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Agritourism & Culinary Tourism Toolkit

Welcome to the exciting prospect of developing food-based tourism in your community! Millions of people travel each year to consume unique or iconic food products, to appreciate the local culinary heritage of places, to observe food production and growing processes, to buy directly from producers, to engage in on-farm activities and to participate in harvesting the products they eat. These activities build relationships between the farmers and the traveler that can encourage return visits to your community. They are becoming increasingly popular in Colorado and throughout the United States, and your community can become involved too!

Agritourism development may occur on a farm-by-farm basis, where an individual farmer or farming family might decide to diversify into the tourism sector, or it can be done at the community level, where communities buy into the idea of food-based tourism and encourage and plan for it in a collaborative effort. Regardless of who decides to develop food-based tourism and at what level, it is important to understand what agritourism and culinary tourism are, who its consumers are, what current trends and opportunities affect it, how to get started in this sector, the risks and liability issues, and the factors of success. This toolkit takes you through all of these components to help you develop a better understanding of the importance of agritourism and culinary tourism and how you can begin working toward it in your community.

Note regarding using this toolkit: This toolkit consists of seven different components. While we recommend that you go through all of these documents in the listed order, you may also feel free to skip around and visit the materials that are most relevant to your needs.

1. Part 1: Getting Started – To prepare you for considering whether or not agritourism and culinary tourism are right for you or your community, this introduction looks at what agritourism and culinary tourism are and the types of activities, assets and products are typically considered part of this form of tourism.

2. Part 2: Who Wants What You Have to Offer? – It is important to know the current market and potential market(s) for agritourism and culinary tourism. This section describes the assets that make Colorado an ideal food tourism destination, the market characteristics of culinary travelers and agritourists, and current trends in this area of tourism.

3. Part 3: Getting Involved in Agritourism – Taking the information from Parts 1 and 2, this section provides an understanding of what it takes to become involved in agritourism and culinary tourism. It examines the steps in preparing to become a food tourism provider and highlights the main keys to success.

4. Part 4: Risks & Liability Issues – Issues related to liability and risks often keep people from getting involved in this form of tourism. This section provides an overview of many of the legal parameters related to risks and liabilities that pertain specifically to agricultural operations that desire to branch out into tourism.

5. Case Studies - These three case studies illustrate a variety of agritourism and culinary tourism issues from different parts of Colorado. As you read through them, think about how these issues (and others) might relate to your own community or your own food-production enterprise.

  • Sage Creations Organic Farm – Palisade, Colorado – collaboration, providing experiences and products, sustainable farming practices, u-pick opportunities and farm tours
  • Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy – Buena Vista, Colorado – product diversity, liability and risk management, strong mission statement, sustainable practices
  • The Farm Bistro – Cortez, Colorado – farm-to-table restaurant, local sourcing, unique products and experiences, historic ambience

6. Agritourism Safety Checklists Booklet – Visitor safety is a major concern for agritourism operators. This document, published by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, provides a comprehensive set of safety guidelines and checklists for many on-farm activities and situations. (TIP: Go through this checklist at least once a season, or before your big event. It will demonstrate your attention to safety. Be sure to make notes and date the notes for documention.)

7. Resource Guide - Want more information? See these additional resources and visit these links to delve even deeper into how you can initiate or continue to develop agritourism and culinary tourism in Colorado.