On August 19, 2021, the Agriculture Economic Development and Planning Community of Practice hosted an online webinar where participants had a chance to learn more about recent agri-tourism research and initiatives across the province.
Two main initiatives discussed in the webinar were:
Sarah Parish, a University of Guelph alumni, researched Agri-tourism as a solution for rural revitalization in Brock, Scugog, and Uxbridge. Through the process of interviews with Agri-tourism operators, both new and old, and members of OFA and Durham Farm Fresh, Sarah was able to address three main objectives: why farm operations have diversified, how diversifying has helped the farm operation, and what local or regional government is doing to support Agri-tourism operations.
Through her research, Sarah found that Agri-tourism is typically the “next-stage” in a farmer’s life; small-scale family farms in North Durham have largely experienced a positive benefit since diversifying through Agri-tourism; and government development regulations and operation requirements make Agri-tourism businesses difficult to operate.
In 2019, the Agri-tourism Working Group was formed after Simcoe County recognized support was needed initiating growth in the Agri-tourism sector.
The Working Group’s main deliverable was to create a written agri-tourism toolkit. TCI Management Consultants and Wilton Consulting Group conducted research, completed surveys and interviews, engaged with the community, and analyzed their findings to create the agri-tourism Toolkit with Simcoe County.
The toolkit includes four main sections: Prepare, Plan, Launch, and Evaluate. It provides advice and tips from the research conducted, links to useful resources, contact information for various municipal staff and relevant organizations, printable worksheets, and examples of best practices.
Key takeaways from the webinar:
- Younger generations are bringing people to the farm, leading the way in agri-tourism
- Agri-tourism is a great way to expand current operations and stimulate growth in the community
- Providing information upfront to business partners, regional staff, and customers can help make agri-tourism easier to navigate and accomplish
To learn more about the Simcoe County Agri-Tourism Toolkit, Sarah’s research and the other initiatives discussed, please visit the Google Drive.