Bringing the University to You
Fact Sheet 05-38
Agritourism: Opportunity for Farm
Diversification in Nevada
Kynda R. Curtis, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Resource Economics, College of
Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, University of Nevada, Reno
Joseph Monson, Undergraduate Research Assistant, University of Nevada, Reno
When you hear the word “vacation”, you common tourism activities. Typical
may picture sunny beaches in Maui, attractions at agritourism destinations
historical monuments in Washington D.C., include farm tours, hay rides, educational
or twisty roller coasters at Six Flags. demonstrations, fresh produce markets,
Although these places can be relaxing, picnic areas, and cozy cafes. Elaborate
enlightening, and entertaining, they are agritourism destinations usually provide
nearly always crowded with other overnight accommodations in the form of
vacationers. As a result, vacations can often bed and breakfasts, bunkhouses, or
end up being more stressful than the hectic campgrounds.
everyday environment left behind.
For those who wish to enjoy a peaceful
and edifying getaway and want to avoid
urban crowds in the process, rural tourism is
a unique alternative. Rural tourism is
defined as “the natural life tourism, through
which the customer may access the natural
environment as opposed to commercially
developed tourist activities and locations”
(Hill et al., 1996, pg. 50). In general, rural
tourism encompasses any recreational or
leisure activity in the countryside. One of Why Agritourism?
the fastest growing sectors of rural tourism The majority of farmers choose
is farm tourism, which is also commonly agritourism enterprises to develop an
referred to as agritourism. additional source of income to their
Farm tourism has taken on several traditional agricultural practices. Over the
definitions throughout the years. Two of the past century, farming has become more
more recent definitions are: “rural technologically advanced than ever before.
enterprises which include both a working In turn, many small-scale farmers, due to
farm environment and a commercial tourism economies of scale have been forced out of
component” (Weaver and Fennell, 1997, pg. the industry completely or have found
357), and “an alternative farm enterprise alternative sources of revenue. Thus, many
comprising one of several possible pathways small-scale farmers have found farm tourism
of farm business development” (Ilbery et al., to be an efficient means to supplement their
1998, pg. 355). The list of attractions that declining farm incomes, while still running
can be found within the farm tourism their valued farming operation. Other
industry is extensive, yet unparalleled to farmers have completely abandoned their
traditional farming processes, because the
Why Agritourism in Nevada?
profits from their agritourism business
o Large population centers and
vastly outweigh those of their previous tourist destinations to draw from.
operation. However, in order to have a o Opportunity to expand farm income
successful agritourism enterprise, it is and decrease risk through
necessary for farmers to maintain a level of diversification.
real agricultural activities on their land to o Community economic development
preserve the traditional farming ambience opportunities.
(Busby and Rendle, 2000). o Satisfying interaction with learning
Along with maintaining a sense of motivated visitors.
authenticity, individuals involved in the
farm tourism industry must also be aware of Approaching Agritourism
specific elements of the servicescape One way to gain knowledge about
(Coomber and Lim, 2004). The tourists and the tourism industry is to
servicescape consists of ambient conditions network with individuals who run similar
that affect one or more of the five senses. agritourism businesses. In Georgia, a group
On a farm tour, variables such as the noise of ten winery owners recently joined
level, the amount of odor lingering in the air, together to form Southwest Georgia
the outdoor temperature, the number and Escapes, a cooperative that aims to market
size of signage around the farm, and south-western Georgia as a single
convenience all affect the servicescape and agritourism destination (Scroggs, 2004).
can play a major role in the customers’ level Along with sharing information with
of satisfaction with the tour (Coomber and analogous suppliers, farm tourism
Lim, 2004). enterprises can also benefit by networking
with complementary businesses that can add
to the overall experience. For example, if an
agritourism operation is close to a lake, it
may be advantageous for the owner to form
a relationship with a local charter fishing
company. By networking in this manner,
not only would the tourists’ experience of
the countryside be more complete, but both
neighboring businesses would be able to
earn revenue from the same customers.
Another marketing necessity employed
by many successful agritourism enterprises
is an easily accessible Web site. According
to an article published in USA Today, web
For many farmers who have lived on a
sites can provide a more valuable channel
farm for most of their life, ambient
for advertising agritourism businesses than
conditions such as farm noise and smells do
radio or television (Groppe, 2004). With a
not bother them. Conversely, for tourists
Web site, owners of farm tourism operations
who have never previously set foot on a
can efficiently keep prospective visitors up-
farm, these surroundings may adversely
to-date about events and products at their
influence their enjoyment. Hence, when
farms. However, one major drawback to
farmers decide to make the transition from
this marketing method is the lack of Internet
traditional agricultural to agritourism, it is
access in many rural areas where farm
necessary that they understand their
tourism thrives (Groppe, 2004). Yet, while
customers (Busby and Rendle, 2000).
many farmers may be without Internet
access, the majority of tourists can easily have been selling fresh produce to farm
connect (Ribeiro and Marques, 2002). New visitors. Today, while they continue to sell
tourists are more experienced travelers, products from farm produce stands, they
more educated, and wealthier. Thus, also service a larger customer base by
Internet marketing on behalf of agritourism attending ten nearby farmers’ markets.
