Zipline use growing as a way to lure agritourism

Associate Editor

FREDERICK, Md. (Aug. 30, 2016) — When Summers Farm, an agritourism and grain operation, opens to the public next month, it’ll have a new attraction in addition to the panoply of kid-friendly activities: A zipline … kind of.
It’s not high above the ground. It doesn’t send petrified kids flying above a football field’s stretch of treeline at warp speed. It’s a few short feet above the ground, and it’s called “The Flying Pigs.”
It allows four people to glide over the ground together, and it looks, at least from a Facebook video the farm posted recently, like a reasonably good time for an adult or child.
“The idea is that parents take part in the activity with their kids,” said Teresa Summers Greenwood, the farm’s co-owner.
Summers Farm is one of number of Maryland agritourism operations that have installed ziplines or zipline-like attractions for farmgoers recently.
It’s an increasingly popular way for an agritourism operation to diversify their offerings, said Charlie Touchette, executive director of the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association in Massachusetts.
“I think, in context, the whole emergence of ziplines whether they be on farms or not is something that we’ve seen come forward and it certainly, for some farms, has provided a diversification in the enterprises,” he said.
Taylor Huffman, the agritourism representative on the Maryland Agricultural Commission, said her family’s farm in Thurmont is also adding a zipline for children similar to what’sbeing offered at Summers Farm.
When asked what motivated her to invest more than $4,000 to build the attraction, she said, “To be honest, to keep up with the rest of the farms in the area.”
Huffman said she’s noticed an increasing number of customers with children note the differences between what’s available at competing agritourism operations.
The zipline will require an extra employee to monitor riders, she said.
“Nowadays, you have to do so much more to draw a crowd,” she said.
Most ziplines in Maryland are at outdoor adventure venues, some of which have “farm” in the name even though they appear to host no actual agricultural activities.
But they could increasingly be seen at agritourism attractions as well — even if they’re just a few feet from the ground, Greenwood said.
“We have lots of young families,” she said. “We thought it’d be a safe, fun activity.”