Fall usually brings corn mazes, hayrides, pick-your-own pumpkins and more ways to experience North Carolina farms, but the pandemic adds uncertainty for 2020. In this episode of Farms, Food and You — a podcast from NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — learn more about how industry leaders and farmers are planning for the fall season and about a new app that will help you better connect with what’s in store.
NC State Extension’s tourism portal is chockfull 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.
NCDA&CS’ site and www.visitncfarmstoday.com have links to the Visit NC Farms app and to sign up for the Monday Marketing Message, which serves up information to help farmers gain new visits, enhance farm experience and increase sales and overall farm value.
Another valuable online resource for agritourism farmers is the North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association website. Among the association’s goals: sharing best practices, networking, finding answers to challenges, celebrating successes and advocating for needed resources.
Another site, www.countonmenc.org, gives individuals and businesses the chance to learn more and get involved with the state’s Count on Me campaign. It includes information on the 3 Ws — wearing masks, washing hands and staying 6 feet from others when waiting—as well as other steps patrons can take to protect themselves and others. In addition, the site includes pandemic-related training modules and other information for businesses, including agribusinesses.
Annie Baggett serves as agritourism marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She helps farmers develop and promote their agritourism activities and works to elevate the agritourism industry to key stakeholders across the state as a major revenue stream for farm diversification.
Carla Barbieri is a professor and extension specialist with North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. She got interested in tourism while she was studying forestry as a graduate student in Peru, then dove deeper into the topic of agritourism while she was a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. She joined NC State’s faculty in 2012.
Martha Mobley is a North Carolina Cooperative Extension agricultural agent in Franklin County. She grew up on a farm, raising and selling pumpkins to raise money for college. Today, she owns Meadow Lane Farm and hosts an annual agritourism event, Dinner in the Meadow, which celebrates local foods and raises scholarship funds for farmers. Because of COVID-19, the event has been cancelled for 2020.
Tina Gross farms with her husband, John, and their four children at Gross Farms in Lee County, North Carolina. A part-time community college instructor, Gross works full-time on the family farm, handling bookkeeping, public relations, marketing, community outreach and more. In the North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association, she serves as immediate past president, having served for three years as president.