AgritourismSD is an intensive educational program designed to provide farmers and ranchers with the opportunity to create an enterprise that utilizes resources in different ways to generate new income streams.
What is Agritourism?
Agritourism is at the crossroads of tourism and agriculture. It links agricultural production and processing with tourism to attract visitors to a farm or ranch for the purpose of entertaining and educating visitors while generating additional income for the agriculture operation. Some examples of agritourism include:
- Accommodations and lodging: farm stays, guest ranches, B&B's, camping
- Educational activities: farm-ranch work experiences, tours, demonstrations
- Entertainment and events: corn mazes, farm dinners, weddings, campfires, stargazing
- On-farm direct sales: U-pick, farm stands, farm products, outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, photography, horseback riding, hiking
At the end of the AgritourismSD program, you will:
- Understand and develop the ‘big picture approach’ to building a successful enterprise, which includes a business plan.
- Assess your agritourism potential and evaluate emerging opportunities in agritourism.
- Identify and prioritize the legal liability issues affecting your business and develop a solid action plan for addressing these issues.
- Develop innovative marketing strategies to effectively reach your target audience.
- Understand the concept of ‘co-opetition’ and how to partner with others to build regional competitiveness.
- Network with your peers and experts to share best practices and build confidence.
There are five major components of the AgritourismSD program:
- Interactive workshops: Classroom instruction will cover all aspects of developing an agritourism enterprise, including: hospitality, liability, marketing, business management and financial considerations. Workshops will generally start mid-morning on the first day and include an overnight stay. The meeting will conclude by mid-afternoon the second day.
- Case studies of successful agritourism enterprises: Agritourism businesses are unique to each operation and how they utilize their resources. The case studies featured represent many agritourism aspects. The case study coaches will host tours of their operations and lead discussions about history, management philosophy, and decision-making criteria. All case study experiences will serve as jumping off points for participants to use their creativity in taking ideas and making them their own. The four agritourism systems themes that will be observed throughout the project include: 1) entertainment, 2) farm and ranch stays, 3) hosting tours and 4) outdoor recreation.
- Web-based interaction: Throughout the AgritourismSD program, participants will be expected to interact on webinars and other web-based networking activities. They are required to have their own computer with high-speed internet access. Participants may be asked to bring a laptop to workshops. Google Classroom will be used to house the assignments and information relevant to the program. Each participant will be required to set up a Google account and access it on a regular basis. A private Facebook group with access limited to participants, project team and mentors will allow a managed, yet informal exchange of ideas among participants.
- Travel study trips: Travel study trips will be conducted to expose participants to agritourism opportunities and operations outside of the state. The goal of the trips is to visit and learn from well-established businesses and to see the wide variety of opportunities beyond what is currently developed in South Dakota. Lack of involvement in the face-to-face meetings, homework and overall participation may disqualify you from the out-of-state trips.
- Networking: Networking opportunities are available throughout the program. In every aspect of the program design, there will be interaction with experts that will help you develop all parts of your business. There will be opportunities to interact with other enterprises both in and out-of-state. Peer-to-peer networking is critical and will be encouraged, both formally and informally.
Who Should Apply?
Applicants must be involved in production agriculture and have less than 10 years of agritourism experience, or possess a strong desire to start an agritourism business in the future. AgritourismSD is brought to you by beefSD. If you are an alumnus of beefSD and interested in developing your agritourism enterprise, we encourage you to apply.
The key to a successful agritourism business is you must be willing to share information about your farm/ranch and spend time making customers feel welcome. The ideal agritourism host requires many of the same personality traits that make a good host at any tourist attraction or in the service industry.
Some important questions that you should evaluate:
- Do you enjoy entertaining guests?
- Are you ok with groups of people?
- Do you have a passion for sharing agriculture with the public?
- Will you enjoy having groups visit your farm/ranch?
- Can you create a safe and inviting atmosphere for people visiting your operation?
- Can you manage the additional business responsibilities associated with an agritourism operation? (Marketing, employee management, and customer relations).
- Are you willing to create the ideal “experience” for your customers?
- Are you willing to work and “entertain” visitors on weekends, evenings and holidays, when they are most-often available to come to your farm?
If you answered “yes” or “I think so” to many of these questions, agritourism may be a viable option for you. The AgritourismSD program will help you address all these questions and much more. You don’t have to have these answers—just be willing to explore the "yes" side more!
If you answered “no” to many of these questions, perhaps an agritourism enterprise is not your fit. It's possible another family member or an employee may be better-suited to the program.
If you are applying through one of the three community HUBs (Faulkton, Timber Lake or Wall), please note that you will be required to also participate in community activities and work to develop the larger component of a HUB. You will work with a community coach and other community leaders to develop an agritourism partnership between your community and your agritourism operation. Expect up to six meetings over the 2-year commitment to the program in your local community.
- AgritourismSD is a two-year commitment starting Summer 2021. Plan to meet face-to-face a total of eight times in 24 months. Be prepared to participate in all program components.
- Up to 30 participants will be selected based on the application and an interview. Husbands and wives, siblings, or direct family members can apply. All individuals must participate in meetings and activities. Children are not allowed at meetings.
- Workshops and activities will take place in and out-of-state. Participants will provide their own transportation to in-state events. Other expenses associated with the meeting motel rooms, meals, out-of-state travel will be covered by AgritourismSD.
- The program is funded through grants and organizations. A registration fee of $1,250 per individual is charged to cover program costs, which is approximately 15% of the total investment the program has per person ($8,000). Payment plans are available.
If you have questions about the AgritourismSD program, please contact one of the following:
- Stacy Hadrick, SDSU Extension beefSD/AgritourismSD Coordinator
- Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist
- Krista Ehlert, SDSU Extension Range Specialist
- Ken Olson, Professor & SDSU Extension Beef Specialist
- Jacey Ellsworth, South Dakota Department of Tourism Industry Outreach & Development Representative
This program is brought to you by the following:
The NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) supports this program (Grant #2020-70017-32421).
SDSU Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer in accordance with the nondiscrimination policies of South Dakota State University, the South Dakota Board of Regents and the United States Department of Agriculture. © 2021, South Dakota Board of Regents.