Malinda Geisler, P&S, Ag Marketing Resource Center
Until 2006, there was no statewide entity discussing agritourism issues. Farm families and small business owners did not know where to go for assistance in agritourism development and promotion.
To coordinate the Iowa Agritourism Working Group. The working group includes representation from several ISU disciplines including the Ag Marketing Resource Center, Value Added Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, and Landscape Architecture.
The group includes statewide involvement by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Ag Innovation Center, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Tourism Office, Iowa Farm Bureau, Practical Farmers of Iowa and Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area.
The Iowa Agritourism Working Group met five times to discuss the needs of the industry. This process included bringing in six agritourism venues to meetings to explain more in depth their needs and challenges. These venues included a winery, you-pick berry patch and orchard, farmers market vendors, on-farm retail and vegetable production, corn maze and pumpkin patch, and hunting preserve.
A producer survey was conducted online during spring 2007. There were 92 completed surveys. The survey provided information on the types of businesses represented, their busy seasons and the number of guests they host annually.
The producer survey also indicated strong interest, 84 percent, in seeing educational programs in agritourism. A one-day conference and Web delivery of materials ranked first and second as most preferred methods of information delivery. Ninety five percent of respondents would like information on marketing followed by Internet sales and financing.
The Iowa Agritourism Working Group has provided producer and service provider feedback on the type of information and delivery desired by agritourism owners. The group will continue to meet to plan and implement an educational workshop. An online producer resource guide is also being compiled.
The producer survey responses, in addition to face-to-face producer presentations, provided feedback on the content and format of future educational programming for Iowa agritourism. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the Iowa Agritourism Working Group, resources and educational programming will be implemented to fulfill the needs of this growing segment of Iowas tourism industry.
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Page last updated:
August 3, 2007
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