Like many agribusiness entrepreneurs, Shana Slossberg and Joe Amsterdam sell their products at farmers markets far and wide. But the Central Pennsylvania couple could do even more business if their customers came to them. That’s why the Perry County Economic Development Authority is turning to agritourism to grow its predominately rural economy (Penn Live).
It’s a strategy being pursued by many jurisdictions whose economies heavily rely on agriculture. As North Carolina farmer Cheryl Ferguson puts it, “We don’t have the industry. We have beauty, natural beauty in this county” (TWC News).
Marketing is a central element to selling tourists on a particular locality. One of the most successful agritourism promoters is Fields of Gold, which markets Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley farm trail. Its website hosts an interactive map which pinpoints locations of farmers markets, wineries and breweries, fishing locations, and more. According to consultancy Chmura Economics and Analytics, agribusiness in the Shenandoah Valley had aneconomic impact of $34 million in 2011 (Northern Virginia Daily).
Another heavyweight is North Carolina, whose agritourism sector had an income of $17.6 million in 2012. One way the state supports this sector is with the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which recently provided three-to-one grant matching for state farms to ramp up their marketing activities (N.C. Cooperative Extension).