Unique Niches: Agritourism in Britain and New England
Table of Contents
In March 1997 I left my positions as director of the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension offices in Marin and Sonoma counties for a 10-month sabbatical leave. While a portion of my time was spent taking training courses to upgrade my computer, Internet, and community facilitation skills, most of my time and energy was focused on investigating farm or agritourism. My purpose was to explore the possibilities for development of this type of farm venture in West Marin and Sonoma County. I met with and interviewed 16 local people active in agriculture, interested in agritourism or active in community development prior to my trip.
I focused on farm or agritourism in England and selected states on the east coast of the United States based on my research into activities in these areas. I hoped to visit areas that were similar to our farm communities in size, scope and attitude that had developed tourist ventures on farms that were profitable. My aim was to see how these activities might be transferred to our area and to expand my knowledge of this type of venture. The terms "farm tourism" and "agritourism" are used interchangeably, as preference for use is different geographically. In England, the term farm tourism is used; on the East Coast, agritourism is used. For consistency, I use the term agritourism throughout this report except where I describe the formal title of a group or project.
I met and interviewed 100 persons active in this area. While the majority were farm entrepreneurs, some were officials involved in the effort such as tourism agency staff, park officials, producer association representatives, farming union members, and extension staff involved in agritourism.
What I discovered was that engaging in agritourism might be considered by a minority of farmers and ranchers, perhaps 20 to 30 families in Marin and an equal number in Sonoma County. However, for those who do seek to supplement their farm incomes with this type of venture, it can be very rewarding. The farmers whom I perceived to be the most successful in their operations shared a set of important qualifications: an outgoing personality that enjoyed interacting with the public, a property that was attractive and organized, a product (activity based, object, or service) that people desired, and a customer base that was available and consistent.
The other most important ingredient for success was whether or not the farm entrepreneur had the support of the local community. Those who were most successful had an infrastructure that nurtured them. In England, this support came from the National Parks bolstered by European Community (EC) grant funds for farm assistance. Along the East Coast supporters included tourism district staff, local Cooperative Extension staff with tourism and small business development expertise, and local elected officials who were aware of tourism, especially in Vermont.
We have some of these ingredients here in the North Bay farms of Marin and Sonoma: bright, outgoing people, an accessible base of potential customers, good ideas and the work power to carry them forward. Plans for integrating what I learned include conducting direct marketing workshops on agritourism in Marin and Sonoma counties; and a grant proposal to the Marin Community Foundation and other sources to fund a multi-year agricultural diversification, marketing, and educational project. The project will tie together Agricultural Summit recommendations and lessons learned within the scope of this project.
A summary of recommendations is provided here for consideration. Detailed recommendations can be found in Section 6.
1. Complete the zoning revision process that will allow farm Bed and Breakfast (B&Bs) to exist within A60 zoning in Marin County. Also complete farm stand zoning revisions.
2. Organize and hold at least one direct marketing workshop including agritourism in West Marin; hold a second workshop of Sonoma County entrepreneurs.
3. Develop an agritourism marketing brochure and accompanying web site for a variety of organizations, producers and their products, accommodations, events, and places in Marin.
4. Encourage Point Reyes National Seashore staff to incorporate more farming information into educational aspects of their visitor services.
5. Ensure that agritourism is presented on the county wide tourism advisory committee and that more coordination is developed between all aspects of the tourism market in Marin.
6. Fund a multi-year farming diversification project to continue efforts begun at Agriculture Summit in 1997
The primary purpose of my sabbatical study was to obtain agritourism information that may be applicable and useful to agriculture in West Marin. Two key questions provide the basis of the study: 1) what type of agritourism might best be transferred to our local setting? 2) what key variables and considerations must be in place in order for agritourism to become a viable choice for interested farmers and ranchers? A secondary purpose was to gather information for developing California materials for Cooperative Extension and other interested farm advisors.
Farmers are looking for alternative approaches to maintaining profitable agricultural enterprises and are considering agriculture and nature based tourism activities. Agricultural tourism, or agritourism, is defined as "a business conducted by a farm operator for the enjoyment and education of the public, to promote the products for the farm, and thereby generate additional farm income" (Beall, 1996). There may exist an economic opportunity for West Marin farms and ranches (and areas in Sonoma County) to increase farm profits by developing several agritourism operations in addition to their current operations.
I focused on agritourism in England and selected states on the east coast of the United States based on my reading and research into activities in these areas. I visited areas there that were similar to our farm communities in size, scope and attitude which had also developed profitable tourist ventures on farms. My aim was to see how these activities might be replicated in our area and to expand my knowledge of this type of venture.
A colleague at Cornell University was completing a doctorate on the English parks model and knew several key managers in England. I wrote to them asking for assistance in organizing my visit. Based on their feedback and suggestions I narrowed my focus to three areas of England near national parks that were similar to West Marin. My criteria for selection included distance to large metropolitan areas, number of visitors to area, size and type of agriculture, rural setting with small villages, and of course, the local people and their willingness to host me.
I met Norm Bender, an Economic Development Specialist with the University of Connecticut during an Agriculture in the Environment Conference in Boston in 1995. In his presentation he described a survey he had conducted to assess farm interest and current activities in agritourism and subsequent grant-funded development of agritourism opportunities in 26 counties in Eastern Connecticut. He put me in touch with Bob Townsend, an Extension Specialist in Community Development in Vermont working in this area, and Diane Kuehn at New York State University at Oswego. With their assistance I organized a fall tour of agritourism ventures in Connecticut, Vermont, and upstate New York.
I began with a literature search to identify suitable locations in both locales and spoke with colleagues and others knowledgeable in the subject. Art Mills, formerly with the Marin Community Foundation, referred me to a contact at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The foundation had sponsored an exploratory tour to several of the national parks in England looking at voluntary private recreational opportunities with landowners for public access. While this was not my focus, their trip report indicated that there was quite an active agritourism program in and around the parks.
I developed a questionnaire that I used for all my interviews. I used these questions and general format while interviewing 16 local farmers, ranchers and officials prior to my leave in 1997 and for the 54 persons I interviewed in Britain and the 30 persons in Connecticut, Vermont, and New York. The focus of the questions changed depending on whether the person was in business or just considering. I organized the interview responses in this report by question asked except where case studies are highlighted. Interview summaries are provided rather than individual interviews. More detailed copies of interviews are available by request.
I conducted my interviews in person. I also photographed various agritourism activities, shot 20 rolls of film and was given a mountain of materials to take back. My report is a distillation of all this information.
The majority of my time was spent in England, so most of my references are to English farms. However, I did visit and interview farmers in Wales and Scotland, part of Britain and in the Republic of Ireland. Abbreviations used repeatedly are listed for the readers convenience in Appendix G.
My style for collecting information varied. I usually stayed 7-12 days in each study area except when traveling from place to place. The greater the familiarity with a given area, the more information I found I could glean. Each park had set up a long itinerary of places and farms for me to visit. After arriving at a location I called several farms in the area to schedule my visits. I did not use a tape recorder as I thought it would be too formal and intrusive. Each interview lasted about one hour; sometimes they went on for half the day if the farmer was enthusiastic. We generally walked the farm and toured the agritourism venture if feasible.
I brought a small photo booklet describing the West Marin area in pictures that I used to introduce the topic as well as a copy of the Sonoma County Farm Trails map and the Select Sonoma County magazine. I also brought a small map of the Bay Area showing West Marin's proximity to it as well as a brochure of the Point Reyes National Seashore. I carried black and white photo notecards of Marin agriculture that the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) sells and theme bandanna which I gave to people who had spent time assisting me. They were surprised at how similar our area looked to theirs and how rural it was. Note: most foreigner's stereotypes of California include Baywatch, Southern California beaches, and Disneyland.
I tried to meet with farmers who were well connected in the community and highly regarded. Usually they were the local committee contact for the National Farmers Union or the Countryside Landowners Association. Some of my best experiences were completely unplanned such as meeting the top dairy producer in the Peak District area at the Monday cattle market in Bakewell or participating in the drive and shearing of 300 sheep on the Flower's farm in Alstonefield. Many of these opportunities simply occurred because I had decided to stay exclusively on farms.
My free time was spent walking through the countryside which led to more farmer contacts and great experiences since the "countryside" is composed of farms which are accessible to the public along a 35,000 mile system of paths and bridleways.
My husband, Patrick Laherty, accompanied me and was a great asset. He was especially adept as cook, driver and computer support. Many small farms are using computers either for their businesses and/or children and in some cases Patrick's expertise and willingness to help was our invitation back for dinner.
On the East Coast
I followed a similar protocol during this portion of my investigations. In the three weeks I was gone I traveled 2,300 miles, shot six rolls of film and interviewed 30 individuals active in the agritourism market in Connecticut, Vermont and upstate New York. Most were farm operators but several were Extension or Sea Grant agents with expertise and experience in agritourism. I spent approximately five days in each state and each of my state hosts had arranged well developed itineraries.
In Connecticut, Norm Bender had a chance to revisit several farm operations that he had surveyed in 1995; in Vermont I participated in Bob Townsend's Farm Tourism workshop held at the Sheep and Wool festival in Killington and in New York, Duncan Hilchey of Comell's
Farming Alternatives Program let me "paw" through his extensive files on agritourism for several hours.
I returned with a suitcase of materials that will be useful in planning workshops and for sharing with interested workshop participants.
Was my primary objective met? Yes and more! I certainly learned a great deal about alternative income ventures on farms as they relate to tourism. But just as important I was vividly reminded of the importance of "pride in place". Time and time again, communities I visited were concerned about the importance of maintaining their livelihoods and their farms. Declining economic conditions and the transition of the land to their children increased their interest in alternative enterprises.
Agritourism is by no means a panacea for all farms looking for additional income. In fact, it may only be an option for a handful of farm families, and it supplements the farm income but does not replace it. Because agriculture and tourism are two of the most visible activities presently occurring in West Marin, I believe there is a natural fit and window of opportunity for those interested. A recent paper on the effects of tourism on agriculture in Hawaii shows positive effects as agricultural products have diversified and agritourism based attractions supported local communities with revenues and employment (Cox, 1994).
One of the biggest differences I noted between England and the U.S. is the level of awareness by public officials of how important farms and farmers are to the maintenance of the beloved landscape. In England, it went beyond elected officials' rhetoric to the daily planning and oversight functions of government staff. This is partially due to the fact that England has few publicly owned parks and so depends on farmers to maintain areas designated as national parks. England's financial assistance program makes it more palatable for farmers to respond to the restrictions placed on them for being part of that park.
The products of my study are this report and a slide presentation on my research. I have prepared several versions of the slide show for different audiences. One is for interested landowners and the other for planners and public officials. If there is sufficient interest I will organize a local workshop on the potential for agritourism in the area.
I am preparing specific articles for publication in the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Technical Review, the MALT newsletter, the Select Sonoma County newsletter, the Farm Bureau Sonoma/Marin Farm News and other venues.
None of this was possible without the support of my hosts in England and on the East Coast. I am also indebted to Linda Garcia, who did my two jobs in Marin and Sonoma while continuing to do her own. Grateful thanks also to the office staff, volunteers and advisors who covered for me; to my employer and supervisor, the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Nicki King; and the Boards of Supervisors in Marin and Sonoma Counties. My time abroad was immensely stimulating and informative. I gained valuable experience and information and am returning a very renewed and invigorated employee.
Ranchers in West Marin and along coastal Sonoma County face challenges as they work to produce animal and plant products, earn a living, and maintain farmlands for present and future generations. These challenges result from the changing nature of commercial agriculture, economic downtrends in the dairy and beef industries, the high cost of land, limitations of natural resources, urbanization of the area, and a continuing need for farmers to identify new sources of income. Ranchers also face strong economic pressures to consider selling land for development. Even in cases where development rights have been sold, landowners may have difficulty keeping their lands in active agriculture.
Since the February, 1996 agriculture diversification workshop sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension and co-sponsored by various agriculture support groups, interest has been growing in exploring a variety of paths to diversifying both the type of agricultural products Marin provides and the manner in which they are produced.
At the Marin Agriculture Summit held in February 1997 participants indicated that the highest priorities for action include: preservation of farmland, a regional marketing strategy that promotes Marin County farms and products, and enhancement of sustainable and environmentally sound farming practices. Included in this was interest in agritourism and a regional marketing approach similar to Select Sonoma County or other regional programs active in Northern California.
