Today, the economic existence of many family farms is being threatened by the modern global agricultural economy. To offset the lose of traditional farm income, many farms are taking advantage of their unique nostalgic, rural, family and outdoor appeal by developing destination attractions as additional, and often sole sources of income. A farm destination for consumers is typically referred to as "agritainment" (agriculture plus entertainment) or agritourism. These options range from such strategies as u-pick or pick-your-own, petting zoos, hay rides, children's play areas and children's discovery farms to destination mazes, pumpkin patches, seasonal and fall festivals, Halloween attractions, haunted attractions, school field trips and farm markets and restaurants.
Offering farm experiences positions farms at the 4th level of economic value.
With an increasing consumer interest in locally sourced and health, direct market farms have increased their appeal with sustainable practices. Often, there is opportunity to expand a direct market farm’s destination appeal beyond just the sale of food products by offering education tours, special events and agritainment activities. For example, combining a goat creamery and some entertainment-type attractions would become goat-tainment.
One of the most successful independent entertainment destinations in the United States, Knott's Berry Farm, started as a traditional u-pick berry farm.
The White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group has extensive experience in the feasibility and design of all types of family and children's leisure and entertainment destinations including agritainment and agritourism. Many types of both commercial entertainment, leisure, retail and dining facilities can be successfully adapted to become second, and sometimes the most significant, source of income for farms. We have worked with dozens of farms throughout the country since 1994 to develop and design successful agritainment businesses or grow existing ones, as we understand the unique market, financial and management considerations of agritainment/agritourism businesses.
We really enjoy our agritainment feasibility, design and consulting work. We learn a lot from the farmers we work with that can be applied to our other projects (talk about being resourceful with the dollar, just work with a farmer). Most of all, we enjoy seeing them succeed at a whole new business venture that moves them into the experience economy while still retaining their roots of farming and helps them preserve their multi-generational family properties.
Also see our article: Defining Agritainment as the 4th Level of Economc Value
Randy White's February 4, 2014 presentation to the North American Farmer's Direct Market Association's Conference in Kansas City. Click here to download presentation as a PDF file.