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TDA Continues to “Cultivate Farm Revenue” At Agritourism Conference

 

The Tennessee Department of AgricultureNashville, TN – The 2011 “Tennessee Agritourism: Cultivating Farm Revenue” conference is scheduled for January 12th-13th at Pickwick Landing State Park.

“Agritourism is the term for the part of agriculture that involves inviting the public right onto the farm for activities or farm products,” says Pamela Bartholomew, agritourism coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “That could include anything from an orchard or berry patch to a dairy or corn maze and pumpkin patch. This concept has really blossomed in Tennessee over the last decade, and the focus of our annual conferences just keeps changing with the times.”

“Who would have thought, 10 years ago, that every farm would have its own website?” says Bartholomew. “Facebook didn’t even exist until 2004. And now our farms have Facebook ‘fans’. Farms ‘tweet’ about what’s ready to be harvested on their farms that day to their followers’.”

“The technologies and possibilities for agritourism farmers are taking such rapid leaps we need a conference every year to help farms keep up,” says the agritourism coordinator. “When we started this initiative, we brought in experts to talk about getting liability insurance, and how to present yourself on camera if a television reporter came out to the farm.

“Now we have contests for best website design and breakout sessions about using Twitter and Facebook to keep bringing customers back. Farms are so much more in control of their own marketing, now. They don’t have to wait for a television crew to agree to come out for a live remote. Now farms are actively coming to customers, showing off their farms, through cell phones and computers.”

Those who register for the conference by January 4th, 2011 will pay a $100.00 per person registration fee. All registrations processed after that date will be $150.00 per person. The registration fee includes all meals, breaks, banquet, sessions and materials. Convenient online registration is available at http://bit.ly/TnAgritourismConf. Anyone who wishes to register by phone can call UT Conferences at 865-974-0280.

Pickwick Landing State Park is 12 miles south of Savannah, Tennessee in Hardin County. To reserve rooms at the park, call 800-250-8615 or 731-689-3135. The rates per night are $68.00 plus tax for inn rooms and $104.00 plus tax for cabins. Additional information about Pickwick Landing State Park is available online at http://state.tn.us/environment/partks/PickwickLanding/.

“We’ll have these kinds of educational sessions about emerging technologies that our farm fun operators have come to rely on, but we also add new layers of activities based on increasing levels of experience,” says Bartholomew. “We have agritourism operators who are old hands at this, now. We’ll be bringing in experts to teach as we always have, but our own farmers teach each other, too.”

This is the sixth statewide agritourism conference conducted by the Tennessee Agritourism Initiative, a network of state and agriculture related agencies that actively partner to build farm income in the state. Initiative partners include the state’s departments of Agriculture, Tourist Development and Economic and Community Development; the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation; USDA Rural Development; the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture; UT Extension; and the Tennessee Agritourism Association.

Pick Tennessee ProductsFor more information about Tennessee’s agritourism farms, visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development website at www.picktnproducts.org. Click on “Farmer and Producer Resources” Red Barn to access online registration from www.picktnproducts.org.


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