The strategy will help farmers diversify their businesses and the local economy
By Diego Flammini
A Southern Ontario community is moving forward with efforts to improve agritourism.
The Town of Essex adopted the new Agritourism Development Strategy at its April 19 meeting.
The strategy prioritizes short and medium-term actions over the next few years for agritourism development.
“The region is really growing in terms of agritourism,” Nelson Silveira, economic development officer with the Town of Essex, told Farms.com. “The town is home to nine wineries with a tenth on the way. We want to help farm operators take advantage of this growing industry and help them diversify their operations to include agritourism.”
The strategy includes short- (1-2 years) and long-term (2+ years) action items.
The Town is working on short-term pieces now in partnership with the Culinary Tourism Alliance.
This includes creating content farm operators can use to showcase their agritourism efforts.
“We want to arm them with the digital content they need to beef up their online presence,” Silveira said. “We’ve hired a professional photographer, so producers can have a photographer come out to the farm to capture photos and videos. We want to make that connection between the consumer and producer.”
Developing more of an online presence will also be part of a series of online workshops producers can participate in.
In addition, the CTA and Town of Essex are communicating with producers through a survey about if and how they want to engage in agritourism.
“We want to gauge if farmers are already involved in agritourism or if they’re thinking about agritourism,” Silveira said. “We want to find out what supports they need from us to improve their experience or what parts of their business do they need assistance with.”
The second workshop is still in development.
Producers have until the end of next week to complete the Town’s agritourism survey.
Once the data has been collected and analyzed, officials will create a workshop based on the information received.
“We’ll create the workshop based on where (respondents) feel they need support or understanding about rules and regulations, or experience development,” Silveira said.