World-class Iowa agritourism tours provide training for entrepreneurs

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Iowans interested in beginning or improving their agritourism business will have the opportunity to learn directly from leading agritourism operators and experts during two special Agritourism Entrepreneurship Business Education Tours.

The Community and Economic Development unit of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has partnered with Iowa Economic Development Authority/Iowa Tourism Office to create and expand Iowa agritourism businesses that provide interactive visitor experiences on their working farm or rural setting. According to U.S. Census data, Iowa ranks near the bottom in number of farms generating agritourism income. This new state program was initiated to grow quality, on-farm experiences in Iowa.

Diane Van Wyngarden, ISU Extension and Outreach tourism specialist, will conduct the training. Van Wyngarden has worked with many of this program’s farm hosts for several years while they were developing their agritourism businesses. The tours will feature a variety of agritourism experiences, from tiny-house lodging to larger-farm living, robots to aronia berries, and ruminants to roses. Tour participants will experience each stop as a regular visitor, and then learn business advice from agritourism operators recognized for their specific areas of expertise.

Iowans may register for one or both tours. Pre-registration is required, and seating is limited to one motorcoach on a first-registration basis. The $10 fee for each tour includes farm visits and business-owner sessions, a farm-to-table lunch, and additional agritourism resources. Participants provide their own travel to the motorcoach tour start locations of Donahue or Missouri Valley. Each tour’s start location is supplied when registering.

The two Agritourism Entrepreneurship Business Education Tours will be held on June 13 departing from Donahue and July 25 departing from Missouri Valley. Tour details and registration links are available online (

Donahue, Iowa: Agritourism Business Education Tour

Tuesday, June 13 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. $10 Fee. Registration deadline is May 23
Registration Link:

Cinnamon Ridge Farms with John and Joan Maxwell
Learn how these robotic dairy farm owners engage audiences about modern agriculture with farm tours, day camps and special events; and how they promote Iowa agriculture to the world by building community relationships and corporate connections, such as John Deere and Viking River Cruises. Enjoy a delicious farm-produced lunch, view an innovative way to sell farm produce, and gain understanding of why this award-winning agritourism farm receives five-star visitor reviews.

Miss Effie’s Country Flowers with Cathy Lafrenz
Stroll through Iowa’s first you-pick flower farm to discover a simplicity of the past, framed by flowers and fantasy. Picture yourself among the blossoms and visualize how you might use your own farm for photo session revenue. Learn how to incorporate classes into your business plan to generate income beyond your growing season. Each participant will receive a fresh flower bouquet as a reminder of the ideas gathered today.

Iowa’s Loess Hills Agritourism Business Education Tour
Tuesday, July 25. 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. $10 Fee. Registration deadline is July 5.
Registration Link: .  

Grain Bin Getaway with Brent and Christy Nie
Have you thought about renting your farm or rural property for overnight stays? Hear how Loess Hills property owners became top-rated Airbnb Superhosts after they repurposed an old grain bin into a tiny house and public response exceeded their expectations. Take a rare peek inside this beautifully designed country getaway, and learn about navigating the world of short-term rentals from creative and business-savvy entrepreneurs.

Sawmill Hollow with Vaughn and Cindy Pittz
Aronia berries are often called a superfruit because of their high antioxidant activity. Sawmill Hollow Farm was a pioneer in cultivating this native berry for food production and developing a product line from the deep purple fruit. Tour participants will be treated to a farm-to-table aronia berry lunch in a beautiful Loess Hills setting while learning about this alternative crop, and how this family utilizes it for agritourism. The meal and farm visit will end with a Q&A session and aronia berry wine tasting

Loess Hills Lavender Farm with Tracy Porter and Mary Hamer
Lavender is used for floral arrangements, hand creams, air fresheners, and essential oils. Participants in this tour will have a chance to eat it! Our hosts will provide lavender lemonade and lavender blossom cookies as they share how this agritourism farm began, how it overcame hurdles, and how the expanded farm operates today. Participants may also explore the farm’s lavender plants and products as they hear the owner’s vision for the future.

This program is sponsored by IEDA/Travel Iowa and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. For more information about these Agritourism Entrepreneurship Business Education Tours, contact ISU Extension State Tourism Specialist Diane Van Wyngarden at

Agritourism Tours registration QR code.