Agritourism in North Carolina
More than just field trips and family fun, agritourism educates the public and preserves rural heritage
Agritourism – a hybrid of agriculture and tourism – refers to activities or events that take place on working farms for the enjoyment and education of the public.
Farmers increasingly rely on agritourism to support the family farm and strengthen their connection with the community by creating unique, memorable experiences for visitors throughout the year. Ultimately, agritourism is a way to immerse yourself in the beauty and splendor of North Carolina agriculture.
There are more than 1,000 farms that offer agritourism activities across North Carolina
Whether you indulge in one of our state’s wineries or craft breweries; enjoy a fun fall outing with corn mazes, hay rides and pumpkin patches; engage in a pick-your-own adventure for local foods like apples, berries and even Christmas trees; or culminate a different kind of engagement with an on-the-farm wedding, agritourism in North Carolina offers something for everyone. We see you goat yoga gurus out there too!
While the recreational perks often play a central role for visitors, agritourism is also a vital tool for educating the public about agriculture, preserving treasured farmland, and passing along rural heritage and traditions for future generations, according to Carla Barbieri, an agritourism specialist with NC State Extension.
We spent some time with Carla to learn more about North Carolina’s agritourism offerings and the impact they make for farm families. Check out our latest On the Farm feature to find out how you can experience the best of North Carolina agriculture for yourself!
This segment was developed in conjunction with the Farms, Food and You podcast. Listen to Agritourism: Heading Out to the Farm to learn more about North Carolina agritourism and how industry leaders and farmers are planning for the fall season!
Farm Visit Tips
Fall usually means corn mazes, pumpkin patches, pick-your-own produce and more ways to experience North Carolina farms, but things may look a little different this year because of COVID-19 and social distancing. Nonetheless, many farms are still holding modified events and adopting safety measures to ensure a fun, safe family outing on the farm.
Carla Barbieri recommends following all safety guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. She also offers tips in this episode of the Farms, Food and You podcast to ensure an enjoyable visit to a farm — find a few pointers below:
- Go open-minded. Agriculture may be a different environment than we’re used to right now, but farmers are doing everything they can to maximize your experience.
- Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty!
- Be respectful of any guidelines at the farm. If they ask you not to go to a certain plot, please don’t go there. It’s not a theme park or a staged production, it’s a real working farm.
- Ask questions! One of the wonderful things about agritourism is that farmers like engaging with the public. If you ask a question, the farmer will take the time to respond.
More Agritourism Resources
- Visit NC Farms — this free app provides easy access to farms, fisheries, local food and outdoor experiences, including information about North Carolina agritourism operations.
- Right now, the app covers about a third of the state, including areas in the mountains, Piedmont and coastal plain. Other areas are being added moving forward.
- North Carolina Agritourism Resources — find farm experiences across the state for tours, pick-your-own, holiday activities, weddings and more.
- N.C. State Fair — the annual fair that we all know and love may have been canceled in 2020, but there are still activities taking place, including opportunities to enjoy your favorite “fair food”!
- NC State Extension Tourism — explore a wealth of information ranging from news about virtual farm tours to resources for agribusinesses responding to COVID-19. You can also see the latest tweets from @NCExtTourism.
- North Carolina Women in Agritourism — discover the impact that women farmers are making through their agritourism businesses in North Carolina in this video series from NC State.