Celebrate Kentucky Agritourism Month by visiting a farm destination near you
By Chris Aldridge
Kentucky Ag News
As the weather begins to cool, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles is encouraging all Kentuckians to enjoy the outside during September and celebrate Kentucky Agritourism Month at a Kentucky farm destination.
“At a time when money is tight and gas is expensive, you and your family can have a great time at a Kentucky farm without breaking the bank,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Plus, you can keep your entertainment and food dollars close to home, while helping a Kentucky farmer earn a living.”
If you’ve ever visited a pumpkin patch or toured a Kentucky horse farm, you’ve experienced agritourism. It is defined as “the act of visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural, or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education, or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation.”
“Kentucky Farms Are Fun,” The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) agritourism program, outlines a veritable treasure trove of more than 500 agritourism destinations to experience on the KDA website. These adventures include:
- u-pick orchards and fields,
- corn mazes,
- hay slides,
- horse trail riding,
- hunting preserves,
- live music,
- wine tastings,
- breweries and distilleries,
- garden and nursery tours,
- wedding venues,
- farm stays and bed & breakfasts,
- educational events,
- fresh Kentucky Proud food,
- unique farm markets that sell Kentucky Proud products, and
- festivals, concerts, and other special events scheduled during September and throughout the fall.
You can find a list of Kentucky agritourism locations, broken down by category, at kyproud.com/programs/farms-are-fun.
One of those concerts is coming up on Thursday, Sept. 14, when country music star Luke Bryan will perform at Mulberry Orchard, 1330 Mulberry Pike north of Shelbyville, to kick off his Farm Tour. It’s the only stop in Kentucky and only one of five in the nation. The other stops on the tour include Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For tickets or more information, www.lukebryan.com or do502.com/artists/luke-bryan.
In October, Kentucky Proud, the marketing arm of KDA, will launch a fall harvest ad campaign to promote agritourism. The department is working with a group of social media influencers who will visit Kentucky Proud farms and submit promoted posts about their purchases and experiences.
A few decades ago, many Kentucky family farms relied upon tobacco as a primary source of farm income. In the years of tobacco’s decline, many farm families began to look for ways to replace lost income. Agritourism became a welcome source. Now, agritourism venues are a key component of Kentucky’s economy, providing additional income to help supplement existing farm operations. Kentucky’s agritourism industry employs many people and contributes to our ag economy. All the while, agritourism helps educate people about the basics of how food gets from the farm gate to the dinner plate.
The most recent Census of Agriculture in 2017 listed 651 Kentucky farms involved in “agritourism and recreational services.” Income increased by $10 million in five years, from just over $7 million in the 2012 census to more than $17 million in 2017. The most recent agritourism numbers will be released next year.
“Today, many Kentuckians have no direct connection to farm life, even in rural areas,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Agritourism gives people an opportunity to better understand the skill and hard work that go into producing the abundant food and fiber that we all enjoy.”