Northern Virginia Agritourism Industry Booming

With farmers across the country still reeling from a devastating string of bad weather and with many unsure about the future of federal farm subsidies, many have embraced innovative ways to make money in an uncertain time. In northern Virginia, agritourism has taken off, offering farmers new sources of revenue and reconnecting consumers with farm production.
While farm profits may still be high nationally, many farms are still struggling due to bouts of severe weather, labor shortages, and uncertainty regarding future farm supports In particular, the lack of available farmworkers has forced many farmers to cut back their planting, shrinking their harvests and dipping into their bottom lines.
One way that farmers have to offset these losses is agritourism. Agritourism is a business model that embraces a wide variety of activities. It is broadly understood to be anything that draws visitors to local farms and ranches. Learning about wine and cheese production, apple picking in local orchards, and wandering through seasonal corn mazes are all popular forms of agritourism in the US.
In northern Virginia, as the population grows, more and more farmers are tapping into these niche markets. Some farmers make as much as one-third of their income from agritourism.
“Growing a basic commodity, you’re subject to the market ups and downs,” said one northern Virginia farmer. “Certainly it’s a great opportunity to bring people onto the farm and grow a niche product that has more of a value to it.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer