Rutland – Whether offering a farm stay experience, farm stand, pick-your-own operation or barn tours for groups, many Vermont farms are turning to agritourism, education and direct sales to supplement their farm income and increase profits.
On April 7-8 farmers, agricultural service providers, educators and others interested in exploring agritourism opportunities are invited to attend a two-day conference in Rutland: Welcoming Customers On Your Farm. The event features a full day of farm tours around the Rutland Region, a farm-to-table dinner, guest speakers and up to 20 workshops.
The registration fee is $100, which covers the farm tours and dinner at the Vermont Farmers Food Center on April 7 and all sessions on April 8 at the Paramount Theater and Community College of Vermont. Attendees also may pay per event if unable to attend the full conference.
The deadline to register is March 23. However, walk-ins are welcome, if space is available. A $10 fee will be added to all registrations paid at the door. Conference details and registration information may be found at www.uvm.edu/vtagritourism.
To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, please contact Lisa Chase by March 17 at (802) 257-7967, ext. 311, or (800) 278-5480 (toll-free in Vermont) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The farm tours will introduce participants to four farms in the Rutland region: Hathaway Farm in Rutland Town, Wellsmere Farm in Wells, Larson Farm in Wells, and Someday Farm in Dorset. These working farms host visitors for tours, food classes, summer camps, farm stands, on-farm retail and direct sales. The tour also will stop at Green Mountain College for a briefing on its Farm & Food Project. The day concludes will a farm-to-table dinner with locally-sourced food and a networking event.
On the second day, keynote speaker Meg Southerland, a third generation farmer at Gardenworks Farm in Salem, New York, will talk about agritourism on a century-old family farm. Gardenworks has a farm stand and hosts workshops, barn rentals for special events, dinner theater and other activities. Also on the second day, workshops will be offered on all aspects of opening up a farm to the public – from assessing whether agritgourism is the right decision for a farm to planning for on-farm experiences, marketing, safety and liability, land use and other regulations, and the challenges of working with visitors.
Funding for this conference was made possible in part through a Rural Enterprise Grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. Additional support comes from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission; Rutland Area Farm and Food Link; University of Vermont Extension; Shelburne Farms; Farm-Based Education Network; Vermont Farms! Association; the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing; the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; and Community College of Vermont.