An indicator of recent success in this area includes the opening of the Tomales Bay Food Company in Point Reyes Station, a retail store selling mostly regional food products. As owner Sue Conley wisely puts it, "we're hoping to feature the products of the region, so we'll use beef from Niman Schell, olive oil from Nan McEvoy's ranch and milk from Straus dairy to make cheese on-site...and tourists and people walking through this building can make the connection ... that there's agriculture right here so we have a balance in our local economy...if there are farmers here who are interested in looking at bringing a product to market, I would be glad to try it in our place."
Marin agriculture, valued at $47 million annually, has been primarily an animal based industry with approximately 45 dairies and 110 beef/sheep operations countywide. In the past ten years, a growing shellfish industry has developed in the waters of Tomales Bay, and nearby estuaries, some within and adjacent to the Point Reyes National Seashore. This park is the only national park in the nation that allows dairying within its boundaries. It leases the land to former owners who were bought out when the park was established in 1974.
Organic and market produce operations are growing. Community supported agriculture (CSA), garden produce operators who market directly to Marin families, have grown from one to five operations in the past year and currently provide weekly food baskets to 277 families. Increased competition, cost restrictions, uncontrolled predators, and rising operating expenses all strain the dairy, beef and sheep industries. This economic forecast is exacerbated by the fact that most of the agricultural land is in large (500 acre) parcel sizes with 3rd and 4th generation family ownership. It is difficult to start up a new operation for those without access to land, and for landowners, it is difficult to switch to another livelihood.
Water is a limiting factor in some areas. Most ranches have reservoirs and developed springs for animals, and there are restrictions on drawing summer water from local creeks. While Marin has some flat areas with deep alluvial soils for growing vegetables, much of Marin is a hilly peninsula with steep hills and ridges. There is an ongoing effort to assist farmers and ranchers to diversify their operations including leasing land or partnering with start up produce operations.
MALT, a nonprofit organization, has been buying development rights or conservation easements since its inception in 1980 with public supported funds. MALT now holds easements on 35 ranches totaling 26,000 acres. According to the Farmland Press Report (Bowers, 1996), both Marin and Sonoma County continue to place in the top five counties nationally for agricultural preservation or purchase of development rights. Aspects of the regulations governing agriculture in A-60 zoning are currently under revision in Marin County and may make it easier to diversify operations with ventures such as roadside stands and farm B&B Inns. Note: A-60 zoning designation in agricultural areas allows one building right per 60 acres.
In 1994, the county supervisor representing West Marin, proposed the purchase of development rights on 38,000 acres of private lands on the east side of Tomales Bay north to Bodega Bay. Sponsored by local Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, the federal bill ( H. R. 1995) is titled "Point Reyes National Seashore Farmland Protection Act." The bill is an attempt to obtain funds to purchase more development rights since MALT funds are almost depleted and there is a waiting list of willing landowners. However, the bill has had mixed reviews and has not obtained full support of landowners who live within the proposed boundary. Regardless of the outcome of the bill, local agriculturists need a diversity of options to choose from if they are to remain sustainable into the 21st century.
Characteristics of Tourism in California
Tourism is the largest industry in the world and is growing. Annually, there are 2.2 billion tourists spending money in the areas they visit.
Visitors to California spent $57.8 billion in 1996 on accommodations, food, attractions and shopping. The following list of statistics indicates how important tourism is to California and may provide marketing insight and focus to "on farm" tourist based ventures (California Trade and Commerce Agency, 1995):
Travel and tourism provided employment to 658,000 Californians, generated $2.1 billion in state tax receipts, and $1 billion to local jurisdictions.
- California is the most visited state in America;
- More international travelers visit California than any other state;
- $6 billion is spent in California by international travelers;
- Californians comprise 83% of domestic travel within the state;
- Travel volume was largest in July, August and December in California;
- The San Francisco Bay Area (57 million) and the Los Angeles/Anaheim Area (94 million) accounted for 54% of domestic travel to California.
Non-resident travelers to California spend more, on the average, per person per day than do resident and U.S. travelers in general. Because non-resident travelers are more likely to come from greater distances and stay for longer periods of time, they therefore spend relatively more on necessities such as transportation, room and food. The average daily expenditures of non resident leisure travelers was $105 per person per day as compared to California resident leisure travelers at $71 and U.S. leisure travelers at $78. Non-resident travelers to California spend a greater percentage of all travel expenditures on transportation while resident travelers spent more in areas of food, shopping, entertainment and rooms.
Non-resident travelers take longer trips (4-5 days) and stay in paid accommodations. (versus camping) while resident travelers were more likely to travel for getaway weekends and go hiking and/or biking (t5%). The majority of leisure travelers to California (41 %) and US leisure travelers are between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. Twenty five percent of leisure travelers to California were 50 years and older. While most non-resident travel peaked in the summer months, the resident travel was well distributed seasonally (California Trade and Commerce Agency, 1996).
Tourism in the North Bay
In 1997, more than $454 million was spent by tourists on accommodations in Marin. Tourist dollars spent in Marin increased by $ 1 00 million between 1991 and 1994 and a similar trend occurred in Sonoma County. Over 4.5 million visitors are reported annually at the Point Reyes National Seashore (2.5 million) and state parks (2 million) in Marin. The Olema Campground reported I million visitor days in 1996 and it has been calculated that over 41% of the 16 million annual visitors to San Francisco travel over the Golden Gate Bridge into and through Marin County (B. Blum, personal communication, 8/ 21/97). It is estimated that during winter whale watching season over 6,000 travelers visit the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
Marin's transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues reflect growth in the West Marin area. Unincorporated TOT receipts increased from $679,827 in 1991 to $1,168,968 in 1997, nearly doubling in six years. With a flat tax rate, some increases could be attributed to increased accommodation rates and number of accommodations, both which reflect a growth market. Half the tourism income comes from overnighting so marketing focus should be on keeping visitors here for longer periods.
In 1994, more than 4.1 million people visited Sonoma County and spent $819 million; 83% for pleasure and recreation. They spent an average of $150 daily and 45% traveled with children. The Sonoma County Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCCVB) and its sister organizations in Sonoma Valley and the Russian River area are focusing their primary TOT advertising efforts on California travelers and secondly, on Bay Area travelers, their two largest visitor clusters (Lauer, 1997). SCCVB's Destination Sonoma County committee is working to increase Monday through Thursday lodging requests.
In July, 1997 an informal survey of overnight accommodations was conducted by the SCCVB committee. Sixty-eight properties representing a total of 2,680 rooms were surveyed. Thirty percent of their customers were from the Bay Area, 25% were from California, and approximately 29% were a mix of Bay Area and out of state staying an average of two days. Almost half of the visitors polled were here for pleasure and 30% were here for business. Approximately 40% of SCCVB's customers heard about them through guidebooks, 14% via the Internet and 10% via public relations booklets. The results mirror the state tourism statistics. According to former Sonoma County Farm Trails Executive Director Betsy Fischer (personal communication, 8/22/97) both the majority of requests for the Farm Trails Map and the number of visitors to the "Weekend along the Farm Trails" event in October are from the East Bay and San Francisco Bay Area.
Sonoma County zoning ordinances for agricultural districts are currently being revised to address food service, retail sales, and special events. The agricultural industry is diversifying as vintners and farmers search for new ways to promote their products and boost their incomes from tourism (Appel, 1997).
The Sonoma County Economic Vitality Partnership selected tourism and agriculture as two of the most important economic development sectors in the county and is working to coordinate these two efforts in a more unified manner with the development of an agricultural marketer's clearinghouse.
Besides its natural scenic beauty, the single largest tourist draw in West Marin is Point Reyes National Seashore and the 35,000 acres of pristine farmland along the east side of Tomales Bay. The number of annual day visitors is estimated to be 2.5 million to Point Reyes and 2 million to the local state parks.
In the first phase of a multi-season survey conducted by Sonoma State University for the Point Reyes National Seashore, Chief of Interpretation John Dell 'Osso, stated that "We wanted to learn more about the types of tourists who visit the seashore." Questions were asked including "why did you come?; how long will you stay here?; where will you overnight?" The results of this survey when completed, should provide the park and others interested in area tourism with helpful planning information.
There are 300 rooms available in Point Reyes Station while Mendocino has 1,300 and Carmel I 1,000 (The Point Reyes Light, 3/7/96). One savvy B&B proprietor felt that the Point Reyes market was saturated with new start ups and that for a "farm" experience to be successful it would need to be the focus and not the weekend getaway. Another B&B operator I spoke with felt the market along the Marin/Sonoma coast was not saturated and that there was "plenty of room for growth." This was especially true for the weekend market and all operators struggled with the midweek market. She added that you had to work to provide a mid week niche, which in one case was promoting business meetings for up to 100 people (N. Duffy, personal communication 8/97).
Outside of Point Reyes Station there are a few overnight accommodations available for the car or biking tourist traveling north along the coast. There are several B&B accommodations in Tomales and Valley Ford, but the Marconi Conference Center at Marshall does not service or market to overnighters as it is a meeting and conference facility, as is Walker Creek Ranch. According to new planning regulation standards, which are under final revision, A60 zoned property can house up to a 3 bedroom farm B&B without a use permit given that other septic and business requirements are provided for.
Working farms and ranches offer a unique niche that a typical B&B does not. Visitors could experience the farm ambiance and a myriad of farm activities including: animals, seasonal births, feeding, shearing, harvesting, milking, and cheesemaking.
Marin County already has one opportunity for members of the public to spend time at a historical dairy operation and participate in farm activities. Slide Ranch is a nonprofit environmental education center located on the West Marin coast in national park lands administered by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA). The homestead scale farm is based out of the buildings of the I 00 year old dairy, and hosts weekday programs for school classes or other organized groups, as well as weekend programs for families. Activities include milking the goats, feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, working in the vegetable and flower garden, spinning wool and other farm related tasks. Overnight programs are also available. All programs are by reservation only, and the public demand for these opportunities far exceeds the site capacity. Weekday programs are frequently fully booked as much as six months in advance. Because of the high value these programs offer to Bay Area residents, the GGNRA has approved Slide Ranch's master plan to construct new program buildings, doubling the facilities size. In light of the success of this operation, it is reasonable to expect that there is a significant demand for other farm tour or farmstay opportunities in Marin.
Marketing to specific use groups should be explored. An estimated 50 million Americans ride bikes and it has become a $3.5 billion a year industry. While no estimates exist on the numbers of bicyclists passing through coastal Marin, it is a popular destination for long distance riders and weekend riders. There are three cyclist clubs in the area: Santa Rosa Cycling Club, Marin Cyclists, and Marin Singles. They total approximately 1,300 members. Club web pages inform other California riders about the area. In speaking with the president and several members (C. Eber, B. Oetinger personal communication 9/22/ 97), they mentioned riders coming down from the Sacramento area and then overnighting in either campgrounds or local B&Bs.
Another niche that deserves mention is bird watching. Nature or eco-tourism is one of the biggest growth areas in the travel market and birders make up the majority of those travelers. Globally, birders spent $8 billion last year. The Point Reyes area is described as one of the premiere bird watching regions in the country by the National Audubon Association. Birding accommodation guides such as The Birders Guide to Bed & Breakfasts (Van Hulsteyn, 1993) focuses on accommodations near birding areas that cater to birders.
An opportunity exists for interested farmers and ranchers in West Marin and coastal Sonoma County to provide farm based services to tourists while receiving a potentially substantial return. Critical elements for this type of venture include: sincere interest, a personality that is outgoing and patient, land and water resources sufficient to accommodate the chosen venture, capital for start up and conversion costs, and most importantly an accessible location. A service venture will never take the place of farming or ranching but could supplement the primary farm income for interested landowners.
Farm Interviews in West Marin
Sixteen ranchers and local officials were interviewed in winter, 1997. Ranchers were interviewed regarding their interest in developing tourist related activities on their properties while local officials were interviewed regarding their opinions on the potential for agritourism. The majority of ranchers interviewed were interested in accommodations or on farm retail sales, and all interviewees agreed that strong business or market potential existed in their area. Several ranchers cited the numbers of tourists or persons passing through the area. Two people cited the numbers of bicyclists riding through the area and the lack of facilities to house them once they left Point Reyes Station.
Several ranchers seemed interested in the idea of on-farm accommodations or were actively considering pursuing this type of business venture. Concern over assuming greater liability, and overcoming county regulation hurdles were the most common obstacles cited by those interviewed. Some officials cited the mixed reactions residents had regarding tourism in the area but felt accommodating tourists on farms or ranches had reduced impact on town centers.
