Happy New Year 2018! While I certainly enjoy this time of year to rest and ramp up for the new opportunities in agritourism, somehow I find my January almost as busy as September. No rest for the weary, right? I hope you have each taken the time to mark your calendars for our annual conference March 5-6. The first day will be our farm tour where we will visit 5 Northeast Georgia agritourism operations followed by a dinner with a guest speaker. Tuesday of course is jam packed with a variety of topics, speakers, and exhibitors that are excellent folks to network with. Because there is not enough time in the two days to hear from every operator, and not every operator is comfortable speaking, I'd like to ask you to participate in a slide show that we will play during the March 5th dinner. The goal is to share ideas of something you have learned or done on your farm in the past year (s). For example I saw that Mercier Orchards hosts a kids cookie baking class before the holidays - how fun!
Thus, if you plan on attending the 2018 GAA conference, please submit to Debbie Alexander your 1) idea/activity/event 2) one or two photos of the idea/activity/event and 3) three bullet points describing the event. Other examples:
- New bakery item for your market and why you chose to offer it
- New display of your special item that you grow - from apples to meats to zucchini
- New flavor of ice cream
- Christmas wreaths made from scraps of the trees you have for sale at the holidays
- New way to prune blackberries or lay plastic for u-pick crops
- Wine tasting event
- Field trip station rotation
- Over night stay on the farm
- Best way to network with your local news station
The sky is the limit. We hope you'll participate and network with others to learn more about what each of us are doing at our operations. Deadline for the photos and bullet points is: Friday, February 23.
Questions, feel free to reach out to me!
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!
The conference will kick off with a full-day Farm Tour with visits to Glo-Crest Dairy & Mountain Fresh Creamery, Sweet Acre Farms & Winery, Jaemor Farms, Blackhawk Farm and Fly Fishing, and Hillside Orchards Farm . Make plans to join us and register today!
From MSN News.....
When Picking Apples on a Farm With 5,000 Rules, Watch Out for the Ladders
ALTAMONT, N.Y. — For eight weeks every fall, Indian Ladder Farms, a fifth-generation family operation near Albany, kicks into peak season. The farm sells homemade apple pies, fresh cider and warm doughnuts. Schoolchildren arrive by the busload to learn about growing apples. And as customers pick fruit from trees, workers fill bins with apples, destined for the farm’s shop and grocery stores.
This fall, amid the rush of commerce — the apple harvest season accounts for about half of Indian Ladder’s annual revenue — federal investigators showed up. They wanted to check the farm’s compliance with migrant labor rules and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets pay and other requirements for workers. Suddenly, the small office staff turned its focus away from making money to placating a government regulator.
This is life on the farm — and at businesses of all sorts. With thick rule books laying out food safety procedures, compliance costs in the tens of thousands of dollars and ever-changing standards from the government and industry groups, local produce growers are a textbook example of what many business owners describe as regulatory fatigue.
To read the full story, click here.
Three Oaks Farm and Equestrian Services in Brunswick began with horseback riding throughout the forested area surrounding the farm and a small petting zoo. In 2008 they acquired the horseback riding facilities and horse-drawn narrated carriage tour program on Jekyll Island. The petting zoo was also expanded to include over a dozen enclosures with educational signs. Although Three Oaks is primarily a horse farm, their activities also include: birthday parties, church and school functions, a large camp program for children, horse-drawn narrated carriage tours of the Jekyll Island historic district, horseback riding on Driftwood Beach, wedding Carriage rentals, a pony wheel, a Boy Scout and Girl Scout badge program, a college volunteer agricultural program, and riding lessons. Three Oaks has been featured in many magazines, (Southern Living and Travel and Leisure),and has been featured in many television shows, movies, commercials, and country music videos.
Operator Tommie Crum says "Becoming a Georgia agritourism site was a natural step forward for our farm as we were already an established tourism location. Since our awareness of Georgia agritourism and the different support systems and programs that are offered for agritourism businesses, we have been very blessed to gain more knowledge and awareness of other farms and issues that they are facing that are so similar to ours. Georgia agritourism groups are very helpful in proliferating education on the issues that agritourism businesses face as well as connecting the general public to the farms that provide these activities. We are very thankful to be part of the Georgia Agritourism Association and to glean from the many educational opportunities that they provide to members!"
Read more about Three Oaks at http://www.threeoaksfarm.org/ .
From the agritourism gurus at Agritourism Ideas....
Why and how to keep in touch with your guests even in the months you are not open for business
A typical Agritourism business will concentrate their marketing budget and efforts to those few weeks leading up to and carrying in to that primary Agritourism season. That marketing effort is critical to a successful season but is not the only marketing that should be taking place throughout the year. This article will focus on those things you can do during the long off-season to keep your guests engaged and looking forward to when your doors are open again.
Social Media & Email
Stay in the mind of your customers even if you have nothing to sell that time of year. Make it interesting! Do your best to be creative with your posts. Don’t just post a random quote or update on what you are doing, but make it about events or happenings at your farm that will appeal to a broad audience. Maybe post the announcement of a new baby animal born on the farm, or the dates of a special event you have planned for your season, or some other thing that is “news-worthy” and will remind your followers of what you do.
Make it interactive! The best way to get your followers engaged is by giving them something to do with that post or email in order to be part of that announcement. You could offer a photo contest where you ask them to submit their cutest photo taken at your venue or ask them to vote for a name of a newborn animal. Increase the activity around your posts or emails by including some incentive for engagement such as a free ticket for the fall or a T-shirt.
Look for opportunities to get your business involved in the community events. You could volunteer to be a guest speaker at your elementary school to talk about some farm related topic. Be sure to bring educational material with you for the kids that includes a coupon for your business in the fall. This keeps you fresh in the mind of the teachers and may open discussions for field trip business and some of those papers will make it home to the parents.
Read the full article here.
Mercier Orchards hosted their holiday children's bakery class on Saturday, December 23rd. Children were able to make gingerbread houses and chocolate suckers, and gained valuable hands-on experiece in the kitchen. Mercier offers these children bakery classes at various times throughout the year, and they are always a hit!