What is Agritourism?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

It is pistachio harvest season in Southern New Mexico. It is the perfect time to visit Eagle Ranch where Heart of the Desert pistachios are grown, harvested, packaged, marketed, and sold. Heart of the Desert is a great example of agritourism, as the farm tours provide a place to learn about where pistachios come from and how they are processed and sold. The tours and tastings are complimentary, with the hope that visitors will be encouraged to buy pistachios, wine, snacks and other New Mexico products from the shop.

What is Agritourism?

Agritourism in its most basic sense is the integration of tourism and agriculture. It is defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production or processing with tourism to attract visitors, with several financial, educational, and social benefits for tourists, producers, and communities.

Examples can include markets onsite at a farm, bouquet making classes at a flower farm, apple and cherry pickings, wine tastings at a vineyard, animal farm parks, glamping on a private countryside, and so much more.

Why is Agritourism on the rise?

The way people travel is evolving as explorers seek memorable, immersive experiences where they have an opportunity to learn. Parents want to teach their kids where food comes from, beyond the grocery store or McDonalds. Travelers are stepping off the beaten track and treading new paths, embracing local cultures, food, flora, and fauna. There is nothing better than taking a cooking class at a Bed & Breakfast located on a 200-year-old vineyard and olive grove in Italy lead by the family matriarch, especially when the meal is accompanied by wine produced onsite. Or arriving onsite during grape harvest and helping to pick grapes!

Agritourism caters to the rising demand for valuable experiences, by offering insight into often otherwise unseen industries. In doing so, it can also become a key contributor to the local tourism economy, attracting a higher volume of visitors and increasing the length of their stay.

Who benefits?

Everyone benefits from agritourism, travelers to small agricultural businesses and in some cases even the planet.

Agritourism offers guests new insights and experiences that in most instances, strengthens their connection with the environment. Whether its cut-flower gardens offering bouquet workshops, dairy farms inviting guests to milk cows, pistachio ranches offering tours of their facilities with tastings or idyllic land being converted to campgrounds, it’s a great way to fuse travel experiences for guests with agricultural benefits for the business and the community.

Why is it important?

Agritourism is important because it provides an additional stream of revenue for the continued success of small farms and producers. They are competing in a global market space and face competition from large industrial operations, that are often able to produce more at less cost, aided by extensive machinery and modern technology.

A dairy farm might decide to make site tours available to schools, at a small subsidy, giving children the chance to see milk coming from a cow’s udders and apply classroom learning though interactive experiences. Alternatively, it might be a complementary enterprise to go along with wholesale purchases, such as cheese making workshops or pick-your-own-fruit days.

Some farmers have found the latter to be so successful that tourism has become their primary source of revenue. With staycations becoming so popular, unused portions of land are a great source of revenue for huts, yurts, pods, or campers to enjoy the great outdoors.

So, when you are ready to travel again, consider adding an agritourism component. It will be a memorable, unique experience for you and your family. It will also truly make a difference to a small business and community.

Happy Traveling!

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.