Since then, two of the ranch families I interviewed have opened a farm B&B and a "Farm Stay" accommodation was developed in the Sebastopol area of Sonoma County. A Farm Trails member is considering an "Apple Ranch" B&B venture. Further conversations with the ranchers indicate that they need marketing assistance, want to grow their businesses slowly, and look at other special market niches to attract tourists to their farm B&Bs.
The Agritourism Market in England
The severe economic problems facing British farmers is widely known. Both employment in agriculture and farming income has dropped significantly since 1981 and changes in the structural support to farmers from the European Community further threaten farm incomes. These changes not only threaten individual farms but the socioeconomic well being of entire rural areas. Tourism was identified as one of the key factors that might provide expanded income opportunities for farmers in rural areas.
Agritourism accounts for a small proportion of rural tourism yet addresses the problem of declining farm income at its source. An Exter University study on farm diversification (Exter, 1991) found that 19.7% of farms in England were providing a service enterprise. About 9.5% of all farms were providing accommodation or catering. While tourism accounts for only 2.5% of bedspaces in registered serviced accommodations and 8.5% of self catering enterprises in England, it provides a unique niche market that cannot be provided by the other accommodation sources. On average, accommodation enterprises on the farm created $10,720 in extra income in 1994.
Significance to Rural Economy and Environment
In the Farm Tourism Market study (Denman & Denman, 1993), researchers found that farm tourism was a strategic force in the rural economy. Of the farmers surveyed throughout England, 63% said that tourism income was vital to them and a similar percentage saw it increasing in importance in the future. Agritourism also retained families on farms as various family members had jobs that related to the agritourism enterprise. Though employing few people outside the farming family, visitors to farms spend widely within the immediate rural community (5 to 10 miles). It is estimated by local tourism authorities that two-thirds of farm guests spend twice as much again as they spend on their overnight accommodation. While many of the farmers I interviewed had been in the farm accommodation business for at least 10 years, the Denman study revealed that one-third of the farms involved had started their enterprises in the last five years.
Attractive countryside is the single most important resource for English tourism in both the domestic and overseas markets. The role of agritourism in helping to maintain the countryside and allow access to it has far wider implications for tourism. Agritourism maintained the "open space" or countryside by retaining the farm families on their land as custodians. More importantly, there is a direct commercial return to the fanner. There is also a growth market in "farm" style accommodations that offer peace and quiet, rustic accommodation, personal contact, simple activities and a connection to agrarian roots.
Agritourism also offers the opportunity to provide "sustainable" or "green" tourism. While it is car dependent and offers only small scale enterprises, it:
- re-uses existing buildings
- offers local initiative and control
- directly supports the local economy and local people
- integrates with other economic and social activities
- seeks to maintain the countryside and draws upon inherent nature of open space
- is small scale with little environmental impact
- and provides visitors with a genuine feel for the area they are visiting.
The revitalization of rural areas has also spanned a number of creative local based incentives and European Union (EU) grants to develop local producer associations such as the Exmoor Producer Association, and the Peak District Products Group. These associations are composed of food producers, artisans, and crafts people working together to promote a wide range of businesses that are producing goods in a rural region. Most produce a brochure that is available in local tourist offices or at a national park office in areas within the park boundaries. In the Peak District National Park, park officals were deeply involved in the development of the producer group seeing the economic health of the local people as critically important to its mission.
Types of Farm Accommodations
The types of accommodations provided by farms in England fit into three categories. The farm B&B, usually includes a bedroom (possibly an attached bathroom) in a farmhouse with breakfast provided. The pricing was generally lower than the higher end country homes and often appealed to families with children, dogs, or horses. It also appealed to individuals who wanted a more rural experience.
The second sort of acconunodation found on farms was a self catering unit. This was a attached or detached unit, usually a remodeled pig sty or converted barn. The unit typically had a small kitchen, sleeping area, and bathroom. It might be attached to the main farmhouse or was found across the barnyard. Basic amenities are provided upon arrival. The rental was typically from Saturday to Saturday for one week, or for long weekends. The unit was typically rented for the same overnight rate as the B&B, but didn't include breakfast. Most of the farmers I interviewed had converted their building(s) recently and seemed very pleased with the commercial success of the units.
The third type of farm accommodation was a camping bam or bunkhouse. This is a very rustic facility offering simple, dry accommodations for 8 to 15 persons with sleeping platforms and a cooking/eating area. The facility combined three objectives: inexpensive accommodations, supplemental income for farmers, and building conservation. The bams I visited varied in their level of accommodation with some providing indoor showers, fully equipped kitchen and electricity such as the Marsden bunkhouses in Peak District, to very rustic bams with no electricity, outdoor showers or bathrooms and a minimal kitchen area, such as the Low Skelgill Farm in Lake District. Typical users included backpackers, hikers, bicyclists, organized groups such as scouts or church groups, families or school and educational groups. Most of the camping bams were redundant bams that had formerly housed animals but were no longer in use. One third of the bams I visited had been slightly improved with EU grants that were received and coordinated by the local park or planning authority. Most camping bams were developed as part of a larger bam network typically within national park boundaries. Farmers received up to $17,000 to convert the buildings.
Following is a sampling of the price differences to illustrate the difference between value and return:
- Farm B&B Range: £15-25 (in British pounds) per person per night, which equates to $25-$45 per person per night or $50-$90 for a couple for one night including breakfast. The older B&B facilities tend to have separate bathrooms and the new conversions were attached due to growing demand (especially by American tourists).
- Farm Self Catering Unit Range: This tended to be similar to the above daily rate and typically ranged from £190-£390 seasonally for a seven night stay. This equates to $323-$663.
- Farm Camping and Bunkhouse Range: £3.25 - £7.00, which equates to approximately $5.50-$12.
There is an elaborate rating system (so British!) of keys and crowns that the various British Tourist Boards adhere to. The crowns apply to the level of service for bed and breakfast and the keys for a similar level in self catering units. Most farms I interviewed told me they could never get a rating over three crowns due to the nature of a farm versus hotel operation. Usually the higher the rating the more expensive the bill.
Centralized Farm Accommodation Organization
The Farm Holiday Bureau (FHB, 1996) was jointly formed in the 1970s by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Farmers Weekly, and the English Tourist Board to help farmers offset farm losses by developing farm accommodations. It is now a private membership organization with 95 different Farm Holiday Groups (FHG) totaling 1,000 farms in England, Scotland and Wales. Their attractive booklet, also published in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, provides basic information and a line drawing of each farm, how to reach the farm, general price range and tourist board rating. The FHB also has a web page you can visit to make reservations directly.
Each group selects officers, levies their own marketing fees for additional promotion, and organizes an accommodation referral service so that no tourist is turned away. Each year an accommodation secretary is selected from the group whose job is to keep up to date referral information available. The group's goal is to accommodate all of the people that call. If one farm is full, they can refer the caller to another farm.
While all groups belong to the FHB, each group has developed their own unique characteristics and standards that fit their areas. According to Joan Best, a member of a group in Wales "our group had determined that only working farms could be included in our group since so many country homes were attempting to use the word farm when they were no longer farming or in most cases, never had." They defined "working" as the land being actively farmed with a certain percentage of income derived directly from farming. The Exmoor FHB group was not so strict about this definition and interpreted it more loosely.
Photo: Camping barn situated in Lake District National Park. (Photo by Ellen Rilla.)
The Peak District Farm Holiday Group
One example of a group's savvy marketing is the Peak District Farm Holiday Group. This is a large group consisting of 34 members. They represent a total of 5,982 acres spread over 32 farms. Most farms range from 150 to 300 acres in size. Seven are exclusively dairy farms, but the majority have mixed animal operations. Eleven farms are within the Peak District National Park boundaries and 19 fall within the Least Favourable Area (LFA), a EU term usually referring to hill farming or poor soil conditions. Scenic appeal is created by the farming practices, the farmers, and the sheep beef and dairy cows.
With livestock farming being so dominant in the area the effects of the BSE crisis, or mad cows disease, are being strongly felt. There are policy limitations for diversifying into other nonfarming activities and natural limitations on alternative farming enterprises. Consequently farm based tourism is one enterprise farmers can adopt and its importance to individual farms should increase.
Approximately 50 million people live within one to two hours of the park and over 2 million overnight there annually. Farms have welcomed guests for a long time and during the 1970s and 1980s developed their FHB groups. The Peak group offers training to their members with workshops in computer skills, first aid, host program, business skills, accounting and marketing.
Some members added wheelchair accessible accommodations in their self catering units. At Beechenhill Farm, the Prince family indicated that their wheelchair accessible units were constantly booked. This group as well as others I met were keenly aware of the importance of providing fresh local farm produce. Most used their own eggs and milk and some had large gardens used to grow produce for their guest meals. In both the Exmoor and Peak areas new associations had sprung up to promote local producers, artisans and crafts businesses.
Sue Prince stated that, "one of our largest problems is lost bookings since all the members are so active in running their farms, they can't always be near the phone." Group members were encouraged by the recent addition of a FHB website which had increased bookings and inquiries.
Recently the group applied for and was awarded EU monies to help them increase business. The grant will pay for computer and fax purchases to enable more efficient booking and ultimately direct booking over the Internet. It will also pay to develop links and promotional activities with the local "producer" groups and to implement improvement plans for sixteen of the member accommodations.
Survey of Agritourism Operators
I visited a range of farm operations during my two month stay in Britain. I focused my interviews on English farms that I thought approximated those in West Marin: 100 to 500 acres in size, primarily animal based, run by 3rd and 4th generation families. I wasn't interested in a broad sampling of all the farm families, only those who had chosen to initiate agritourism ventures in the past 5 to 10 years or hadn't yet started up a venture but were in the process of doing so.
Most farms were a mix of beef, dairy and sheep with some arable grain crop. Several had large organic gardens used to supplement their B&B business. Most farms were within 50-150 miles of large metropolitan areas (e.g. greater Manchester, Liverpool, and Cardiff) and their agritourism venture was typically a B&B, camping barn, self catering unit or occasional farm tours. We did not discuss specific income levels only the ratio of farm to tourism activity. I also visited with active members of the National Farmers Union and the Countryside Landowners Association, two lobbying and political groups representing farmers in England and the rest of Britain.
Most of the larger agritourism activities, such as the Edwards Family operation that included six self catering units, a 40 unit caravan park, four farm walking trails, and a horse facility involved the majority of family members in some way.
All of my hosts were friendly, helpful, and anxious to tell me their stories and were very interested in the outcome of a similar effort in Northern California. They were surprised to hear that we had nothing similar as "Stay on a Farm" and assumed our farm operators were in a better financial situation than themselves.
Following is a summary of what I learned during the farmer interviews. A listing of farmers is provided in Appendix B (not available at this time on the web) and a more detailed copy of the interviews is available upon request.
What were the personal and family considerations in developing the enterprise?
All the farmers interviewed expanded their farm ventures for financial reasons. In addition to the added income they indicated reasons such as having a "home based business while the children were young" to "having something their children could inherit and run."
How did farmers determine what enterprises were most suitable and profitable for their situation?
This was primarily based on what they saw other farmers around them doing and what their time, interest and building infrastructure allowed them to do. In some cases it was an in-house B&B, others developed self catering units, and some developed a simple bunkhouse or camping barn. All of them grew their added farm endeavors over time as the business evolved.
Did farmers have liability insurance?
This was a given. Everyone had it, and it was usually purchased in addition to the farm policy they carried with the National Farmers Union (NFU), a similar organization as our state and national Farm Bureaus. All of them kept separate books and ran the farm enterprise and the farm accommodation enterprise as separate businesses.
How did farmers develop their facilities?
This was accomplished slowly over time; approximately half the farmers I interviewed had some grant assistance to convert their barns, usually up to a limit of £10,000 ($17,000), while the rest financed it on their own.
How did farmers develop their marketing plans?
Most stressed the importance of being a working farm and offering guests a "farm" experience which might range from viewing barnyard animals to helping with chores. All expressed the importance of spending time with their guests and the personal exchange of information and sharing of their lifestyle. They all agreed that being a member of a FHB or group was critical to their overall success since they didn't have the necessary marketing skills alone but could with membership in a larger effort.
Some offered paid educational farm tours for school groups that guests could join, some treated guests as members of a large extended family and so had a very large repeat customer business, while some simply offered local produce at the meals, farm animals for viewing, information about the farm and a quiet rural setting.
