I recently had a very interesting discussion with an official from the marketing division of Florida Department of Agriculture. Residing in Central Florida, I am used to the area being a Tourist Mecca...what with Disney & Universal +++, and realize the huge economic importance this creates. During our conversations of how effectively to market our Aquaponic produce via "Fresh from Florida", keeping in mind my desire to abide by our tag line "grown locally, grown naturally", she inquired as to whether I would be open to allowing visitors to the Aquaponics research fish farm. Of course, wanting to share such knowledge and create awareness thus hopefully lead as many people as possible to utilize this "way of life", I realized what she meant by "Argitourism".
Here is a fantastic opportunity for all of us who chose to follow this way of life. There could be numerous opportunities for extra income in your commercial aquaponics venture if you keep this in mind. As I recall a quote in one of my favorite movies "Field of Dreams"..."If you build it, he will come" :-)
Here is a recent article of Agritourism in a different State. Just think "outside the box" for your Aquaponoc set-up...the possibilities are endless :-)
"Tourists can see North Carolina farming up close"
By VIKKI BROUGHTON HODGES - The Dispatch of Lexington
LEXINGTON, N.C. -- There will soon be another road sign marking the entrance to SandyCreek Farm and the list of fresh products available - a sign proudly proclaiming the farm is a member of the North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association.
Brenda and John Garner, the owners of the 15 1/2-acre farm, hope the designation will bring in even more visitors who want to find locally grown produce, organic shiitake mushrooms, homemade preserves and jellies and enjoy visiting the farm, complete with a farm store, greenhouse, cutting garden of flowers and herbs, small picnic area and a short nature trail.
Located at 3160 N.C. Highway 150 South, three miles south of Reeds Crossroads and one mile north of Tyro, SandyCreek is now hosting family and small group outings, such as garden clubs and church groups as well as picnic luncheons. Also, small corporate retreats for up to 20 to 25 people can be held in the basement and back porch of the Garners' home on the farm, which is equipped with Wi-Fi.
It is a fab idea, I just hope the food safety bill doesn't dash the hopes of small farms and make such things impossible.
I've had plenty of people from all over the country and now the world (since our friends from Japan came not long ago) here to see my systems. I often feel a little embarrassed as my big system isn't really something I would ever recommend some one else emulate as it grew in a disorderly fashion but at least it lets me highlight to people some things I recommend doing differently and why and they can see first hand what I mean.
I'm all for farm tours and showing off what can be grown right in the backyard. More people should understand where their food comes from and I think that would play a huge role in food security.
I would like to share with you a recent visit to our Aquaponic research farm (my wife has named it "Sham-Darshan Aquaponic Research Farm" - based on our home name), by some VIPs, none other than the Indian Ambassador to USA - Hon. Meera Shankar accompanied by her husband Mr. Ajay Shankar, Consul General of India Mr. Sanjiv Arora and other highly qualified professional dignitaries. Ambassador Hon. Meera Shankar was visiting the Central Florida Area and speaking at UCF, meeting the Mayor of Orlando and addressing various Indo-American Chamber of Commerce & Women's Groups and was to visit the local Hindu Temple and Chinmaya Mission when we received an unexpected call that she would like to see the Aquaponic research farm.
After the initial panic we set about getting the office & farm reasonably clean and I put together a quick MS Power Point presentation (which I will gladly share privately with you), we received a visit for about 45 minutes. It was late evening so I had put up a few temporary lights...even so, they left very impressed. Let's see if this is the beginning of achieving some of our Company's (Florida Aqua Fresh Produce), Mission Statement and Objectives :-)
Our farm, Coastview Aquaponics, invites the public to the farm three days a week. We let customers pick their produce directly out of the system. We give tours during out sale days. We get people from the community as well as tourists that have heard about us by word of mouth.
Everyone probably knows already that Friendly Aquaponics (where I am currently enjoying my days) has farm tours every Saturday morning for a couple years now. I'm pretty sure anyone who has wanted to see already has by now lol. I'm not sure if charging people is very good for reputation. We advertise our farm tours on the lettuce mix bag that sells at Costco, which encourages our local consumers to see where there food comes from. Overall, I think agritourism is best to promote your farm, but not so great if you want to be profitable. Depends on population nearby, and I think it's only a matter of time before people see the importance and have their own farms, which will make agritourism almost silly.