destinations is a highly effective way to Along with fresh produce, the Lattins also
reach this audience. Additionally, by sell specialty breads, muffins, brownies,
capturing an audience with an above average homemade jams, and dill pickles.
purchasing power, owners of farm tourism Other than purchasing high quality food
enterprises can expect higher cash inflows products, visitors at Lattin Farms can enjoy
(Ribeiro and Marques, 2002). a hayride around the farm, a walking antique
While many modern tourists lack an tour, multiple flower and herb gardens, a 10-
understanding of farming and farm life, their acre pumpkin patch, and a spacious picnic
desire to be educated on and show an and barbeque area. In addition to the
appreciation for the subject seems to be complete farm ambience, Lattin Farms is
increasing. In fact, a recent survey home to one of the largest corn mazes in the
conducted by the University Georgia Center state. This five-acre attraction is open
for Agribusiness and Economic annually from August through October,
Development, shows that agritourism is while the corn is high. Each year, the
gaining popularity among people, especially challenging corn maze takes on a new
those who want to take different types of theme. Last year’s space-themed maze (A-
vacations (Scroggs, 2004). Maze-in Space) was designed by Adrian
Fisher, a world famous maze-designer from
Steps to Agritourism
London who holds multiple records in the
o Determine the potential attendance at
Guinness Book of World Records for his
your farm. Is the farm near a major
work in maze design. According to Rick
o Network with others in your local Lattin, the twelve-foot high corn maze is the
agritourism industry. biggest draw of visitors to his farm.
o Investigate marketing avenues, such
as farmers’ markets and Internet
o Consider visitor friendly adjustments
that may need to be made on the
o Investigate legal and financial
aspects of converting your farm to a
Example of Nevada Agritourism
Located in Fallon, Nevada, Lattin Farms
offers a complete farm experience for
tourists of all ages. Though its current Due to the popularity of the corn maze,
owners, Rick and B. Ann Lattin, are the Lattins have taken extra precautions over
relatively new to the agritourism business, the past few years to ensure the safety and
they are both experienced farmers. wellbeing of the farm visitors. Specifically,
According to Rick Lattin (March 2005), the they have hired extra part-time workers to
Lattin family has farmed in the Lahontan monitor the maze, installed better lighting
Valley for five generations. Since Rick and around the maze, and expanded the parking
B. Ann took over Lattin Farms in 1977, they area. Not only have these changes made
Lattin Farms a safer place to visit, they have The NRCS publication “Taking the First
also helped to enhance the overall Step: Farm and Ranch Alternative Enterprise
experience for tourists at the farm. and Agritourism Resource Evaluation Guide” is
Along with tourist visits, Lattin Farms available online at
hosts tours for several thousand elementary http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/RESS/al
school students each year. For many tenterprise/.
students, an educational field trip to Lattin
Farms is the first time they have ever been References
exposed to agriculture and the systems of a Busby, Graham, and Samantha Rendle.
working farm. To aid in the learning “The transition from tourism on farms to
process of the students that visit the farm, farm tourism.” Tourism Management
employees of Lattin Farms have compiled a 21.8, 2000:635–642.
series of related educational topics that meet Coomber, L., and C. Lim. “Farm Tourism:
the state standards for each grade level. For A Preliminary Study of Participants’
example, a first-grader should be able to use Expectations and Perceptions of Farm
his or her five senses to investigate the Tours.” International Environmental
natural aspects of the farm, while a sixth- Modelling and Software Society, 2004.
grader is expected to be able to describe how Groppe, Maureen. “Farmers strike pay dirt
farm machinery uses motion. with Web.” USA Today May 19, 2004.
Hill, D., E. Sunderland, C. O’Cathain, and
G. Daily. “Rural Tourism Development
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Ilbery, B., I. Bowler, G. Clark, A. Crockett,
and A. Shaw. “Farm-based tourism as
an alternative farm enterprise.” Regional
As Lattin Farms and other agritourism Studies 32.4, 1998:355-364.
enterprises prepare for another successful Lattin, Rick. Interview conducted at Lattin
growing season and tourist rush, many other Farms in March of 2005. Also, see the
traditional farms are beginning to take Lattin Farms Web site, last updated
notice. For many small-scale farmers, November 14, 2004, at
agritourism provides an efficient alternative http://www.lattinfarms.com/.
source of income to their conventional Ribeiro, Manuela, and Carlos Marques.
agricultural practices. Moreover, the “Rural Tourism and the Development of
establishment of farm tourism destinations Less Favored Areas.” International
has given farmers an opportunity to support Journal of Tourism Research 4,
their livelihood and continue to be a part of 2002:211-220.
an industry they love. And for tourists and Scroggs, Craig. “Great Escapes:
vacationers alike, agritourism is an exciting Agritourism co-op helping Georgia
and unique experience that cannot be found farmers diversify.” Rural Cooperatives,
at popular urban attractions. September/October 2004.
Weaver, D. B., and D. A. Fennell. “The
Additional Information vacation farm sector in Saskatchewan: A
The UC Davis Small Farms Center has profile of operations.” Tourism
publications on agritourism and a directory Management 18.6, 1997:357-365.
of agritourism sites in California. See
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