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Skaggs: Agritourism workshop gives farmers tools, tips
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Anyone associated with farming and agribusiness certainly knows of the many struggles faced by farmers and ranchers. For years, agriculture operations across the country have sought out ways to diversify and bring in additional income. Over the last decade, farms, large and small, have delved into the realm or entertainment or hospitality, often refer to as “agritourism.”

Such agritourism businesses first took root in the Northeast with such operations as corn mazes and you-pick fruit and vegetables. In recent years, such ventures have been sprouting all over the Southeast, including several in Georgia.

In Northeast Georgia alone, myriad agritourism business are operating, including corn mazes, farm tours, wineries, farm and nature preserves, you-pick fruits and vegetables, hunting and fishing preserves, and bed and breakfast farms.

In an effort to help farmers and landowners interested in such a venture, the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development is playing host to “Expanding the Business Side of Agritourism” Nov. 5-6 at the Dillard House in Rabun County.

The program features a number of governmental and industry experts specializing in the agritourism including:
Kent Wolfe, UGA Agricultural Economist, will teach sessions on “Building an Effective, Affordable Website” and “How to Use Market-Maker and Georgia Made/Georgia Grown Products Direct Marketing Websites.”

Drew Echols, farm manager and agritourism director at Jaemor Farms, will present “The Business Side of Agritourism.”
Food Ways Group will provide an education session titled “Making Marketing Magic in Agritourism.”

Scott Cagle of Safe & Sound Solutions and Cagle Dairy will provide information on the use of Social Media Marketing to expand agritourism’s audience.

Participants will have the opportunity to visit area farms and agritourism operations including Tiger Mountain Vineyards, Hillside Orchard, Sylvan Falls Mill, Persimmon Creek Vineyards and Goats on the Roof. In addition, experts will be on hand to discuss zoning requirements, taxes, labor issues, signage and insurance and risk management.

To register, visit the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Conference Office at www.caes.uga.edu/UNIT/ATHENS/events/events.html. For more information, contact Carla Wood at 706-583-0347.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988.

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