.

7-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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tips for Direct Sales

Growing fruits and vegetables for some farmers is easy compared to selling the produce through farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) or road-side stands where earning the customers’ trust and loyalty is important. Winning customers over can take time, but can be financially rewarding.
Below are some suggestions:

1-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.

2-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. Tell the customer your name and ask theirs if they do not volunteer it. Ask them what types of fruits and vegetables they like. Let them know what you have today and what you plan to have throughout the season. Ask them how they like certain vegetables. Do they like their summer squash large, or small and tender?  Do they normally shop early in the day or do they shop just before meal preparation time. How do they like their peas? Do they like to buy in small quantities and shell them or would they prefer to buy fresh peas shelled in bulk? These are just a few of the questions that can help you establish a relationship with customer. Remember customers who feel valued, buy and return again and again.

3-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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blueberry Season

We are in the middle of blueberry season for most parishes in Louisiana. You-pick-em farms tend to stay very busy during this season.  The average grower only have one acre, but that's lots of blueberries.

Whether selling on the farm or off the farm remind customers of the nutritional value of blueberries.

“Foods with a lot of color like blueberries have high levels of anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that help keep us healthy,”  says LSU AgCenter nutrition specialist Heli Roy.

Another reason blueberries are important is their ability to neutralize free radicals in the body.

“Free radicals are highly reactive compounds in our body, and we produce them all the time. When we breathe, oxygen is inhaled and carbon dioxide is exhaled,” Roy said. “During the process, free radicals are produced. They are produced excessively when you smoke or drink or by radiation like from the sun.”

That's a great selling point and one that will increase your sells.  Good luck this season!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Why Milk Should be Pasteurized

Unpasteurized, raw milk can harbor several bacteria that can cause severe illness, particularly in young children, the elderly and immune-compromised individuals, said an LSU AgCenter food safety specialist.

Consuming unpasteurized milk creates a greater likelihood of illness, said Wenqing Xu.

Unpasteurized milk has a greater chance to harbor food-borne pathogens, Xu said. These can include campylobacter, listeria, salmonella and E. coil I57:H7 – all of which can cause illness.

“Contamination of raw milk can occur from a variety of microorganisms from a variety of sources,” she said. The risk can occur at any stage of handling.

Illness from any of these pathogens takes a certain dose-response level – the amount of the pathogen required to cause symptoms, said LSU AgCenter dairy science professor Bruce Jenny.

“Unpasteurized milk has a high risk,” Xu said. “Symptoms may vary and may include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. In addition, listeria can cause miscarriage in pregnant women.”

Symptoms can range from minor to severe, depending on the individual and the level of the pathogen present, Jenny said.

Besides milk itself, products made from contaminated milk, such as cheeses and butter, are still unhealthy. “Contamination won’t disappear,” Xu said.

“Our concern is people think raw milk is better, healthier,” she said. But the data show no significant difference in health benefits.

“Unpasteurized milk is not a safe product,” Jenny said. “It has inherent hazards.”


Monday, April 27, 2015

Learn to Bird with an App

Roselie Overby, above, shared with participants at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife  Refuge during Earth Day how to bird using apps to identify bird songs.

What a great idea, for agritourism operators to take advantage of birding.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) Farm Service Agency today announced that nearly 2,700 applicants will begin receiving disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses experienced from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2014.

The program, re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides disaster relief to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs. Eligible losses may include excessive heat or winds, flooding, blizzards, hail, wildfires, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions and diseases, or in the case of honeybees, losses due to colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, most of whom suffered honeybee colony losses, represent more than half of ELAP recipients.  To read more, click here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Louisiana Agritourism Connection, April 2015 Edition Available Online

Visit our website and read the April edition of the  "The Louisiana Agritourism Connection," a 
quarterly e-newsletter providing information on how to start, grow or sustain your agritourism venture.

Topics covered in this newsletter include WesMar Farms inclusion in National Geogrpahic’s Gulf Coast map guide, information on home food sales, beekeeper’s inclusion in the Agritourism Limited Liability Law, workshop dates for Annie’s Project, American with Disabilities Act compliance, home gardening tips from LSU AgCenter, horticultural tips from LSU AgCenter and links to marketing sites. Click here to read the entire newsletter.