Kansas is well known for being a key agricultural producer in the nation, so it’s no wonder agritourism in Kansas is booming as well. However, it’s an industry unfamiliar to many. So, what is agritourism exactly?
To put it simply, agritourism is the experience of combining traditional agriculture with tourism. It provides the traveling public and consumers an educational opportunity while getting to meet and support local farmers and producers. Our office, Kansas Tourism, manages the agritourism program for the state of Kansas.
Many times, visitors are enjoying agritourism activities, but they just aren’t familiar with the official term. Have you ever been to a fall festival? Visited the local pumpkin patch? These are both examples of an agritourism business. The diverse farm experiences in Kansas are vast and are much sought-after, especially for families.
Different agritourism adventures in the Sunflower State include wineries and vineyards, working guest ranches, lodges, orchards and U-picks, arboretums, pumpkin patches, sunflower fields, and many niche operations in between. You can schedule farm tours with YouTube sensation the Peterson Farm Brothers; relax (well, maybe) while doing baby goat yoga; or shop handmade products from luxurious alpaca fiber. The purpose is to keep consumers connected to the farm through education and authentic, real-life, encounters. It’s no secret that Kansas farmers feed the world, but they also feed our souls. Farms big and small have a story to tell, and there are visitors near and far willing to make the trek and pay to experience to these agricultural destinations.
You see the slogans and hear the phrase, “Support your local farmers.” So how does agritourism do that? Of course, there is the economic impact of going to these farm attractions and spending money because after all, farming is a business. There is the support of sharing your experiences and telling others in the community about these agritourism businesses. Then there is the social and emotional impact for both the producers and the visitors.
When someone opens an agritourism business, there is a passionate principle behind the matter. This person or family has something special to share with others. Maybe it’s a craft, a perfected product, or the desire to educate others. When visiting these farms, there is a gift exchange: the farmer getting to showcase their product and share their story, and the consumer getting to learn about an agricultural practice or product.
More now than ever, most consumers are disconnected from the farm and the people that grow their food, but there is a growing consumer desire to reconnect and be educated in all aspects of farming or homesteading. Just as you want your children exposed to arts, culture, nature and sports, we need to introduce agricultural activities into their extracurriculars.
To learn more about agritourism in Kansas, go to travelks.com.There we have farm experiences broken down by interest, such as Farm to Table, or Farm Fresh Fun. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about becoming a registered agritourism business, we also have resources on our website for farmers looking to diversify their operation — and a Kansas agritourism manual for getting started.
Sharples-Terry, public relations and communications manager for Kansas Tourism, is an outdoor enthusiast who lives near Lake Perry in Oskaloosa, where she raises flowers, vegetables and her three children.
Kansas Tourism aims to inspire travel to and throughout Kansas to maximize the positive impacts that tourism has on the state and local communities. For more trip inspiration and to order a free Kansas Travel Guide, head to travelks.com.