Agritourism means travel organized around farming, small-scale food production or animal husbandry. Visiting a working farm or ranch for the purpose of enjoyment and education are key parts of this often rural experience. Farmer’s markets, wine tourism, cider houses and corn mazes all constitute examples of agritourism. Travelers who participate in this type of vacation frequently desire to see how food is grown and prepared or to learn how animals are raised.
Sometimes spelled, “agrotourism,” agritourism is the idea of bringing urban residents to rural areas for leisure travel and spending.
In an increasingly mechanized world, many people have lost touch with how their food is produced, or the region where it originated. Agritourism offers tourists a chance to reconnect with the land, providing a “hands on experience” with local foods. Agritourism activities include picking fruits, tasting wine, tending bees, milking cows and other educational pursuits.
Agritourism immerses visitors in the heritage of a particular culture. Take the time to stop by a working farm or ranch, you will most likely discover people with an intimate knowledge of the history and traditions of their region. A traveler to Agros in Cyprus who helps the villagers gather roses in May, will learn something about the area’s history producing rose water. Horseback riding on a dude ranch in Montana offers a glimpse into the lives of cowboys from the “Old West” of the U.S.. A visit to a food museum such as the Musee de la Boulangerie Rurale in Luberon can teach about the history of rural breadmaking in the Provence region of France.
For the most iconic agritourism areas, safeguarding the integrity of their products is nothing less than a source of national pride. In the European Union, Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) look after the integrity of a wide variety of foods, such as Champagne wine in France, Asiago cheese in Italy and Melton Mowbray meat pies in England. All these regions are eponymous with the foods they produce, while a tourism industry has sprung up around that particular food’s production.
Like ecotourism, agritourism focuses on travel that is low-impact and empowering to local communities, both socially and economically. Recognizing the need to diversify their farm products and supplement their agricultural incomes, many farmers consider agritourism as a viable option for the long-term sustainability of their farms. Agritourism can prop up an agricultural economy when local producers can no longer compete economically. The tourism takes place in a farm setting and is secondary to the primary agricultural operation.