What was their financial outlook?
For some it was an entirely family run business where each family member played a role. For some the farm could not be sustained without the extra income from the additional business; for others it had grown to approximately 50% of their entire farm business. Income ranged from 20 up to 60% of their current total farm income.
What was once a seasonal business has become year-round. Most had 40-60% year-round occupancy rates and were anxious to increase their businesses.
Where did they get help? What was the relationship like with authorities? Did it help to be within a national park?
Most had mixed responses. Yes, it helped being in the national park because its a destination for tourists and a perfect marketplace and no, because there are so many regulations and so much bureaucracy.
While all agreed that they were heavily regulated, subsidized, and needed permission to do anything on their farm, few complained that local regulations prohibited them from expanding their farm ventures. No one I interviewed was prohibited from converting to an accommodation venture. Only the size and scope were limited.
At least half the farmers resented the fact that they had to comply with the extra regulations involved with being part of a national park but most had taken advantage of the conservation grants offered by the farm and countryside service arm of the national park they were part of. Most of the farmers I interviewed were children when the park boundaries came into effect in 1951 and thus it had always been a part of their lives.
In addition, an overwhelming number of farmers interviewed agreed that the primary keys to success for starting an endeavor included these essentials:
- group membership in marketing, such as the FHB
- support of community generally
- and specific regulatory support from the planning arm of local government.
Case Studies of Four Agritourism Operators
Located in the heart of the Exmoor National Park, Westermill Farm is a 500 acre farm owned by Jackie and John Edwards. Jackie was instrumental in starting the FHB unit in her area and traveled throughout England helping other FHB groups get started in the 1980s. John has been a district and county councilor for over 35 years. While their enterprise evolved slowly, they currently have six holiday cottages (self catering units) and a large camping or caravan park area. They also run a large mixed sheep/beef operation. The whole family is involved in the farm and farm tourism operations. While their primary motivation is monetary they are also interested in sharing the beauty of their area with others. They hope to turn the farm over to their sons and daughters when they retire and see the farm tourism as a necessity to realistically accomplishing this goal. Today, the agritourism is 50% of their farm income; the other 50% is animal farming.
Gateham Grange is a 150-acre mixed beef and sheep operation situated in the Peak District National Park. Both Theresa and Robert Flowers, the farm owners and operators, come from local farm families. Theresa is the current accommodations secretary for the local FHB group and Robert is active in the local NFU. "We bought the property 13 years ago and decided to convert two of our redundant barns to holiday cottages or self catering units because we had to in order to make it work financially," said Theresa.
They did receive some assistance to convert one of the units, and are in the process of converting an off site barn into a camping barn that will sleep up to 12 people. Fifty percent of their farm income is derived from the agritourism portion of their business. Theresa indicated that her business is almost exclusively British and practically year-round from March through November.
Photo: Westermill Farm walking brochures.
Thorp Farm is a 158-acre dairy farm situated in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park. It is owned and operated by the Marsden Family, Jane and John and their four sons. It has been in their family for four generations. They milk approximately 150 Holsteins and run several hundred sheep. They decided to convert two barns to bunkhouses as they needed the extra income.
They also decided to do bunkhouse style barns, which are a bit more upscale than the typical camping barn. Guests bring their own sleeping bags and food, but all utensils, cook facilities, toilets, showers and bunk platforms are provided. Electricity is included in the price of the rental which is £6 ($10) per night or twice the price of camping barns. The Marsdens advertise in the youth hostel, climber, and walker magazines. They have a 50-60% occupancy rate with 40% from clubs, 30% climbers, and 30% other organized groups who typically rent the whole bunkhouse. The Marsdens run educational farm tours with their son, Jonathan.
Low Skelgill Camping Barn
With encouragement from the national park authorities, she opened a camping barn on her property by converting the old attached horse stable two years ago. She is part of a 10-barn network within the park boundaries. The conversion cost her £I0,000 or $17,000, as no grants were available, but the booking service, advertising and promotion is provided by the park for a nominal fee. Her occupancy rate is approximately 50% year-round, primarily from groups who rent the whole barn. She charges £3 per night ($5) for up to 12 people. She also serves breakfast for £3 ($5) extra. She thought it will take two to three years to recoup her investment.
Photo 1: The Thorp Farm bunkhouse kitchen. (Photo: Ellen Rilla.)
Photo 2: Travelers enjoying breakfast. (Photo: Ellen Rilla.)
General Consumer Reaction
This section provides a summary of consumer reaction to farm accommodations in England as described in the Farm Tourism Study (Denman & Derunan, 1993).
Farm B&B/Self Catering Units
Responses of visitors to farm B&Bs indicated that people look for a specific experience different from other forms of accommodation. The primary factors in choosing farms are: attractive rural setting, peace and quiet, and value for their money. Other factors included wholesome breakfasts, interaction with the fan-n family and information about the farm.
Results also indicated a large existing market that wanted a quiet rural farm experience particularly for young and retired couples. There is also a growing market for a family experience most likely to be filled with self catering units. Almost 16% of visitors were business visitors at farm B&Bs. They tend to come off season and during the week and seem committed to the concept. The business visitor profile includes independent business people who want something different than a motorway motel. The right location for easy access was critical for business visitors.
Other markets include local fresh produce, the "farm" experience of seeing and being around animals, and taking walks around the farm. The following is a good example of a farm B&B whose owners are promoting their assets and uniqueness in their farm brochure:
Most of the camping barns and bunkhouses in England are situated around or near the 11 national parks, where visitors are looking for alternative accommodations. Most are reserved by groups of at least 10, and 20% had repeat customers. The groups tend to be church, school or some type of educational group. Most traveled by car to the site, with biking or walking as the next most common modes. The barns invited comments like "better than a tent but not much more expensive;" "quiet location;" "and interacting and contributing to rural life." The primary activities cited by the users were hiking, biking, climbing, and visiting conservation/educational sites. Respondents were also willing to pay up to £7-7.6 ($6.50-$13).
Recommendations for Farmers
Results from the Farm Tourism Market study (Denman & Denman, 1993) indicated that growth in business could be attributed to membership in FHB as well as growth in bookings from the intemet.
Researchers also recommended that farms do the following:
- farms should be encouraged to and assisted with making more of any wildlife or conservation interest for guests
- all farms should have an area where guests can walk, with circular routes, if possible
- consideration should be given to having bicycles available
- Visitors should be told something about the farm or a handout should be provided in the room
- a simple farm trail pointing out aspects of interest should be considered
- all farms should carry general tourist literature
- more use of local produce should be emphasized
- farms should maintain strong links with other B&Bs
- good roadside signage is a must, along with clear directions
- scheduling a daily farm activity that guests can participate in
- consideration should be given to a farm tourism brochure directing guests to various farm related attractions.
Denman & Denman (1993) concluded that there is a considerable market of consumers who are potentially interested in staying on farms but have not been sufficiently exposed to promotion to convert this interest into action. The concept of agritourism as a separate entity is not established in the U.S. and would need to be developed.
Agritourism movements in other countries are working in different markets and activities and ideas can't simply be imported. However, the fact exists that the California family farm is threatened with extinction and any ideas that help maintain these farms and that fit the character and community development goals of a particular rural community are worth considering.
Other Farm Attractions
In England, the agritourism system exists in its most organized form and is highly popular. While the farm B&B seemed to be the most profitable venture I observed in my travels and interviews with farmers in England, many farmers operated other combinations of ventures, such as farm shops, historic gardens, wildlife or farm animal parks, and pick your own establishments. The dominant market for farm attractions is local day visits by families with children and organized school groups. Many rural areas have created initiatives for producer groups, artisans, and crafts people as described previously. In my opinion, most English farm attractions were too commercial in nature to be successfully replicated in West Marin or the North Bay.
Agritourism in Europe
Throughout Europe, there has been considerable interest in the field of agritourism, responding to the combination of agricultural decline and a growing market for holidays in the countryside. The European Federation of Village and Farm Tourism, which includes organizations from 12 countries, has made some moves to increase awareness of agritourism across Europe. Agritourism has emerged in Europe to embrace most types of rural tourism in the countryside, whether it is actually on a farm or not. The concept is spreading into Eastern Europe.
One of my hosts, Ken Parker, spent three months traveling through Europe exploring local rural initiatives. In Austria, he discovered the Arriach Hofwanderweg, a 10 mile farm trail created through a collaborative effort between the local tourist association, the village council, and the individual farms along the trail. It is a signed walk, agreed upon by the farmers, and signed by the council. It connects farms with information boards at intervals explaining local wildlife, farm systems, historic buildings etc. Several of the farms provide tourist accommodations, and others sell local produce.
Accommodations on farms in Germany are very extensive, though they are mostly oriented to the domestic market. The product is promoted by the Agricultural Society. Many stays are lengthy, from one to two weeks and there is a significant family market.
Agritourism is very well established in Austria. It is largely promoted within regions. Much is made of the different farm experiences which visitors can have on each farm. Families make up a large part of the market.
In Denmark, agritourism is promoted by a 250-member organization similar to FHB that is supported by public sector bodies and the farmers' union. Fifty percent of the market is Danish, and the rest is European. A free color brochure advertises a mixture of B&B and self catering units with marketing focus on local produce and farm experiences.
France has Gites de France, with everything from children's farm experiences to B&Bs. It is regionally organized, centrally coordinated, and has an extensive commercial marketing operation throughout Europe that makes reservations for the consumer and the trade. They embrace all types of rural accommodations and don't focus exclusively on farms. Another movement in France, the Chambers d'Agriculture, has begun a program "Bienvenue a la Ferme" which has a clear brand logo and promotes Fermes de Sejour (farm accommodation), Fermes Auberges (farm based caterers), and Gouters and Produits de la Ferme (places to taste and buy farm produce) through one guide and promotion.
The 450 member Irish Farm Holidays Association has been established for many years. This group has a central computerized reservations system with 107 agents, and tour operators featuring its product internationally. It also runs a voucher system which is extremely popular and accounts for one third of its business.
As an example of emerging competition in Eastern Europe, Slovenia has an attractive full color brochure of farmhouse holidays, translated into five languages. Focus is on meeting local people, enjoying farm life, local food, and produce, and providing opportunities for children's involvement. Listed with the accommodations are farms that offer food and fiber products for sale.
The above section was exerpted in part from the study "The Farm Tourism Market," (Denman & Denman, 1993) published for the English Tourist Board.
Significance of Proximity to National Park and Other Planning Authorities
One of the largest differences between local planning processes is the directive nature of the local planning process that the English countryside is governed by. While it is very complex, with overlapping agency jurisdictions and mandates, all of the agencies recognize the need to preserve the countryside and the farmers that maintain it. They do so in a very active manner. My remarks pertain only to the local park authorities since I spent most of my time in or adjacent to the parks.
Most planning authorities explicitly encourage development of farm accommodation and farm based attractions. There is a shared commitment by park officials and county councils in the form of financial, regulatory and psychological commitment. The local people carry out these initiatives with the support of these officials.
There was a long and concerted effort to create public parks similar to those in the United States. Two world wars interceded and it wasn't until 1949, when the parliament passed the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, that national parks were created in England and Wales. The act authorized the oversight of 11 areas of scenic beauty to be managed by independent park authorities. Each authority is made up of a board or committee, whose members are appointed by the county or district councils that lie within the park boundaries, and by the government. They have their own budgets, allocated annually, with about 75% coming from the government and the rest from the county councils. Each park is managed by a park officer with staff made up of professional planners; environmental, recreational and educational specialists; rangers, field staff, and other support services. By law, each park prepares a park plan and a local plan which governs the local planning strategy.
Most of the English and Welsh parks were confirmed in the early 1950s. Largely made up of privately farmed and managed countryside, the park boundaries also include towns and villages. Essentially, a national park is an expanse of beautiful countryside which is specially protected so that everyone may enjoy it. National parks comprise 5.5% of the land in England.
The National Park Authority is encouraging farming to change from a single purpose industry, concerned only with food production, to a multi-purpose industry concerned with a wider range of farming activities. Those activities would include provision for tourism and recreation, woodland management and conservation of landscape, wildlife and historic features.
Photo: Ranger Val Edmundson with cooperator in front of newly established hedgerow on the Philips farm. (Photo by Ellen Rilla.)
