Madison County is known for its tourism of hiking, fishing, and rafting but adds in the agriculture component that makes up 19 million dollars of total gross annual income for the county and it can be a win-win situation. Many of our farmers could diversify their farm through this business model of creating an Agritourism component on their farm.
Cooperative Extension conducted a 6-week course on “The Business of Agritourism.” This course included business planning, marketing, and an introduction to what Agritourism actually is by N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services standards. N.C. Cooperative Extension of Madison County partnered with Asheville Buncombe Technical College and their Small Business Center to make these workshops happen. The make up of the group was varied from half farmers who already were doing some form of Agritourism to farmers who had not yet begun.
Extension’s impact was that we reached 73 participants over the entire course and those participants come in from 4 different states. All participants agreed that they left with a greater understanding of risk management, break-even analysis, and the legal considerations for entering into Agritourism. Because of this class farmers were to able to conclude how to profitably diversify their farms and become more sustainable.