As many of you have been in the throws of preparing and now beginning a busy Fall season, your Georgia Agritourism Association has also been busy wrapping up projects and creating useful tools for you. Over the past month, GAA has finalized the Agritourism 101 Guide that will be revealed in the coming weeks, begun planning the 2018 Georgia Agritourism Annual Conference (more details below), finished up the 1st GAA FAM Media Tour, and recorded the Agritourism Customer Service Webinar Series. As you can all agree, the amount of preparation, planning, work, detail, and collaboration that goes into your agritourism operations as well as the few items listed above can get lost. But I’d like to give a HUGE THANKS to your GAA Staff, Board of Directors, and several GAA members for the hours of time to make these and the items in the newsletter below possible.
We are always looking for volunteers to help with projects or serve on the GAA Board of Directors. If you are interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the GAA office (706) 845-9085.
I’m praying you all have a wonderful fall!
Executive Director, GAA
Registration is now open for the 2018 Georgia Agritourism Annual Conference! This year's conference will be held March 5-6 at Unicoi State Park & Lodge in Helen, GA! Early bird rates are $199 for GAA members and $229 for non-members. Register today!
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Mark's Melon Patch is located in southwest Georgia just outside the little town of Sasser, and is well known for having some of the freshest produce around. For the past 30 years, families from across the state and country have visited the Highway 82 roadside market for their delicious fresh fruits, vegetables, and family fun atmosphere. Mark's Melon Patch offers a little extra fun this time of year with their night time hayrides, usually the last Wednesday thru Saturday before Halloween. They carve 100 jack-o-lanterns and place along the hayride path, along with tiki torches for additional lighting. Mark says it is a family- friendly hayride with just a "touch" of scary! They also offer special Flashlight nights through their corn maze on these nights. For more information, visit their website at http://marksmelonpatch.com/.
The Georgia Agritourism Association is pleased to present you, the GAA membership, with The Agritourism Customer Service Webinar Series This series has been recorded to allow operators or employees to review or train at your convenience. They focus on the following topics:
Webinar 1: What is Customer Servie and Why is it Important?
Webinar 2: The Right People - Your Most Important Asset
Webinar 3: Keeping Visitors Safe on the Farm
Webinar 4: Food Safety on the Agritourism Farm
Whether you have a robust customer service program and employee training or nothing at all, these webinars should help provide insight to create a customer service program for your operation and training for your employees. As a bonus, you will receive the brand new GAA Customer Service Manual with much more information, photos, and examples.
As GAA President, Caroline Lewallen, has written about in the past, there are several campaigns this fall to highlight agritourism in Georgia. #1 - We’ve been honored to work with the Georgia Dept of Agriculture to create three promotional opportunities with WSB focused on corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and Christmas Tree farms/lots on farms. This includes special interest articles highlighting the participating farms. The pumpkin patch campaign is currently live. You can see the articles 1) HERE, 2) HERE, and 3) HERE as well as view the WSB map locator and farm highlight HERE. #2 – The Georgia Tourism Division has been working on a Fall social media campaign using #ExploreGeorgiaFarms. Don’t miss the fun! And #3 – There are so many people (potential customers and promoters of Georgia agritourism) at the Georgia National Fair in Perry this month. If you have forgotten about it and have a fall agritourism operation, batten down the hatched and prepare for the droves of additional customers that are looking to flock to the farm.
GAA has also begun working on a new promotional campaign to take place in several of the state Visitor Information Centers (VICs) located mainly on major interstates. This Spring/Summer 2018 promotional campaign is intended to create engaging props and displays to interest potential consumer to take an alternate route and visit a farm as they head to their final destination. There will also be a push to make sure staff members at these VICs have great information about GAA member farms. As consumers stop at these displays or props, VIC staff then have an opportunity to engage them about where they are coming from, where they are going, what are their interests, then show them agritourism farms close by or on the other end of the state toward their destination. If you have worked with a marketing company that you would recommend, please let us know by sending a quick email to email@example.com.
Hillcrest Orchards in Ellijay has a unique twist to a fall maze - they use apples! Hundreds of apple trees are planted espalier fashion on wires, with trees reaching a full height of seven feet. The trees form a life-size puzzle of paths along alleys, featuring five different kinds of apples. For more information on the Southeast's first apple tree maze, visit their website.
August 2017 witnessed the first FAM Media Tour hosted by GAA. GAA board members Wendy Barton (Lane's Southern Orchards), Anna Messer (The Rock Ranch) and Cynde Dickey (Dickey Farms) created and hosted the tour on behalf of the Association. There were seven bloggers/writers from across the state who participated in the FAM tour and they seemed to have a blast over the two days. Each was challenged to not only write about the agritourism farms they visited but also to help get their readership excited about finding an agritourism farm near them.
The agenda of stops is HERE. You can also read several of the blogs and posts: Just Peachy Keen with the Peachy Queen, Southern Fried Nutrition: Farm to Fun, and Turning the Clock Back: How to Support Local Farmers. A search of Twitter for #ExploreGeorgiaFarms also reveals lots of comments from our hosted bloggers. One of the bloggers provided this overview of the Social Media statistics during the FAM Tour. This information can be valuable to many of you or help you decide you want to host your own FAM Tour one day.
The FAM Tour Committee stated several times, “The FAM Tour was amazing and the bloggers are really coming through with amazing posts. Several were so excited about agritourism they are continuing to reach out to members to do more visits and postings.” Hopefully GAA can host more in the future and showcase as many GAA Member farms as possible!
GAA members may download a print-ready, agritourism-specific educational activity sheet to use on your farm for school field trips or ways to enhance a general visit. Insert your logo into the placeholder to make it customized to your farm. All activity sheets are based on GA Dept of Education standards and reinforces principles learned on farms. Download one of the five (5) activity sheets today.
Got questions or need help? Contact your GAA Staff today at (706) 845-9085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.