I visited the three following national parks in England: Exmoor, the Peak District and the Lake District. While a brief synopsis of these areas is provided here, greater detail on the farming and conservation in each area is described in Appendix C.
Exmoor is the smallest park, with only 10,494 rural residents and 500,000 sheep scattered over 267 square miles. Seventy-seven percent of the land is in private ownership. There are about 600 farms and only recently did tourism overtake agriculture as the main occupation of Exmoor residents. An estimated 3 million visitors travel to the area annually. A coastal park, it resembles the Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Peak District is surrounded by the greater Manchester-Liverpool midlands area. Its annual visitor estimates are 22 million, similar to Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Its population is 37,400 spread over 125 towns and villages. About 54% of the park is farmed land and there are approximately 2,000 farms.
The Lake District, the largest of the parks at 1,368 square miles, is north of the midlands area with a local population of 40,000, and 20 million annual visitors. It seems the most impacted of the three parks, with serious erosion on the trails, lots of car traffic and congestion. One official I interviewed described it "as being loved to death."
Most of the farmers I spoke with were resigned to the fact that they were governed by the park planning authorities. In other non-park areas many of the same restrictions apply.
The British Public Access Model
British law pertaining to public access to the countryside was not the focus of my project. It was important to understand it, however, as it forms the backbone of the public right of way system in Britain and underscores the importance for maintaining a positive relationship with farmers and landowners who own 80% of the land in Britain.
Britain has an historic legacy of common land ranging from broad upland pastures to small village greens, with about one fifth legally open to the public. Rights of way are the most common method in which people access the countryside. They extend some 120,000 miles throughout the British Isles. They give the public the legal right to walk (in the case of footpaths) or walk, ride or cycle (in the case of bridleways) whether the owner of the land agrees or not. There are very stringent rules about the responsibilities of the visitor as well. The paths are clearly marked on all ordinance survey maps of the entire country. Anyone straying off these marked paths is considered to be trespassing and can be ordered off the land or fined.
In national parks, the authorities work to ensure that paths are signposted and are kept in passable and safe conditions. Outside of the parks these are the responsibilities of the highway authorities, which are usually the local county council or on individual property, the landowner. There are also national long distance trails encompassing 1,480 miles.
While a walker can pass through private property, the route is generally designated to follow the edge of the property line. The landowner is not liable for injuries or in any way obliged to ensure the safety of people using rights of way. Regarding animals: while dogs on leash are allowed on most paths, farmers have the right to shoot and kill any dog out of control or worrying sheep. Walkers are also liable to be fined, be ordered to pay compensation to the owner and have the dog destroyed if it kills any livestock.
My interviews and visits focused on agritourism operators and the state or town/village officials who were involved in local agritourism.
Most of the 3.2 million people live in the greater Hartford area (1.5 million) while the rest of counties are generally rural. I focused my visits in the rural Eastern counties of New London, part of the Mystic Tourism District, and part of the Route 169 National Scenic Byway.
Connecticut's agriculture industry farmgate contributions are approximately $521 million annually. Traditional agriculture sectors such as dairy and egg production continue to consolidate. New London, the largest dairy producing county in the state, had 69 farmers in 1993. Today, the total number of dairy farmers in Connecticut is 265. The number of dairies will continue to decline in the Northeast (Vermont, New York, New Hampshire) as farms get bigger and western states continue to produce more milk. Dairying contributed $73.4 million to the economy in 1993 and utilizes 75% of the cropland for grain production. Field corn, hay, aquaculture, and specialty crops are other significant components of agriculture in Connecticut. Because of its location between Boston and New York, Connecticut can take advantage of the growing consumer demand for fresh, local produce.
The decline of rural and open space land has been dramatic. A farmland preservation program was passed by the legislature in 1978 and as of 1995, 25,635 acres of development rights had been purchased on 162 farms. Many of the farm tourism operators I interviewed mentioned their interest in purchase of their development rights. In one case, the money was needed to help capitalize their agritourism venture. Most farms are in the rural areas of the state, and the majority of the rural community are white collar professionals, a potential local consumer source for farmers.
Vermont is similar to West Marin in its predominance of dairy agriculture. In the past 20 years Vermont has experienced tremendous upheaval as dairies have gone out of business or had to go through extreme transition in the way they do business. Many farmers have developed alternative sources of on-farm income as a result. In direct receipts to the farmer, agriculture in Vermont earned about $451 million in 1992; about 75% from dairy products. Second to dairy is beef, with 200,000 cattle marketed by producers.
Approximately 27% of the land in Vermont is devoted to agriculture. Because agriculture in Vermont maintains the scenic beauty of the countryside, it is recognized as a critical component of the economy. As Roger Clapp, head of marketing for the state Department of Agriculture briefed me, "tourism is the other largest industry in the state and the two fit well together as tourism is geared towards rural or farm tourist experiences."
Vermont leads the nation in development of specialty products. In the past 15 years the number of companies has blossomed from seven to 200. From Ben and Jerry's ice cream to maple syrup, specialty cheeses, and value added lamb products, Vermont agriculturists create successful niche markets to save its agricultural production.
I focused my visits in Wayne and Oswego Counties in upstate New York near Lake Ontario. Wayne County is the fifth largest agricultural county in New York with 919 farms producing over $95 million in gross sales annually. Wayne County just finished developing a Farmland Protection Plan and agritourism is an important component of the plan. At 400,000 acres, with 89% of its land considered prime farmland, Wayne County feels the pressures of a rapidly urbanizing county. Farms are still small and family owned but a majority of farm families indicate that the next generation will probably not be in farming.
To the east, Oswego County has 740 farms, generating $65 million annually on 114,000 acres with dairy being the largest sector. Oswego is also famous for its muck vegetable industry. "Muck" soils are high in organic matter and ideal for growing onions, lettuce and other high value crops. Agriculture is also diversifying into equine operations and floriculture. There are 36 different Supervisors in Oswego County with 26 towns and villages and a population of 125,000. There is no zoning in many parts of the county.
The Agritourism Market in Connecticut, Vermont and New York
Tourism is an important component of the Connecticut economy and is considered one of the six key industry clusters in the state. Prior to the end of the cold war, the military was the largest employer in the area, with the nuclear submarine base at Norwich. In the last five years, two Indian tribes have developed gambling facilities. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council built Foxwood Casino five years ago near Preston, and the Mohegan tribe built a smaller casino across the river in a former nuclear facility.
Under the guidance and oversight of 11 tourism districts, agritourism is an important niche. Farms, vineyards, apples, pick your own, and promotional trails are organized, published and promoted by the two district areas I visited. The area's dairies developed a farm diversity brochure describing products sold at their farms. Several dairy farms have set up retail ice cream stands near busy byways that have been quite profitable.
In Vermont, the two biggest industries are tourism and agriculture. As University of Vermont Extension Specialist Bob Townsend said in his talk with participants at a recent agritourism workshop at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Killington, "Your customer is three to four generations removed from the farm and they've seen the Disney cow, and Ben and Jerry's cow but not a real cow." He added, "..they want the real thing, to see and talk with the farmer." They don't want to drive or travel too far as they're taking smaller trips more often of two to three day stays. This is the market that Vermont is geared towards in combining farm and tourism experiences.
Vermont is fortunate enough to be the right size and scale that one equates Vermont's name with scenic beauty, agricultural products, farms and places to stay (Vallliere, 1996). Vermont has a very sophisticated, single minded tourism support group. The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing teamed with University of Vermont to create the Vermont Tourism Data Center whose staff in turn provide clearinghouse support and statistics to a variety of nature based, historical, recreational and agricultural tourism ventures. An agritourism committee formed recently and their activities are described in detail further ahead in this section.
Roger Clapp handles the agricultural marketing support for the state's Department of Agriculture at the capital in Montpelier, and his department helps small groups starting up with organization and promotion. They're also working with 15 cheese producers in the state to promote Vermont cheeses. For example, the Vermont Land Trust provided funds to start an apprenticeship program with Major Farms to teach six apprentices how to milk and care for their herds, and make "green" sheep cheese.
Roger states, "In Vermont there is a clear understanding that we need to diversify our attractions, letting people know we're more than maple syrup and maple leaves." Annually, 22 million people cross the state without stopping. The agritourism committee members are trying to package different experiences together such as gourmet get away packages with different meals and overnight accommodations at farms to encourage more of these travelers to stop and visit.
New York's agricultural industry is the largest in the state, with over 32,000 farms selling produce valued at over $18 billion annually. Agritourism combines this industry with New York's second largest industry-tourism. Unfortunately New York suffers from some of the same marketing problems as California. Because it is so large, visitors tend to think of New York City as synonymous with the state, overshadowing it's rural or other more scenic aspects.
Researchers at Cornell University have documented the status of agritourism in New York. Authored by Duncan Hilchey in 1993, the publication, Agritourism in New York State, provides several brief case studies, and describes some of the educational materials available. Duncan also interviewed a small sampling of farm tour operators and developed an excellent slide set about several of the agritourism operations.
Both Wayne and Oswego County leaders are focusing on a number of strategies to preserve and maintain agriculture as a viable sector in their counties. Their ideas are similar to efforts found in the North Bay and many other areas of the U.S. and include local and regional marketing, expansion into agritourism, and purchase and/or transfer of development rights. Local leaders are just getting started with the agritourism effort. Wayne County recently received $17 million to rejuvenate the Erie Canal as a tourist attraction. Local leaders are hoping to hire a part time community development specialist who would be housed in the Cooperative Extension office to help develop this effort.
Currently 22 different farms offering u-pick, farm markets, farm tours or B&B accommodations operate in Wayne County. The fledgling farmers market in Wayne County is sponsored by the local Cooperative Extension office which hosts the weekly event in its large parking lot alongside a busy roadway.
Survey of Agritourism Operators
The 20 farms I visited and interviewed were active in some form of agritourism in Eastern Connecticut, Vermont and upstate New York. The farm operations ranged from 10 to 1,500 acres, including diversified dairy operations, farm stands, farm B&Bs, petting paddocks, pumpkin patches, specialty cheeses, ice cream, farm museums, farm wedding sites, farm kitchens and related farm products, berries and maple sugar. Some were small supplemental direct market operations employing family members only, others were very large and diversified and included non family employees. All were direct market ventures, meaning the operator promoted and sold their product directly to the customer. One third of those interviewed had diversified into catalog sales and maintained active mailing and promotional lists.
Farmers and entrepreneurs indicated the importance of several key factors in the success of any agritourism endeavor
- the type of person that enjoys constant exposure to customers and people
- an attractive setting or farm, especially if the product involves the farm experience
- a nearby population or steady stream of potential customers
- patience and perseverance.
Following is a summary of responses gathered during the farmer interviews. A listing of farmers is provided in Appendix D and a more detailed copy of the interviews is available upon request.
What were the personal and family considerations in developing their enterprise?
The majority of those responded that they needed additional income and saw diversification as alternative to loss of the farm. Younger farm couples inheriting the farm, saw the operation as something very different than their parents. For a few it was a dream come true and a lifestyle choice.
How did farmers determine what enterprises were most suitable and profitable for their situation?
This was a mix of interest, abilities, financing, and infrastructure and response to observations on numbers of tourists or potential customers passing through the area. All of their enterprises had started small and evolved through time.
Did farmers have liability insurance?
I found more entrepreneurs who had had claims for an injury occurring on the property than in England. Yet no operations had ceased business nor had the insurer terminated coverage. Operators were generally covered by either Farm Family or had B&B coverage through John Wolf Insurance Company (specializes in innkeepers).
How did farmers develop their facilities?
A majority of the recent farm oriented B&Bs had no code allowing their usage in the towns or villages in which they resided so they were involved in the actual writing of the codes and/ or became actively involved in the local town zoning committee. Several farmers indicated the importance of lining up your supporters and anticipating the negative responses you might experience in going through a permitting process.
How did farmers develop their marketing plans?
The majority had the site, the potential customers, and the personality for promoting their business. Determining the type of venture they were developing took longer and succeeded only through trial and error. They became excellent promoters of their businesses, listening to customers, asking for feedback, and watching others succeed or fail. In one case, a farmer had the capital to bring in European experts to teach the group sheep cheese finishing.
What was their financial outlook?
Most farm entrepreneurs were at a crossroads with growth. The majority used only family and extended family members to operate, though in a few cases, they had businesses that were booming and no family member who was interested in helping. For some, the agritourism venture was the primary source of income and the operation tended to be more businesslike in nature. For others the venture was a seasonal, important but supplemental income. Several stated that the venture had become sufficient enough that it "was impossible to stop doing."
