Top Ag Pit Stop

Top Agritourism Pit Stops for You to Make This Summer

Summertime is finally here and that means spending as much time outdoors as possible while the temperatures are mild enough. As you start looking for summer activities to keep your family active, agritourism is a way to spend time outdoors, while also learning about South Dakota’s leading industry.

According to the National Agricultural Law Center, agritourism is defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and processing with tourism to attract visitors to a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and educating the visitors.

We spoke with Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist and Jacey Ellsworth, Industry Outreach & Development Representative and Agritourism Manager for South Dakota Tourism about agritourism and its benefits. Below are their responses. 

Peggy Schlechter

What are the benefits of agritourism? 

Benefits to the farm and ranch operators include the opportunity to add an additional income stream that isn’t so dependent on the weather, drought, rain, or the up and down pricing of ag commodities. Adding an agritourism enterprise may allow a middle school or high school family member the opportunity to start a summer or part-time business on the farm or ranch. 

A son or daughter could add an enterprise to make enough income to come back to the family farm. A spouse might start an agritourism enterprise rather than working in town. An agritourism enterprise allows the farm, or ranch family, to tell their own, true story of agriculture and build relationships with consumers.

How have you seen South Dakota grow from agritourism?  

Currently, we are at the mid-point of Agritourism SD, a 2-year intensive educational program. During the first year, we have participants who have made current agritourism enterprises stronger, or those who are making plans to start an agritourism operation. South Dakota is a state that has continued to see increased visitor growth, and much of those visitors are headed to the Black Hills region.

In the future, I anticipate we will see more visitors throughout the entire state visiting our rural communities and the agritourism operations in that area. South Dakota is currently a popular hunting and fishing location but agritourism can add the family aspect.

What is your favorite part of South Dakota agritourism?  

My favorite part is the opportunity to share the story of the culture of South Dakota and the story of agriculture in our state.

What are the benefits of participating in agritourism from a consumer’s perspective?  

Not too long ago, everyone had grandparents or aunts and uncles who lived on a farm and ranch so nearly all kids had the opportunity to visit and explore a farm or ranch. That is no longer the case since only about 2% of Americans live on a farm/ranch.  But visiting an agritourism enterprise allows a consumer to still have those visits and learn about where their food, fiber, and other products come from.

They also have the opportunity to visit with those involved in agriculture and develop relationships that foster trust in the way the land and animals are cared for.  And nothing can beat that clean fresh air!

Jacey Ellsworth 

How have you seen agritourism impact tourism in South Dakota?

The Department of Tourism began focusing more intensely on agritourism in 2017 following a strategic planning process. During that process, South Dakota’s tourism industry stakeholders felt there was an opportunity for growth and they were ready to embark on that journey alongside the department. Agritourism encourages visitors to get off the beaten path to explore and support rural communities in South Dakota.

This can result in visitors extending their stay, increased impact of state and local tax revenues, and distribution visitors across the state. It also offers a unique visitor experience and gives agriculture producers an opportunity to connect and engage with the visitor. Agritourism is the perfect addition to a South Dakota vacation as it gives our visitors a unique and memerable experience in South Dakota.  

Do people reach out to you at South Dakota Tourism if they want to get into agritourism? Or how does someone get started in agritourism?

Starting an agritourism enterprise is just like starting any other business. If someone is interested in starting a business we encourage them to reach out and we can assist or help direct them to additional resources. The Department of Tourism can provide travel research and marketing assistance, as well as some agritourism business development guides.

We have developed a network of resource providers like SDSU Extension, U.S. Small Business Administration, South Dakota Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources, SD Value Added Ag Development Center, Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers of South Dakota, and more. These resources can assist with business planning, licensing, taxes, business structure and other start-up needs. 

When getting into agritourism, what are some things to keep in mind to have it be successful?

Agritourism is entering the hospitality business. It is not for everyone. You need to enjoy entertaining guests, have the time to devote to an additional business and be able to create a safe and inviting atmosphere for visitors at your operation.

We always recommend connecting with the local Chamber of Commerce and Regional Tourism Association (there are four regional tourism associations across the state) so they can help promote the business and be aware of the offering in their community or region.

It’s important to take the time and set up the business properly. Create and follow a solid business plan, have a sustainable and legal business structure, and ensure you have appropriate insurance, permits and licensing, and pricing.

Start by identifying what your main activity or draw to your operation will be, and you can continue to enhance the visitor experience in the future.  

 

Do you find that there are a lot of education opportunities within agritourism? If so, how can it be used to educate local South Dakotans about agriculture?

Most all agritourism experiences will have an education component. We certainly see opportunity for South Dakota citizens to educate themselves about agritourism as well, not just out-of-state visitors. There are so many consumer questions about where their food comes from and agritourism gives an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to share that story.

How do types of agritourism range? What can it all consist of?

There is a wide variety of agritourism offerings. From entertainment, education, lodging, meeting facilities, farm-stands, U-pick operations, outdoor experiences, or even an on-farm one day event, there is quite a range. It could be a dairy tour or a corn maze. Horseback riding or a farm-to-table dinner.

It may even be a museum about agriculture such as the Stockyards Ag Experience or Valley Queen Cheese Heritage Museum.

  

What are the best spots to hit in the summertime? 

Dry Creek Beef – Caputa

Farm Life Creamery – Ethan 

DX Ranch – Eagle Butte

Prairie Paradise Farms – Fort Pierre – do a one day on-farm event!

Hydeout Bed and Breakfast – Highmore – take a tour of their row crop farm operation!

Lakota Youth Development – Herreick

Good Earth Farm  (specialty crop farm) – Lennox

Cherry Rock Farms (specialty crop, pumpkin patch, farm stand) – Brandon

Hansen Wheel & Wagon Shop  – Mitchell

McGuigan Farm Experience – Spearfish

AJ Farms 605 (specialty crops, animals, flower garden) – Belle Fourche

Dennis Ranch – Red Owl

Albrecht Angel Honey Farm & Vineyard Winery – Huron

Stensland Family Farm – near Sioux Falls

A Homestead Brew & Anderson Hop Farm – Valley Springs

Mazing Acres Pumpkin Patch

 

Overnight offerings –

Blue Tin Ranch 

Hydeout Bed and Breakfast 

Ashley Arena/ Diamond A Cattle Cabin

Triangle Ranch Bed & Breakfast

Bear Butte Gardens

DX Ranch

Lakota Youth Development

Dennis Ranch

Bunkhouse on the Prairie

Circle View Guest Ranch

Yak Ridge Cabins and Farmstead  

“The Farm”

How have you seen South Dakota grow from agritourism?

Agritourism goes hand in hand with our goal of encouraging visitation to our rural communities and supporting their economies.    

What is your favorite part of South Dakota agritourism?

It gives South Dakotans an opportunity to diversify their current agriculture businesses and adds a unique offering to our visitor experience in a state where agriculture is so prevalent. Agritourism is combining South Dakota’s two main industries.

Agritourism can be the supporting income for an additional family member to stay home or come back home to the operation. It might also provide an opportunity to bring future generations home to South Dakota. Individuals that have a passion for people, may just find their dream job right on their farm or ranch that wasn’t available before.

If you would like to learn more about South Dakota tourism, the South Dakota Department of Tourism is working to add the locations of all SD agritourism locations to their website. Or check out Four Summer Adventures to Connect You with South Dakota Farms by Hungry for Truth.