What Does Agritourism Mean to Texomaland?




In Texomaland, cattle production influences the agritourism industry. Agritourism is a commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and processing with tourism in order to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors and generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.

Agritourism developed into a profitable business for the economic diversity of farm and ranch resources worldwide. Agritourism in the U.S. began during the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. Europe attributes its agritourism beginnings to the abandonment of farms in Italy in the 1950s through the 1970s.


U.S. Agritourism History

The U.S. caught on to agritourism much sooner than Italy. Agritourism diversification combines traditional agricultural processes with the tourism industry, increases family-owned farmer’s incomes, and creates jobs in rural regions and communities.

Courtesy of the Considerations for Agritainment Enterprise in Georgia, 2002, and the Colorado Cultural, Heritage and Agritourism Plan:

Agritourism and entertainment farming enterprises have an extensive history in the United States. Farm-related recreation and tourism can be traced back to the late 1800s, when families visited farming relatives in an attempt to escape from a city’s summer heat.

Visiting the country became even more popular with the widespread use of the automobile in the 1920s. Rural recreation gained interest again in the 1930s and 1940s from folks seeking an escape from the stresses of the Great Depression and World War II. These demands for rural recreation led to widespread interest in horseback riding, farm petting zoos, and farm nostalgia during the 1960s and1970s. Farm vacations, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), and commercial farm tours were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. The demand for a slower-paced farm experience, once supplied by rural family members, seems to be somewhat difficult to satisfy today because of the four and five generation gap between farming and non-farming citizens.” (Georgia)

“Today, with fewer farmers producing more food, people have become disconnected from the sources of their food. Agritourism offers a new way to fulfill the desire to reshape this food/source connection. This past decade has seen tremendous growth in the number of statewide agritourism programs in the United States.” (Colorado)

How Did Italian Farmer’s Exodus from Farms Create Europe’s Agritourism Industry?

Small-scale farming became less profitable in Italy beginning in 1950. Italian farmers left their homelands to seek better employment opportunities in large towns and cities. The Italian government passed an agriturismo law in 1985 to regulate and encourage Italian farm stays. Today, Italy supports agritourism farms at an estimated population 20,000 locations.

Italy’s Success in Agritourism Led to Europe’s Boom in Rural Tourist Destinations in the 20th Century

The three types of agritourism in Italy are classified as:

  • One that provides light meals or self-service snacks
  • One that offers full-service meals
  • One that provides farm holidays that include meals, lodging and other activities.
  • Italian farmers are allowed to sell value-added farm products including locally produced wines, olive oils, pasta, prepared meats, cheeses, jellies and jams, honey, baked goods, and crafts.

Italy provided the framework that has revolutionized small farming and ranching operations that have bloomed around Europe and Asia. U.S. farmers and ranchers provide the same type of tourist products.

U.S. Agritourism Adventures

U.S. agritourism businesses include bee keeping farms, breweries, Christmas tree farms, corn mazes, country stays, dude and guest ranches, educational tours and classes, event hosting for weddings and family reunions, exotic animal compounds, farm to table produce stands and farmer’s markets, domestic fiber and textile production, homemade produce goods for sale, horticultural practices, hunting expeditions, petting farms, pick-your-own produce excursions, pumpkin patches, trail riding, vineyards, wineries, and more.


What Does Agritourism mean to Oklahomans and Texans?

A whole bunch! We really love our beasts, veggies, and textiles! Cotton is king in the southwestern U.S. Beef is king in our bellies! Our wildflowers and homegrown vegetables are our queens! Texas is the number one beef producer in the U.S. and Oklahoma is the number two beef producer in the U.S.

The primary crops of Texas are cotton, corn, feed grains (sorghum, milo, etc.), rice and wheat, plus an abundance of peanuts, sunflowers, and sugarcane. Oklahoma's most valuable crop is wheat. Oklahoma ranks fourth as the leading wheat producing state in the U.S.

Oklahoma’s greenhouse and nursery products are an abundance of hay, cotton, soybeans, corn for grain, oats, peaches, pecans, grain sorghum, peanuts, watermelons, and rye. Beef rules in Texas, along with rabbits, chickens, and hogs as far as domesticated livestock goes. Then, both states have our hunters. Wild turkeys, wild boars, deer, quail, waterfowl, etc. are legal game in Texas. Black bears are also legal game in Oklahoma.

Most of the agritourism industry in Texas focuses on visiting working ranches and farms, trail riding, and even buying your own meat direct from the farmer and rancher. While working with Dr. Emily Wu from Taiwan, who earned her degree in Park, Recreation, and Tourism Resource Management at Michigan State University,  and who is publishing a study on agritourism in a tourism or recreation academic journal, I realized that people, worldwide, just want to get back to the dirt, just like during the U.S. Industrial Revolution over 100 years ago. Dr. Wu is one of my English students. 

WWOOFing

Today, the buzzword used by young agricultural tourists is “WWOOFing”.

This acronym means “Working Weekends on Organic Farms,” “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” and, “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.” A secretary in London coined the acronym “WWOOF” in the fall of 1972 when she organized a working weekend at a farm as an affordable way to spend time in the British countryside for her company.

Oklahoma Agritourism Opportunities and Expeditions Near Texomaland

Oklahoma has a whole state agency solely devoted to agritourism, the Oklahoma Agritourism, which promotes over 350 agritourism venues and destinations.