Where did they get help? Was there any impact on farm portion?
One of the questions I didn't ask in England and added to the East Coast interviews was the impact on the primary farming operation. For those marketing and selling on-site, the impacts were significant. In the case of the farm B&Bs, one person responded that it took at least an hour each day to answer questions, and explain the farming cycle, but that spending time with guests was the most important part of the experience. Others stressed the importance of having strong spousal and family relationships as they were constantly on public display.
Help and resources came from regional extension agritourism workshops; visits to other operations that offered support and advice; membership in an association of similar ventures; community volunteers, local land trusts, and for one, a wealthy benefactor.
Other key points were made by successful agritourism entrepreneurs, but Al Amundsen of Wright's Mill Farm in Connecticut summed it up best:
"Do your homework -- take plenty of time to visit other operations to see how they do it and what works; take time to evolve; for every ten silly ideas that don't succeed, the 11th might; there is no recipe or magic formula for success that you can purchase; you need to be ready for the challenge of the journey."
Connecticut: Tourism Districts and Joint Agritourism Project
In 1994, Norm Bender, Extension Educator at University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension in Norwich teamed together with Nini Davis, in the Connecticut Visitors Bureau and the state Farm Bureau to design and conduct a regional tourism project with interested farms in Eastern Connecticut. Their project was developed in response to a large surge of suburban growth in traditionally rural farming communities.
After forming an agritourism committee in 1994 the group applied to the State Department of Economic Development for funds to continue their project. The group was awarded a one year tourism challenge grant and completed a survey of existing and developing agritourism operations. It developed a series of regional workshops and brochures on Connecticut's farms and agritourism which it mailed to farms and tourist centers in Connecticut. The group also helped to host a series of local events including guided weekend farm tours and several bike tours. The weekend hikes, which were attended by 3,000 people, were enormously popular and have developed into an annual event (Bender, 1996).
Eleven regional tourism districts were created in 1992 to coordinate use of the bed and meal tax receipts received back into local areas. Norm felt that too much time and money is spent solely on promotion. He indicated that "...the group I'm part of is spending all our tourism district dollars on marketing and too little on strategically planning for the future. We're not thinking about what we want to become and if we'll like what we see."
He was concerned about "tourism killing tourism", a process that occurs when too much tourist development spoils the very place that once attracted tourists. Developing third world nations, such as Thailand experienced this phenomenon as rampant hotel and golf course development overran former pristine areas (Pleumarom, 1993).
For example, Norm said that fifteen years ago most businesses in downtown Mystic, a popular sea resort town, catered to residents. Now he estimates that 95% are tourist driven and fewer stores cater to amenities for locals. Despite this, there are no public bathrooms or public parking planned by local town officials, so weekend traffic is highly congested.
Vermont: Joint Agritourism Promotion
The agritourism committee started as a result of the governor setting up three task force committees for tourism: international, historical, and outdoor. Industry activists lobbied to have agriculture added as a fourth hence the start of the agritourism taskforce committee.
One of the outcomes of the taskforce report was the decision to develop and produce 100,000 copies of aVermont Farms! Map. After advertising the map in the state newsletter, the taskforce listed 246 farms and businesses in it for $25 each. Out of a total of 5,400 farms in Vermont, these 5% are the ones already conducting some type of farm tourism venture. The map includes farm stays, farmers markets, farm stands, farm tours and even restaurants that use local products.
Liberty Hill Farm Case Study
The sound of children playing can be heard at Liberty Hill Farm, off a rural road near Rochester, in the heart of the Green Mountains in Vermont. The sounds of the milk truck can be heard coming down the road to pick up milk from Beth and Bob Kennett's 155 registered Holstein herd this beautiful fall morning. Since 1983, Beth and Bob, with their sons Tom and David, have opened their working dairy farm and home to guests for meals and lodging.
Once you meet Beth and her family and the beautiful setting of their farm with its classic red barn, big vegetable gardens, and numerous farm and barnyard animals, you can understand why visitors do not want to leave. Children are very welcome here as this is a family destination!
Liberty Hill Farm became a destination for families who came to experience farm life with a farm family. The importance of the direct contact with real farmers cannot be underestimated. The Kennetts also offer the daily ritual of eating together, an experience that many families no longer have with both parents working.
Beth loves to cook, so this is a ritual she plans to maintain. Her repeat business is phenomenal (60-70%) and many families return year after year for a week at a time. As Beth states "my biggest competitor to the Liberty Hill Farm experience is Disneyland, and usually once the family does that the children want to return here to see real animals."
Photo: The Dairy Barn. (Photo by Ellen Rilla.)
Beth's words of wisdom to other farms thinking about this type of endeavor:
- Work with what you have to suit your needs, strength and abilities.
- Maintain a professional relationship between yourself and your guests especially as it relates to drinking. This doesn't mean you can't be friendly, warm and helpful but don't step over the line.
- Don't tell your guests your problems. They come to the farm to relax. They want to know lots about the farm but don't burden them with your personal and financial problems.
- There are hazards. The industry average life for B&Bs is three years, with alcoholism, divorce and burnout as primary reasons for closure. There is certainly stress from having your private life on display. The farm operation is either going to be an anchor or stress release from the B&B side, or the additional work may put you over the edge.
- The most important element is a strong relationship between your spouse and your children.
Samples from Beth's Guest Book
"This is our third time and we've had a great time. This is our farm away from home and we love it. Thanks for making us a part of your family and making us feel at home for a few days. The best part, is our kids will grow up with these wonderful memories of days spent on the farm." - Josephine, John, Michael, Christine, & Timmy
"Dear Beth, the food was very good. I loved the cows, cats and chickens. I wish we never had to leave." - Jennifer
"The children found 20 eggs (!) and wanted to take home the kittens. Our 5 yr. old wants to be moved into the barn. Thank you for opening your home and life to us, and for giving us the opportunity to rethink our values." - Patrick
I met several members of the agritourism taskforce during my stay in Vermont and was truly impressed with their accomplishments. Taskforce members couldn't overemphasize the networking, mutual aid and cooperative effort they received from the group's work.
Because of their joint enthusiasm over the map project the taskforce decided to create an association. I received copies of the draft articles of incorporation and bylaws as the committee has decided to create an association called Vermont Farms! with the express mission to promote, foster, and enhance agricultural related tourism in Vermont.
Vermont Farms! is also creating standards of membership. Its goals include member training, cooperation and lobbying in support of agritourism in Vermont and its members; enhancing the viability of agriculturally related tourism businesses in Vermont; and further development of the marketing infrastructure to support the above goals.
New York: The Seaways Trail Success Story
I visited with Theresa Mitchell, executive director at Seaway Trails, a non-profit member association of 500 businesses promoting the 454-mile seaway trail area. The group is designated a scenic byway and is able to obtain Department of Transportation and other federal grant funds. It emphasizes a variety of resource themes or strands -- one of which is coastal agriculture. As part of the group's overall master plan, it has developed recommendations for promotion of agriculture via tourist activities. Its agritourism action plan was coordinated with farms, local community members and businesses, restaurants, Cornell Cooperative Extension and tourism agencies.
There are information kiosks and signs placed along the byway designating and directing visitors to sites of interest. The organization also publishes an agri-sampler brochure listing agritourism businesses and events. Future plans include a Bed and Bales network to attract horseback riders to ride and overnight at local farm B&Bs along the trailway, and a reservation system packaging agritourism sites with other trailwide attractions.
"What is agri-touring? Along New York State's Seaway Trail it is traveling through miles of coastal scenery with vineyards, orchards, fields and farmland, through a four season celebration of the earth, its waters, and fresh air. It is an experience of a special way of life. As travelers and tourists, you'll find an appreciation for spring's hope of the harvest as green seedlings march in symmetry toward the sun. Through summer, fall, and winter, you'll find joy in the harvest of the fruits, vegetables, livestock and many other fruits of farmers' labor and of growers all along the trail." -from Journey Magazine, 1997.
While this area was not the focus of my project, I did discover several active agritourism groups in the west. Pat Dickerman has been promoting the ranch recreational experience for years through her book Farm, Ranch, and Country Vacations in America.
University Extension staff and Rural Development Specialists in the Southwest and Western states are much more experienced in this area. Private consultants in Wyoming such as RLS International have a business that specializes in "recreational ranching."
Western United States and Canada
In an article on Ranch Recreation (Tronstad, 1995), I found that Wyoming has an established ranch B&B industry with over 60 registered in the 1994 Wyoming Homestay and Outdoor Adventures guide. The state has also set its own standards for what constitutes a B&B. The state describes it as "a private home which is used to provide temporary accommodations for a charge to the public with not more than four lodging units or not more than a daily average of eight persons per night during a thirty day period." A minimum of 160 acres is needed to qualify for a ranch recreation enterprise. These are different from "dude ranches," and are businesses that earn their living growing crops or livestock. One rancher, Peggy Monzingo of Benson, Arizona, begin an operation to educate the public on public land issues: "Ranchers need to do their part in educating the public first hand and correctly since so many are misinformed."
Agritourism is gaining momentum across Canada, particularly in British Columbia and Ontario. Agriculture and horse ranch vacations are actively promoted through travel literature and the Internet. There is a growing interest in this tourism strategy in Nova Scotia, which led the government to call for a plan for the province. The report, An Agri-tourism Strategy for Nova Scotia (Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, 1996), can be obtained via the Internet. The address is provided in a sample website listing located in Appendix E.
There is no existing group that organizes farm B&B experiences in California, though I believe it is a wide open market with great potential based on the successes witnessed in New England and Britain. I spoke with Norma St. John-Verdini, staff member at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), which published the now defunct California Farm Fresh Directory and currently publishes the National Organic Directory. She confirmed that CAFF had no section or listings for farm tours or farm accommodations and suggested I talk with county Cooperative Extension offices. I corresponded with all the small farm advisors in California and the Small Farm Center at UC Davis to see if they knew of any organizations or farm B&Bs in their counties. Eight counties responded.
In Plumas County, Barbara Scott and her family run the New England Ranch. As Barbara says it, "We love people and horses so the B&B is an easy fit for us." The Scotts run cows and horses on their property in rural Quincy. They just started to board horses after guests encouraged them to "remodel the old barn for boarding their horses." They advertise via word of mouth, local newspapers, tack shops and Ride magazine. Their customer base is primarily from Northern California.
In Yolo County, the Farm Bureau office manager responded that "board members feed enough school teachers, visiting farmers and county administrators with BBQS, luncheons and overnighters that they might qualify."
In Glenn County, Mary Glaeseman operates The Inn at Shallow Creek Farm, a farmhouse surrounded by three acres of mandarin oranges which she sells directly from the farm. She was the first to start a B&B in the county and advised, "Since we were first, we walked the planning commission through the process and convinced them by working with them, rather than being adversarial. We used the same tactic with our neighbors, talking with them first about what our plans were and what we wanted to do." In talking with other innkeepers, she found that regulations governing B&Bs are treated differently in each county. In Glenn, the Inn is inspected by the county health department every six months. Much of her business comes from her listing in Peggy van Hulsteyn's The Birder's Guide to Bed and Breakfast,since she is situated near the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge Complex.
In Sonoma County, there are a number of wine-oriented B&Bs that market their location and name. Some actually adjoin vineyards. Fetzer, in Mendocino County, has recently established accommodations at the Fetzer Food and Wine Center, which ties together all marketing angles: the gardens, food and wine, and overnight accommodations. One Sebastopol area apple grower is considering adding a farm B&B.
Mario Moratorio is the former El Dorado County farm advisor and an advisor to the El Dorado County Farm Trails. He provided me with the farm trails ranch and recreation guide that includes several farm and recreational tourism accommodations in this foothill region. Five ranch and lodging sites are listed in the farm trails, with emphasis on the ghost town and mining experience. Much of this excellent promotional material is the outgrowth of a Tourism Strategic Plan (SMG Associates, 1991) prepared for the county that encourages pairing agriculture with tourism.
Agritourism Activities to Consider
The following recommendations are made with regard to maximizing some of the agritourism opportunities described in this report.
1. Complete the zoning revision process that will allow Farm B&Bs to exist in A-60 zoning in Marin County. Also complete farm stands zoning revisions. Outcome: will make farm diversification more feasible.
