October 11, 2021 at 6:58 p.m.
Know a farmer
Having hosted dairy farm tours for nearly 25 years, I have educated many people about dairy farming, and showing cows, calves and other farm animals. These tours provide hands-on experiences to get people involved in knowing where dairy products come from. By charging admission for the tours, it also financially helps our farm.
I know not everyone wants to host farm tours, but there are many other opportunities for your farm to participate in ag-tourism.
I have experienced amazing ag-tourism activities in Wisconsin. The season starts in early spring with maple syrup. Witnessing the bubbling sap in the sugar shack and remembering the aroma brings back wonderful memories. The process is long, and visitors appreciate being able to learn and purchase real maple syrup from the farmers directly.
Hunting for morels mushrooms is also a springtime activity. If you have a woods where these mushrooms grow, you could harvest these to be sold or invite others to enjoy a beautiful hike in your woods. Invite families to camp, hike and bike trails where they can take in the wildlife and nature. Hunting and fishing leases, or even planned hunts for pheasants, turkeys and deer are also becoming more common. The opportunities to be able to do these types of activities is only limited by hunting seasons. During the pandemic, more people have taken up fishing and hunting to use their free time outdoors and be more physically active.
In autumn, there are events to pick your own flowers, pumpkins and apples. These activities are big draws for weekenders that are out for a drive, families that want to enjoy the farm fresh air, and groups of friends who want to spend time together. Before long, it will be time to cut your own Christmas tree. These folks are in for the experience. They are interested and want to learn about the agricultural products that are being grown and made for them. They are willing to pay to have fun.
Asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, fresh vegetables, eggs and sweet corn are some things I see our farming neighbors selling in their roadside stands. The handmade signs that advertise fresh sweet corn are up all summer, and the wagon has all the garden’s goodness ready to enjoy. Customers are looking for farm-raised chicken, pork, beef, lamb and other meats.
Homemade quilts and aprons, along with other crafted produced items, are all made with care; homemade breads and cookies baked in a farmhouse oven, “All made and packaged just for you.” This is where it becomes personal. The knowing about us makes the difference. It makes the trip out to the country worth the time, and the reward is knowing the farmer.
This farmer friendship is better than pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store; this is the local food movement. Buy local and help a local farmer. It is also ag-tourism.
Tina Hinchley, and her husband, Duane, daughter Anna, milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchley’s have been hosting farm tour for over 25 years.