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Va. Agritourism Conference has horticulturist information

By JANE W. GRAHAM
AFP Correspondent

RICHMOND, Va. (April 11, 2017) — Members of the Virginia horticulture industry will find a lot of information that will help them in their agritourism endeavors during the 2017 Virginia Agritourism Conference on April 18-20.
The theme of the conference at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa/Short Pump is “Agritourism is Virginia’s New Economy.”
“Every session is bursting with engaging speakers and tools for Virginia’s agritourism industry” said Martha Walker, community viability specialist for Extension. “Our state planning team has secured an outstanding lineup of experts to share their knowledge. Anyone working with agritourism will want to be in Richmond for this conference.”
This conference will be a fun and engaging experience that is an excellent investment of time and funds.
Walker pointed out that agritourism which brings together two of Virginia’s top industries, agriculture and tourism attracts the public to the farm to enjoy a genuine farm agricultural experience.
Farms involved in horticulture are a natural fit for adding agritourism to their operations she noted.
She said fruit growers can tap into the very popular “pick your own” trend, where customers walk into the fields and harvest their own produce.
“This experience becomes a value-added option for the farmer and a fun and unique memory for the customer,” said Ashley Nauta, District Extension Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources working with agricultural marketing and agritourism.
The conference offers three days of intense related topics and activities for the participants.
The first day they will explore multiple agritourism tools including social media, event planning, labor regulations, legal issues, financial resources, marketing strategies and agritourist’s best practices, Walker reported. The second day of the conference will be a chance for three farms to showcase their agritourism successes and challenges and share them with the conference attendees.
Some of the featured farms include Hanover Vegetable Farm, Ashland Berry Farm, James River Cellars Winery, Keenbell Farm, Lickinghole Creek Farm Brewery, Shalom Farms, Lonesome Dove Equestrian Center, Skippers Creek Vineyard and Boulevard Flowers.
On the third day Jon Schallert, an internationally recognized speaker and business expert will lead the group.
He has taught all types of businesses and communities how to turn themselves into highly desired consumer destinations, she continued. His aim at the conference will be do this for Virginia farmers wanting follow this path.
Pumpkin and Christmas tree growers take advantage of agritourism activities by including additional seasonal and holiday themed events and activities such as hay rides and corn mazes in the fall, and sleigh rides and snowman building in the winter.
This conference will cover a wide variety of educational topics that are of interest to current agritourism operations, and especially to those considering entering this market.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to network with professionals and other farm owners working in this segment of the industry.
Questions may be directed to Dr. Martha A. Walker, Cooperative Extension, by phone at 434-766-6761 or by e-mail at walker This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .