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Workshop on tourism to help northern California farmers

Farmers and ranchers in California's North Coast counties will learn at a University of California Cooperative Extension workshop March 31 how to boost their bottom line by sharing the area's rural charm with tourists.

The program runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Ceago del Lago, a winery near Nice in Lake County that is being developed into a tourism destination by Jim and Katrina Fetzer. Speakers will cover all aspects of setting up or expanding an agritourism or nature tourism venture, and local landowners will give first-hand accounts about how they successfully supplemented their livelihoods by selling the agricultural experience.

The seaside vistas and redwood forests of California's North Coast, including Marin, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Sonoma counties, attract many visitors, making the area particularly well suited for agritourism. The region is also home to numerous small, family-owned and organic vineyards, vegetable farms and orchards.

The workshop agenda follows the newly updated 159-page UC reference manual “Agritourism and Nature Tourism in California,” which will be provided to each registered participant. Speakers and moderators take the participants though the handbook chapter by chapter, covering topics that include the market for agritourism and nature tourism, strategies for beginning and building the business, and developing a business plan. A local insurance agent will lead the session on the risk management process and local agritourism operators will discuss marketing, advertising and public relations. Small-group discussion sessions, facilitated by experts, will offer additional detail on specific issues. Ceago del Lago is at 5115 E. Highway 20 in Nice. Registration for the workshop is $30 per person. (There is a $15 fee per additional person without the manual.) To register with a credit card by secure Web site, go to

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