May was a busy month for many of our GAA members. Several farms wrapped up their spring field trip seasons, u-picks began and ended depending on where you're located in the state, peach harvest has kicked off and some members are busy on the weekends hosting weddings, tours, tastings and over-night stays. For those members counting down the days until fall, apple and corn maze seasons will be here soon enough! June is sure to be just as busy!
This month, GAA board members Wendy Barton (Lane's Southern Orchards), Anna Messer (The Rock Ranch) and Cynde Dickey (Dickey Farms) are hosting a FAM tour for bloggers at the end of June. This tour will host ten bloggers from around the state for two days as they tour: Southern Belle Farm, Farmview Market, Mitcham Farms, The Rock Ranch, Dickey Farms, and Lane's Southern Orchards. If you'd like to be involved in helping plan events like this, please let us know.
Please take the time to read the articles below. Some may give you ideas you can implement at your operation.
Have a peachy summer!
- Caroline Lewallen, GAA President
Steve, Tim, and Jennifer McMillan understand what it means to be a family farm operation! Southern Grace Farms is a 7th generation family farm in Berrien County. Through each generation, they have grown traditional row crops of peanuts and cotton that are still a huge part of their operation today. After a tobacco buyout, they ventured into U-Pick Strawberries and Blackberries, opened a country store, and became the first commercial blackberry growers in Georgia. Nineteen years ago, they were ahead of the agritourism trend, but today, with the average community being at least a generation removed from agriculture, people are enjoying visits to the farm and knowing where their food is coming from. Read the full story.
Last month, the Georgia Department of Economic Development announced that the state's tourism industry generated a record-breaking $61.1 billion in business sales including direct, indirect and induced impact in 2016, up 3.5 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics. Georgia welcomed a record-breaking 105 million visitors in 2016, an increase of 3 percent, and visitor spending generated more than $3.2 billion in state and local tax revenue in Georgia.
The numbers are encouraging, showing that leisure travel continues to grow in Georgia, which presents new opportunities for agritourism operators. An increasing number of Georgia visitors are seeking unique travel activities and authentic Southern experiences, and agritourism destinations offer an endless variety of those opportunities.
If you’re looking for ways to increase visitation at your farm without spending any more money, you can’t pass up the marketing opportunities offered by Georgia Tourism. ExploreGeorgia.org, the state’s consumer website for travel planning, is a free marketing opportunity available to any tourism destination in Georgia, and it’s just the starting point for a whole host of promotion opportunities for your agritourism business. Get connected to Georgia Tourism through ExploreGeorgia.org, and you’ll find at least these 10 ways to boost your business.Read the full article here.
Mercier Orchards recently sponsored a fund-raiser on the Farm entitled “Move to the Groove,’ for LUNGevity, the nation's leading lung cancer-focused nonprofit, changing outcomes for people with lung cancer through research, education, and support. Almost $20,000 was raised for the event with both sponsor and in-kind sponsors supporting the event. Four different bands performed and entertained the crowd of over 200 people who enjoyed moving to the groove! View the entire article to see Reasons to host a Fundraiser on a Farm.
As a member of GAA, you have the opportunity to update your member profile to allow consumers to search for your operation through the online destination planning center as well as keep your contact information current. Read the full article here for instructions and tips for a successful membership listing.
GAA Members Ann and Albert Wildes were a part of the Georgia Blueberry Festival held June 2 & 3 in downtown Alma, GA. This was the largest year yet with over 110 vendors. The Wildes said they were grateful for great weather and large crowds. Food, fun, fellowship, arts & crafts, games, entertainment and lots of GEORGIA BLUEBERRIES. They held Civil War enactments too. For more information on what takes place at this annual festival, visit their website.
GAA wants to showcase what YOU'RE doing on your farm! Have a festival? Unique event? Field trip idea? Fun maze attraction? New tasting room? Let us know!
Our membership committee is planning a membership drive for August. Stay tuned for more details! -- Know a farm near you that needs to join? Let us know!