Creating a successful agritourism venue takes planning. But the preparation that goes into your agritourism project can enhance other areas of your operation, as well. Here's the essential items that you need for a successful agritourism project.
- Attractive Road Signage
|Joybilee Farm Road Signage|
- Hand Washing Stations
At Joybilee Farm we have a stainless steel barbecue sink set up as a hand wash station -- purchased at Canadian Tire for $200. You can build one for less using a recycled sink, faucet and lumber. We set ours up near the studio during our open season and store it under cover in our off season. It has a tap for cold water and is fed with a garden hose. There is a bucket underneath to catch the flow. We plan to set it up in a small shelter eventually, so that the paper towel rack can hang above the sink and a garbage can can be under cover beside it. Then we'll dig a sand pit and feed the outflow into a pipe in the ground to the sand pit.
- Public Toilet
We rented a plastic porta-potty for an event, but found that people didn't want to use it. So we built an outhouse, aka. compost toilet. The outhouse is a real hit with city folks. Its a wooden structure, with an 8 foot deep pit, and a wooden seat. It still needs a coat of linseed oil. Lots of visitors use it. Its an adventure. We've even had photo ops at the outhouse.
It is equipped with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and an ash bucket to keep it fresh smelling. We check it after visitors and clean it once a week.
- Regular Open Hours
Joybilee Farm is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. If I have to make a trip to town during those hours, someone stays at the farm to greet any visitors that drive in. On the rare occasion that we have to be closed when we say we are open -- we post the change in hours on our website, Facebook and on the blog -- and call the Tourist Info Centre in town and let them know.
- A Welcome Attitude
Keep your dogs under control. Lots of people are frightened by large, barking dogs. Keep yours leashed when you expect visitors or behind a fence. Or train them not to bark at visitors. (we're still working on this one.)
When you get farm visitors, ask if they'd like a farm tour. Charge for the farm tour -- its taking you away from other work. Invite them to visit the farm store or studio and talk about what you have to offer -- farm fresh eggs, freezer cuts of lamb, yarns, gifts etc. Ask where they are from, and what made them stop. Carry on the conversation and focus on the needs of the visitors.This is how relationships are built. Our goal at Joybilee Farm is long term, happy relationships --- not necessarily immediate sales. Happy relationships result in sales over the long haul.
Part of the attitude is calling farm visitors - "visitors" instead of "customers". A visitor is a friend who might be stopping in for coffee or a stranger who needs introduction before he becomes a friend. A customer is someone with money who needs to make a purchase to be valued. Value your visitors.
- Liability Insurance
- First Aid Certificate
Our liability insurance requires someone with a valid first aid certificate to be on the premises at all times when we are open to the public.
- A driveway alarm
It gives us time to prepare for visitors, grabbed the dogs so they don't frighten vistors, comb hair, brush teeth, or maybe get dressed, and even turn some lights on in the studio. The scene that ensues when that first driveway alarm goes off in the morning would make a viral you-tube video.
The added advantage is the alarms work 24 x7. We've been woken after midnight by strange trucks driving in but the alarms let us know to expect visitors and we were prepared.
- Beautification Plan
Goats are cute, and a goat climbing station gets people talking. Plant some flowers, or put signage pointing out native plants. Clean up the burn piles or move them away from visitor areas. Get rid of hazards and move junk piles away from visitor areas. Visit the dump with a few truck loads and clean up broken plastics and discarded housewares. Plant flowers, weed the garden, repair broken gates -- did I mention its ongoing.
Think of it as an investment. Beautiful farms invite visitors and get comments. And if you don't have time to beautify then emphasize the unusual -- Put up signage pointing out native plants and their value to the landscape. "Golden rod. Native to Canada. Has a golden yellow dye in the flowers."
A few minutes planning for your successful agritourism project can make your farm an attraction that visitors talk about for months after their initial visit. And it can bring them back again, with friends.
This is part 2 of a 5 part series on "Diversifying with Agritourism".
Part 1, "6 compelling reasons to diversify with agritourism".
Part 3, "Agritourism strategies that won't break the bank"
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.