Oklahoma Agritourism offers two sets of trails to help travelers get off the beaten path and in touch with nature. Plan a trip full of tours and tastings with the Wine Trails, or find out what farm-to-table really means on the Jelly-Making Trails. But, there is so much more to Oklahoma Agritourism.

These businesses cater to agritourist adventures in South Central Oklahoma near Texomaland:

Addison Ranch: Hunting, wildlife watching, and photography opportunities for huge white-tailed deer, an abundance of turkey, wild hogs, ducks. Full-time guides in the field track the native animals' every move. Marietta, Oklahoma.

Arbuckle Trail Rides: Offers guided trail rides year-round for riders, age 6 and up. Ride one or two hours on up to full-day excursions on well-trained horses with experienced guides. Riding instruction is available while teaching safe, effective confidence building horsemanship skills. The ranch maintains well-trained Quarter Horses that have been bred and trained to be user-friendly trail mounts. Their ranch-trained horses have been sold to many foreign countries and all over the U.S. They are for sale at all times. Sulphur, Oklahoma.

Blue Acres Ranch: Just minutes from Tishomingo, Oklahoma offers 160 acres, four ponds, and a beautiful home planned for family fun. Make incredible memories with family and friends with over a mile of groomed trails, plus fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking.

The Brown Ranch Hay Maze: A ranch-atmosphere attraction where individuals of all ages can eat and play. This unique maze is redesigned each year and constructed of approximately 1.5 million pounds of hay. Over fifteen activities include a three-story hay castle, a corny gold mine, an obstacle course, and an area for chicken chunkin'. Hot dogs, chips, drinks, and s'mores are provided, along with open campfires for roasting. Seven miles south of Ardmore, Oklahoma.

Cedar & Stone B&B: Located near the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. It is a rustic-chic cabin nestled among blackjack oaks and granite outcroppings by the rock pond in a corner of Harbert Ranch. The cabin is built from cedar cut from the ranch and accented with native stones harvested from the property. Relax in a spa shower just off the cozy bedroom, which features a custom queen-sized luxury bed with a view of the bull pasture and pond. Enjoy a spectacular sunrise from the back porch while listening to the roar of Blue River.

Cornerstone Kids’ Ranch: A beautiful 160-acre ranch located just three miles northwest of Ada, Oklahoma. Ranch-sponsored programs include summer camps, birthday parties, an annual Pumpkin Patch, and other special events. Activities include hay rides, hay mazes, hay slides, diamond digs, a petting farm, and pumpkins. School field trips are welcome by appointment.

I could go on, but this is only the beginning of the Oklahoma agritourism attractions near Texomaland. There are 32 agritourism attractions listed on the South Central Oklahoma Agritourism website:

https://www.oklahomaagritourism.com/region/south-central-oklahoma/1/

 

Texas Agritourism Opportunities and Expeditions Near Texomaland

Agritourism is so vital to the state of Texas, that the Texas legislature passed the Texas Agritourism Act in 2015.

The Act states that an agritourism entity is not liable to any person for injuries or damages to an agritourism participant injured on agricultural land if, before the activity, the landowner posts required signs or obtains from the participant a signed, written agreement containing required language.

The broad definitions included in the Act allow this protection to apply to many agricultural enterprises.

Elves Christmas Tree Farm and Pumpkin Patch: Denison, Texas. The Elves Christmas Tree Farm has hundreds of Fresh Cut Fraser Fir, Noble Fir, and Nordman Fir trees to choose from in their Christmas tree lot. During the fall pumpkin patch, with school tours, you can pay for a tour with or without a pumpkin pie. Learn about pumpkins and how they grow. Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch and choose one to take home. Play in the maze, dress a scarecrow, visit the farm zoo, and have a picnic.

Bailey’s Berry Patch: Sadler, Texas. This is a blueberry and blackberry pick-your-own that opened June 1, 1999. The emphasis of this farm is agritourism and open for berry picking during June and July. It offers a number of other types of fruit during their growing seasons. Other fruits available are mayhaws, pulots, muscadine grapes, and persimmons. This farm operates a small country store that sells miscellaneous preserves, pickles, syrups, t-shirts, and other gift items all year long.

North Texas Horse Country Tours: Denton, Texas. It offers half-day, full-day, and multi-day ranch visits for groups that overnight in Denton. Horse country tours for the general public are held on the first Saturday of each month. Private tours are available for booking, allowing for a customizable experience.

Aubrey Oaks Alpacas: Cooke County, Texas, between Gainesville & Whitesboro. Alpaca is a unique natural fiber that has been described as stronger than mohair, finer than cashmere, smoother than silk, softer than cotton, warmer than wool, and better-breathing than thermal knits. Their Alpaca products are top quality, beautifully designed, and supremely soft. Alpaca fiber is hypo-allergenic as it does not contain lanolin. Alpaca fiber breathes and wicks away moisture when next to the skin. Book an appointment to see their alpacas for family outings, a visit with friends, or a birthday or anniversary party.

I could go on, but the best way to find Texomaland Texas agritourism experiences is to call the Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson County Texas A&M Agrilife Extension offices. 

Support Local Farmers and Ranchers

When we support our local agricultural producers, everybody wins economically on a local level. The rise to agritourism in the U.S. began with a need for small agricultural producers to make enough money to survive in a changing economic battle with modern industry and technology which began taking over economic independence more than 100 years ago and the ability to compete with corporate farming machines, along with the human need to get back to basic peace.




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