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    Success in Agritourism | Fall 2013 Out Here Magazine

    More success stories in the area of agritourism

    Out Here

    By Carol Davis

     

    Agritourism provides the financial boost that families such as the Britts need to be able to keep working their farm. Many agricultural families are turning to different forms of agritourism to do the same — offering hunting, u-pick fruits and vegetables, trail rides, farm stays, and much more.

    These three success stories illustrate the possibilities:

    Johnson's Orchards / Peaks of Otter Wineries — Bedford, Va.

    When a harsh winter threatened apple production in the early 1980s, Johnson's Orchards in Bedford, Va., opened up to school groups and other guests for pick-your-own apple activities. Seeing additional potential for inviting tourists to their farm, the Johnson family refurbished and opened the original farmhouse for overnight guests, according to the Virginia Extension Service.

    Now, in addition to apple production, Johnson's Orchards offers visitors lodging, the Peaks of Otter Winery, and pick-your-own apples.

    Flying W Guest Ranch — Sayre, Okla.

    Oklahoma rancher Don Whinery's decision to turn his working ranch into a guest ranch began as a quest for "survival," he told the Oklahoma State University Extension Service. "I felt a beautiful ranch had something to offer people who wanted to enjoy the West."

    So he sold a portion of his spread to develop the 2,000-acre Flying W Guest Ranch, where visitors can explore a frontier town, with its blacksmith shop, church, town hall, jail, and café; take trail rides and buckboard rides; attend rodeos; and experience an authentic archaeological dig — the largest buffalo kill site in the Southern Plains, containing the remains of about 800 bison.

    Sunflower Farm — Rutledge, Ga.

    Sunflower Farm, which has been home to generations of the West family for 75 years, began as a cotton and hog farming operation. In the 1980s, the farm began raising sunflowers to provide seed for a bird feed manufacturer. The Wests expanded sunflower production in 2000 to attract doves to the area for an annual hunt.

    People started showing up wanting to cut flowers and take their pictures in the sunflower field, according to the farm's website, so Sunflower Farm set up a cut-your-own station where people could buy flowers on the honor system.

    So many people came the first season they decided to have the first Sunflower Farm Festival the next year. It's grown into a much-anticipated community and regional event with attendance nearing 10,000.

     

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