Farmers around the country are coming up with unique ways to make money and keep their farms thriving. They are resorting to agritourism.
“Our primary income is from agritourism, not from farming and ranching,” says Dori Dejong, who is part owner of the Platte River Fort Farm.
Although her land is ideal for farming, she explains it would be difficult to sustain the property on ranching alone.
“We would probably only make $10,000 to $20,000 a year is my guess,” Dejong says.
To make more money, they decided to offer a rusting stay for visitors inside a yurt, tent or even have a place to get married. They plan on making anywhere from $500,000 to $750,000 next year because of their new agritourism business model.
Agritourism has become a way for farmers to keep their land. Professor Dawn Thilmany teaches a course on it, educating students on lodging management, culinary tourism, destination development and ways to make your business different than others.
“We see it being anywhere from having a pick-your-own orchard or field on your farm to hosting events like farm dinners or preserving classes to dude ranches where people want to get away for a whole week or two,” Thilmany says.
Not everyone is looking for an expansion as big as Dori Dejong.
“Over the years we learned that our customers want a place to enjoy and experience farming,” says Amy Kafka with Garden Sweet.
Kafka offers date nights and yoga classes on her flower farm and fruit farm.
“The combination of all the events and things that we do bring in more people,” Kafka says.
If you want to grow what matters, Dejong says “find your passion not something that’s going to make money.”