2. Organize and hold at least one direct marketing workshop including agritourism in West Marin; hold a second workshop for Sonoma County entrepreneurs. Outcome: will make "how to" information on different types of farm direct marketing available as well as facilitating participant interaction and ideas exchange.
Encourage niche marketing tied to agritourism experience: farm walks, farm chores and activities, birding or wildlife watching on the farm; biking from farm to farm.
3. Develop an agritourism marketing brochure and accompanying website for a variety of organizations, producers and their products, accommodations, events, and places in Marin. Tie K- 12 education into this site by coordinating with Marin County Office of Education sites for teachers, and link with Visitors Bureau website. Outcome: will develop Marin as a destination for a range of agricultural related activities for recreation and education and encourage a diversity of groups to work together cooperatively.
Note: There are many types of "farm trails" marketing and promotional programs. They can be as simple as the Cayuga County Finger Lakes Region Farm Trails and Rural Heritage Map, published by the local Cooperative Extension office and Tourist Board, which lists farm attractions by farmers wishing to be in the promotional brochure. Alternatively, they can be more complex, such as the Sonoma County Farm Trails organization. Founded in 1972, this organization is a 96 member driven organization with an office, professional staff and board of directors.
4. Encourage Point Reyes National Seashore staff to incorporate more farming information into educational aspects of their visitor services. For example, instructions on travel to the park using public transportation, and staying in a local accommodation or on a farm could be included. Outcome: Park incorporates important historical and cultural aspects of its surroundings and builds cooperative bridges with agricultural community.
5. Ensure that agritourism is represented on the countywide tourism advisory committee and that more coordination is developed between all aspects of the tourism market in Marin. Include a Farms section in next Marin Visitors Magazine. Outcome: Farming and ranching as an important and viable lifestyle will be incorporated into the range of activities and offerings for visitors.
6. Fund a multi-year farming diversification project to continue efforts begun at the Agriculture Summit in 1997. Outcome: Marin agriculture will continue to grow stronger as it becomes more diverse.
Implications for Sonoma County
Within its 1,600 square miles, Sonoma County is blessed with prime agricultural soils for growing everything from world class wine to fruits, berries and specialty vegetables. From farmers' markets to the consumer direct Farm Trails organization, and the highly successful Select Sonoma County agricultural marketing program, this county provides successful organizational models that have been adapted nationwide.
During the Sonoma County Agriculture Summit held in February, 1996, farm and winery representatives continued to cite the need to revise zoning ordinances in agricultural districts to allow agriculturists greater freedom and ability to make a living, to diversify their operations, and to provide more tourist based services and goods. This lead the county to begin revising the ordinances which address food service, retail sales, and special events. The agricultural industry is diversifying, as vintners and farmers search for new ways to promote their products and boost their incomes from tourism (Appel, 1997).
The Sonoma County Economic Vitality Partnership selected tourism and agriculture as two of the most important economic development sectors in the county at its conference held in October, 1997, and is working to coordinate these two industries with the development of an agricultural marketer clearinghouse. A strategic plan for tourism is also being developed. This plan will result in an organizational blueprint for uniting the county's tourism agencies, and will show how tourism can be maximized in the county and the region at large.
Generally, Sonoma County is mature in its development of tourist accommodations and activities related to farming or winemaking. Opportunities do exist for other farm sectors that have been slow to incorporate tourism for new farm income. Not all farming sectors in Sonoma can or desire to convert to grape growing. These farm sectors, mainly coastal dairy, livestock and apple farms and ranches, may benefit from workshops on this topic.
Financial and Organizational Resources
This was not a consultant based economic study but were observations gained from meeting and spending time with farmers who have chosen, primarily for financial or other lifestyle reasons, to diversify into some form of agritourism venture. The local community and its welfare should be the primary objective for development of any kind of agritourism or marketing activities with the goal of ensuring that the area remains economically prosperous.
Due to limited technical resources available to agriculture in Marin, I plan to apply to the Marin Community Foundation for a multi-year farm diversification grant to aid in further expansion and development of this area. Key to a successful project will be hiring a staff person or persons who can assist farms in planning and developing a farm venture. The project could include business start ups as well as new venture development on existing farm operations.
Business development would focus on value added products such as farmstead cheeses, specialty vegetables, herbs, site and marketing assistance in farm kitchens, brand name development, and other farm diversification or agritourism ventures.
The grant could be modeled after a similar effort called Cumbria Farm Link in England where a farm business is offered a free confidential business and environmental review after two site visits, followed by a practical report of the farm business and an action plan to help farmers with next steps. The recommendations may go no further, or they may continue with the preparation of a detailed business plan that is partially grant aided, with the balance paid by the recipient.
Other matching funds and resources include the Small Business Development Center staff housed at Santa Rosa Junior College. This organization services the North Bay region. Grant funds may be available from the Sustainable Agriculture program and/or rural development funds from the California Communities Program, both at UC Davis. An advisory committee would be formed to steer the project and assist in the selection of projects if the grant proposal is funded.
Editor's note: This ends the formal text. The bibliography and appendices follow on the remaining pages.
Appel, T. (1997, July 28). Growers Struggle for Balance in Promoting Agriculture. The Press Democrat pp. Al, A2.
Beall, G. (1996, May). Down on the (Vacation) Farm, Small Farm Center News. Cooperative Extension-UC Davis.
Bender, N. (1996). Agricultural Tourism: Opportunities for Farmers and Rural Communities, Northeastern Connecticut Visitors District, Putnam, CT.
Binding, H. (I 993). Filexmoor: Filex 7: Farming on Exmoor. Exmoor National Park Authority. Exmoor House, Dulverton, Somerset, England TA22 9HL.
Bingham, H. (1989). Choices For Farmers, GCSE Resource Guide 3, Lake District national Park Visitor Services, Brockhole, Windermere, Cumbria, England, LA23 ILJ.
Bowers, D. (1996, July). Nation's Most Progressive Programs Ranked, Farmland Preservation Report, 6, t-2. Bowers Publishing, MD.
California Trade and Commerce Agency. (1995). Domestic Travel to California, 1995 Executive Summary, Sacramento, CA.
California Trade and Commerce Agency. (1996, May). California Travel Impacts By County, 1991-1994, Division of Tourism, Sacramento, CA.
Cox, L. J., Fox, M., Bowen, R. L. (1994). Does Agriculture Destroy Tourism? Annals of Tourism Research, 210-213.
Denman, R. and Denman J. (1993). The Farm Tourism Market: A Market Study of Farm Tourism in England, Herefordshire, UK: The Tourism Company.
Department Of Agriculture and Marketing. ( 1996). An Agri-tourism Strategy for Nova Scotia, KPMG Management Consulting, Province of Nova Scotia.
Dunn, K. L. (1997). Seaway Trail Agri-Touring. Journey Magazine: 1997-98. Seaway Trail, Inc., NY.
Eber, C. (1997, June). A Restored Gem Opens its Doors to Cyclists. Santa Rosa Cycling Club Newsletter, POB 11761, Santa Rosa, CA.
Farm Holiday Bureau. (1996). Stay on a Farm, Norwich, England: Jarrod Publishing.
Hilchey, D. (1993). Agritourism in New York State. Farming Alternatives Program, Department of Rural Sociology, Cornell University.
Lauer, G. (I 997, May 18). Taxes for Tourism. The Press Democrat, pp. El.
Parker, K. (1996), Pride in Place: A Report on a 1995 Churchill fellowship Study of Countryside Conservation Linked to Rural Economic Development in Austria and France. (Available from the Peak District National Park, Aldem House, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England.)
Peak District Environmental Education Service. (1997). Fact Sheet 6: Farming in the Peak District National Park [Brochure]. Castleton, Derbyshire, England DE45 1AE.
Pleumarom, A. (I 993, December II). Eco-tourism: A cover for "eco-terrorism"?. The Nation.
Proceedings from the Marin Agriculture Summit. (1997). Novato, CA: University of California Cooperative Extension.
Strategic Marketing Group. (1991). El Dorado County Tourism Strategic Plan, Prepared for El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
Tronstad R. (1995). Ranch Recreation and Public Education Opportunities. Paper given at National Direct Marketing Conference, NY.
University of Exeter Agricultural Unit. (I 99 1). Patterns, Performance and Prospects in Farm Diversification.
Valliere W. (1996). Summer/Fall Visitor Inquiry Study. Vermont Tourism Data Center University of Vermont.
Van Hulsteyn, Peggy (1993). The Birders Guide to Bed and Breakfast. United States and Canada, John Muir Publications, NM.
Appendix A: Local Interview Listing
Appendix B: Britain and Ireland Interview Listing
Appendix C: National Park Area Description
Appendix D: New England Interview Listing
Appendix E: Related Websites
Appendix F: Resource Materials
Appendix G: List of Abbreviations
The following individuals were interviewed in the winter/spring 1996-97 or fall, 1997.
Interview 1. Bob Bemer, MALT Executive Director
Interviews 2. and 3. Sally and Michael Gale, Chileno Valley Ranch
Interviews 4. and 5. Sharon and Steve Doughty, Point Reyes Station Dairy and Vineyards
Interview 6. James Stark, Community Activist, Point Reyes Station
Interviews 7. and 8. Roy Erickson and Janeann Erickson, Erickson Ranch
Interview 9. Mark Reisenfeld, Community Development Agency Director, Marin County
Interview 10. Carol Williams, Senior Planner, Community Development Agency, Marin County
Interview 11. Darlene Mann, Ranch Owner, Jenner Coast Area, Sonoma County
Interview 12. Joanie Coover, Farm Stays, Sebastopol Style, Sonoma County
Interview 13. Bruce Campbell, Vintage Herbs, Sonoma County
Interview 14. Barbara Scott, New England Ranch, Quincy
Interview 15. Mary Glaeseman, The Inn at Shallow Creek Farm, Orland
Appendix B: Britain and Ireland Interview Listing
The following individuals were interviewed between May 22 and July 20, 1997.
Exmoor National Park Area
Interview 1. Diana Brewer, Woodadvent Farm
Interviews 2. to 5. The Edwards Family: John, Jackie, Philip, Rosamund and Oliver, Westermill Farm
Interview 6. Kathy Stevens, Cloutsham Farms
Interview 7. Ann Durban, Exmoor Country Farm Holiday Group Secretary
Interview 8. Nicola Oliver, Recreation and Access Officer, Exmoor National Park
Interview 9. Bill Gurnett, Chief Ranger, Exmoor National Park
Interview 10. Kate Heightman, Farm Liaison Officer, Exmoor National Park
Peak District National Park Area
Interviews 11. and 12. Sue and Terry Prince, Beechenhill Farm
Interview 13. Ken Parker, Conservation Officer, Peak District National Park
Interviews 14. to 16. The Marsden Family: Jane, John and Jonathan, Thorp Farm
Interview 17. Sue Marriott, Rural Development and Employment Specialist, Peak District Producers Association Secretary
Interview 18. Rebecca Penny, Farm Advisor, Farm and Countryside Service
Interviews 19. and 20. Arthur and Sandi Flower, Biggin Grange
Interview 21. Jane Chapman, Senior Farm and Countryside Advisor
Interview 22. Peter Davey, Farm Tourism Area Manager, Peak District National Park
Interviews 23. and 24. Robert and Teresa Flower, Gateham Grange Cottage
Interview 25. Lisa Cooke, Camping Barn Coordinator, Peak District National Park
Interview 26. Matthew Croney, Land Agent, North Lees Farm
Interview 27. Mrs. Butterworth, Castle Farm, B&B and Camping Barn Operator
Lake District National Park Area
Interviews 28. and 29. Edward and Karen Philips
Interview 30. Val Edmundson, Area Ranger for Lake District National Park, Local farmer
Interview 31. Ann Graves, Low Skelgill Farm
Interview 32. Bob Cartwright, Head of Park Management, Kendal, Lake District National Park
Interview 33. Nicki Wood, Camping Barn Manager, Kendal, Lake District National Park
Interview 34. Nancy Tweddell, Manager, Business Link Rural Cumbria
Interview 35. Michael Walker, Camping Barn Booking Coordinator, Keswick Centre, Lake District National Park
Interview 36. Students from University of Edinburgh on holiday in Lakes District; staying in various camping barns.
