The number of North Carolina farms welcoming visitors has skyrocketed in the last 10 years, increasing by 89 percent. Moreover, the diversity of agritourism-related activities has increased. There are still plenty of pick-your-own strawberry fields and corn mazes, but today’s farmers also are offering weekend farm stays, weaving workshops and even goat yoga to entice visitors to their farms.
The N.C. Agritourism Networking Association was founded as a way for agritourism farms to connect, learn from each other and grow their operations. The organization will be holding its 12th annual conference Feb. 12-13 in Winston-Salem. The two-day event features a bus tour of five Piedmont agritourism farms; a farmer Q&A session at Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler’s personal farm; and a full-day of workshops with three tracts for beginner, intermediate and experienced operations.
If you’re a current agritourism farm, or have ever considered opening your farm gates to visitors, this is the conference for you. Still not convinced? Here are the top five reasons to attend the 2018 N.C. Agritourism Farm Tour and Conference:
1. The Farm Tours
Farm tours have been a part of the conference for several years, but 2018 promises to be one of the best tours yet. Attendees will get to visit a Christmas tree farm and working dairy; see the largest zipline course on the East Coast; tour an old dance hall that has been converted into a wedding venue; and see a bicentennial farm that offers skills and workshop classes for all ages.
2. The Homeplace of Browns Summit
Commissioner Troxler is not only a farmer, he’s an agritourism farmer. Guests will have the chance to take part in an exclusive farmers panel discussion at The Homeplace of Browns Summit.
3. The Workshops
Have you ever sat in a workshop and said, “I already know that?” You’re not the only one. That’s why conference organizers have created three tracts of programming tailored for agritourism operators at the beginning, intermediate and experienced stages of development.
4. The Networking
This conference is not only full of expert advice from industry leaders, it is also full of networking opportunities to learn from your peers across the state. Structured networking opportunities are sprinkled into the agenda along with breaks between sessions to offer the chance for informal networking.
5. The Value
If you leave with just one new idea to implement on your farm, this conference has paid for itself. However, most people will leave with a dozen or more ideas to improve their operations, cut costs, and add value to their farm.
Registration is now open for the 2018 conference. Participants can take advantage of an early-bird discount until Jan. 6. Check out the N.C. Agritourism Networking Association’s website for more information and to register online.