Posts Tagged: Penny Leff
The San Diego Union Tribune ran a 1,500-word story on local agritourism last Friday, featuring UC expertise and resources front and center.
UC's agritourism coordinator Penny Leff provided reporter Emily Rizzo with a definition of agritourism, "a commercial enterprise on a working farm or ranch conducted for visitor enjoyment and education that generates supplemental income for owners."
Promoting agritourism in San Diego has been underway for years, but positioning the Southern California city as an agritourism destination, said UC small farm advisor Ramiro Lobo, is a relatively new concept.
In 1993, Taco Bell's founder opened Bell Gardens, a 115-acre educational farm that attracted 100,000 visitors annually to picnic, buy fresh produce and ride a mini-train. The ranch attracted busloads of agritourists but closed in 2003, the article said.
“It was obviously a heavily subsidized operation, but (it) created attention,” Lobo commented. “Entrepreneurial farmers started tapping into this as a real alternative to diversify their income stream.”
San Diego County now has more than 100 self-identified agritourism businesses, Lobo told the reporter.
Leff and Lobo agree that consumers want to visit real agricultural operations and have a keen sense when it comes to discerning hokey operations from working farms.
“You don’t have to create a Disneyland,” Lobo said. “We want working farmers to be able to capitalize on this without having to spend a ton of money to create something artificial. Pseudo-farms, for the most part, never really did a great job. Those have come and gone.”
Among the UC agritourism resources mentioned in the story were:
- The UC California Agricultural Tourism Directory, which highlights farms and ranches to visit and upcoming events, at CalAgTour.org.
- University of California Cooperative Extension in San Diego County
U-pick operations are a form of agritourism.
San Francisco consumers learned of educational and fun opportunities for agritourism from a clip on KGO-TV news yesterday about a trend that boosts the bottom line for farmers involved in quaint agricultural industries.
The segment focused on an organic dairy in Petaluma, an apple U-pick operation in Sebastopol and a sustainable farm that offers over-night stays also in Sebastopol.
"People come from all over the world, although there are many people who just come from San Francisco or Sacramento; it's a short drive to us, it's an easy weekend," Christine Cole of Full House Farm told the reporter.
"More agritourism businesses increase tourism to the county overall," Leff said. "If there are more things for people to do when they are visiting the community, they are more likely to stay overnight. And they are more likely to eat at restaurants in town. Generally there's a great spill over from agritourism businesses to community development."
The TV story also plugged the ANR publication Planning and Managing Agritourism and Nature Tourism Enterprises: A Handbook, and the Small Farm Program's online database of California agritourism operations, http://calagtour.org.
UC publication for farmers interested in agritourism.