Interview 37. Christine Kenyon, Environmental Education Coordinator, Brockhole Center, Windermere
Interview 38. Eagles Nest Barn, Low Grove Farm, Milbeck, Keswick
Interview 39. Ian Clemmett, Ranger/East Area, Lake District National Park
Other Areas of Britain and Ireland
Interviews 40. and 41. Cynthia and David Jennings, Pant Mawr Farm, Rosebush, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Interviews 42. and 43. Viv and Marilyn Salmon, Trepant Farm, Pembrokeshire National Park, Wales
Interview 44. Mrs. Anne Meadows, Home Farm. Bredons Norton, Tewkesbury
Interviews 45. and 46. John and Sheila Shell, Wiltonburn Farm, Roxburghsire, Scotland
Interview 47. Mrs. Katrina Gray, Wold Cottage, Wold Newton, adj. to North York Moors National Park
Interviews 48. and 49. Joan and Ted Best, Cwm Hwylfod Farm, North Wales
Interviews 50. and 5 1. Eamon and Geraldine Nee, Canal Stage Farm, Recess, County Galway, Ireland
Interview 52. Mary DeVane, DeVane Farmhouse, Dingle, County Clare, Ireland
Interview 53. Mrs. Dorothy Jennings, Desert Farmhouse, Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland
Interview 54. Bema Kelly, Devondell, Galway City, County Galway, Ireland
Appendix C.- National Park Area Description
All farmers have access to the farm and conservation grant schemes available from the government and the EC. From the start of World War II, the national agricultural policy has been committed to food production. However, in the past ten years a change in attitude has occurred. Within the EC, overproduction of food and an increasing concern for the environment has made conservation a more important objective. Until the 1980s, Ministry of Agriculture grant schemes were aimed only at increasing food production. Now grant schemes focus on conservation aspects.
The Farm and Conservation Scheme was set up by MAFF in 1989 and grants are available for land improvement and energy saving; 25% in LFAs and 15% elsewhere, waste handling facilities 50%, and environmental and countryside work 35-50%.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 allows National Park authorities to make voluntary management agreements with farmers and landowners to encourage conservation aims. Farmers receive compensatory payments to offset practices not put into place that would be profitable but potentially economically harmful.
The Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) were introduced nationally in 1986 to help protect some of the most beautiful parts of the countryside; 52% of the Peak area falls within this designation. Guidelines provided encourage farmers and landowners to manage their land in ways which conserve and enhance the landscape, wildlife and historic features. A ten year agreement is linked to annual payments. An example would be stock exclusionary fencing near eroded areas or hedgegrow improvement and maintenance for wildlife habitat and animal fencing.
Farming on Exmoor
Most of Exmoor is privately owned by farmers, although 10% belongs to the National Trust and 6.8% to the park. More than 500,000 sheep are kept on Exmoor's 600 farms and 56% of the land is actively farmed (Binding, 1993). This is hill farming country. There are beef and dairy farms, and a small portion of the Vale of Porlock where barley is grown. Sheep and other animals have grazed this area for more than 3,000 years. By consuming heather and moorland grasses, as well as tree seedlings, sheep are responsible for the scenery found there today. Note: the park authorities are managing the park for its heather moors which would naturally be succeeded by broadleaf forest over time. Exmoor winters are cold and wet and animals are bred to withstand this frosty climate.
Photo:United Kingdom coastline.
Most hill farms have access to a combination of moorland for grazing, enclosed pasture and improved grazings where silage, hay and root crops for winter feed can be grown. Both sheep and cattle are managed traditionally, with lambing and calving in the spring, when the weather is improving and grass is starting to grow. Fat lambs and weaned calves are sold in the autumn or kept through until spring of the following year. There are five weekly markets in the area for animal sales.
Many farmers supplement their incomes by providing accommodations to visitors since income has dropped from traditional farming due to changed agricultural policies. This is a very rural area with only 10,000 people living in towns and villages and the rest on farms. Farming changes and high house prices are forcing young people to move away, while newcomers are buying second or retirement homes in the national park.
Farms have raised sheep and cattle for literally thousands of years since Neolithic people raised stock and grew barley, wheat and beans (3500 BC). The woodlands were cleared by the Saxons and continued after the Norman conquest in 1066 leading to the open landscape one equates with England and Ireland. Between 1760 and 1830, enclosures produced geometric shaped fields beyond settlements with miles of stone walls. This type of landscape management, together with improved grass quality, allowed more intensive sheep farming to take place. The area is principally used for grazing of sheep, beef and dairy cattle. A grain crop is cut to provide hay and silage for livestock.
Typical farm inputs include labor, fertilizer and other supplier costs and subsidies and grants from the government and the E U. Outputs include wool sold to the local marketing board, milk to dairy processors, animals sold at local weekly markets, and on farm B&Bs, farm shops or farm tours.
All of the Peak District National Park is classified as a LFA. This means that farmers qualify for higher rates of grants than those in lowland areas and receive "headage" payments for breeding ewes and suckler cows. The payments make it possible for farming communities to continue in these less favoured areas.
During the 1980s, the agricultural output of the Peak Park increased, especially sheep production. There has been an increase in large farms (over 200 acres) and small farms (less than 50 acres) with corresponding decreases in medium sized farms (Peak District Environmental Education Service, 1997). Dairy farms have decreased and other livestock (sheep and cattle) production have increased. Because of surplus milk production in the EC, milk quotas were introduced in 1984 and involved a reduction in the volume of milk that could be produced based on 1983 figures. This meant farmers could no longer increase their dairy herd but had to look for other ways of increasing their income. Milk quotas are bought and sold, with profitable farmers buying more quota from farmers reducing their herd or going out of business. The BSE crisis has only exacerbated a difficult situation for farmers.
Hill Farming in the Lake District
Due to the climate, altitude and soil, the type of farming is limited to the rearing of hardy sheep and cattle, which are sold to lowland farmers who prepare them for market. There were approximately 600,000 sheep and lambs and 67,000 cow/calves in the park boundaries in 1986 (Bingham, 1989). There has been an increase in the numbers of sheep raised coupled with a rise in the grants received for sheep farming. This increase has raised fears that quotas would be imposed. In order to bring in extra income, many farms have diversified.
Many of these businesses rely on the tourist industry and include B&Bs, self catering cottages, pony trekking, farm visits for school groups, and camping and caravan sites. Some farmers are selling and moving away. These are mostly the smaller, less profitable farms sold separately for residential or holiday use and the land is sold to another farmer.
Photo 1: Arthur Flower, Ellen Rilla, and Rebecca Penny.
Photo 2: Hill farming in the Lake District.
Appendix D: New England Interview Listing
The following individuals were interviewed between September 26 and October 12, 1997.
Interview 1. Norm Bender, Senior Extension Educator, Economic Development, University of Connecticut, Norwich Extension Center, New London
Interview 2. Gail Rogers, Roseledge Farm B&B, Preston
Interviews 3. and 4. Judy & Bob Gasperino, Chuck Hill Dairy Farm, Preston
Interview 5. Harold Minor, Clyde's Cider Mill, Old Mystic
Interviews 6. and 7. Al & Amanda Amundsen, Wright's Mill Farm, Canterbury
Interviews 8. and 9. Sandy & Ernie Staebner, Blue Slope Farm, Franklin
Interview 10. Suzanne Sankow, Beaverbrook Farm, Lyme
Interview 11. Nora Strong, Fitch Claremont Vineyard and Inn, Bozrah
Interview 12. Ginny Corttis, Corttis Farm Inn, No. Grosvenordale
Interview 13. Bob Townsend, Community Development Specialist, University of Vermont Extension, Brattleboro
Interview 14. Carlene Smith, Retreat Farm, Brattleboro
Interview 15. Carl and Jill Adams, Adams Farm, Wilmington
Interview 16. Betsy Luce, Sugarbush Farms, Woodstock
Interview 17. Roger Clapp, Deputy Commissioner-Agricultural Development, Vermont Department of Agriculture
Interview 18. Varna Ramaswamy, Research Data Specialist, Vermont Tourism Data Center, Burlington
Interviews 19. and 20. Frankie & Marybeth Whitten, Skunk Hollow Farm, Greensboro
Interview 21. Beth Kennett, Liberty Hill Farm, Rochester
Interviews 22. and 23. Pam & Ray Allenholm, Allenholm Orchards B&B, South Hero
Interview 24. David Reville, Association Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wayne County
Interview 25. Alice Sprout, Home Economics Agent, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wayne County
Interview 26. Diane Kuehn, Coastal Tourism Specialist, New York Sea Grant
Interview 27. Doug Ververs, Small Business Management Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oswego Co.
Interview 28. Teresa Mitchell, Executive Director, New York State Seaway Trail
Interview 29. Nancy Robbins, Old McDonald's Farm
Interview 30. Duncan Hilchey, Agriculture Development Specialist, Farming Alternatives Program, Cornell University
Appendix E: Related Websites
Recent surveys indicate that 57% of computer users also use the Internet.
The following listing includes helpful web page and e-mail addresses for those interested in pursuing a variety of niches in agritourism.
North Bay Tourism Information
General Tourism Information
Other National Agritourism Sites
Appendix F: Resource Materials
Considerations in Enterprise Selection(1990). Family Farm Series ANRPO11, Small Farm Center, University of California, Davis.
Dawson, C. (1988). Marketing the Small Lodging Business, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Bulletin 212. Ithaca, NY II pp.
Dawson, C., Brown S. D., Brown T. L. (1996). Bed and Breakfast Lodging Operations: A Business Planning Guide for New York State. New York State Small Business Development Center: Watertown, NY 60 pp.
Dickerman, P. (I 995). Farm, Ranch, and Country, Vacations in America, Adventure Guides, 7550 East McDonald Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.
Farming Alternatives: A Guide to Evaluating the Feasibility of New Farm Based Enterprises (1991). Small Farm Series NRAES-32, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Gahring, S., Niemeyer, S., Reilly, R., Stout, J. (1992). Marketing Crafts and Other Products to Tourists. North Central Regional Extension Publication 445, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Gibson, E. (1994). Sell What You Grow! The Grower's Guide to Successful Produce Marketing. New World Publishing, Placerville, CA.
How to Establish and Operate a Roadside Stand (1990). Family Farm Series ANRP 010, Small Farm Center, University of California, Davis.
IRS National Office Technical Advice Memorandum "Bed & Breakfast" (April 2, 1987).
Kuehn, D. (1995). New York's 1993 Bed and Breakfast and Inn Industry, New York Sea Grant, SUNY College at Oswego, NY 10 pp.
Olson, W. H., Alexander, B. and Parliament C. (1989). Starting a Bed and Breakfast or Farm Vacation Business. Minnesota Extension Service Tourism Center, St. Paul, MN. 10 pp.
Rural Information Center Publication Series, No. 12 (199 1). Promoting Tourism in Rural America. United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD. 33 pp.
Rural Information Center Publication Series, No. 18 (1992). Farm Holidays and Ranch Vacations, United States Department. of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD. 8 pp.
Small Farm Handbook (1994). Small Farm Program, SFPOO1, University of California, Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Oakland, CA.
Tourism USA- Guidelines for Tourism Development, University of Missouri-Columbia. Copies available from: U.S. Travel & Tourism Administration, Dept. of Commerce, H1862, Wash., D.C. 20230.
Appendix F: Resource Materials
Organizations and Associations
Local and StateMarin County Convention and Visitor's Bureau
Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94903
415/472-7470Sonoma County Convention and Visitor's Bureau
5000 Roberts Lake Road
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
707/586-8100California Trade and Commerce Agency
801 K St., Suite 1600
Sacramento, CA 95814
NationalThe Ecotourism Society
RO. Box 755
N. Bennington, VT 05257
802/447-2121U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration
U.S. Dept. of Commerce
14th & Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20230
202/377-4752Travel Industry Association of America
U.S. Travel Data Center
I 1 00 New York Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005-3934
Appendix G: List of Abbreviations
- Bed and Breakfast Inn
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
- Countryside Landowners Association
- European Community
- Environmentally Sensitive Area
- European Union
- Farm Holiday Group/Farm Holiday Bureau
- Less Favoured Area
- Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry
- Marin Agricultural Land Trust
- National Farmers Union
- National Park
- Scientifically Sensitive Site of Interest
- United Kingdom
A Family Farm Series Publication
Small Farm Center
University of California
The University of California prohibits discrimination against or harassment of any person employed by or seeking employment with the University on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer-related or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran (special disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran or any other veteran who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized. University policy is intended to be consistent with provisions of applicable state and federal laws. Inquiries regarding the University's nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the Affirmative Action Director, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, 1111 Franklin St., 6th Floor, Oakland, CA. 94607-5200. (510) 987-0096.