In March I attended the annual Small Farms Week conference at NC A&T State University. While there I had the pleasure of hearing from and meeting all types of farmers. From them I learned about this one big thing keeping small farms profitable: agritourism.

North Carolina’s agritourism industry is crucial for supporting small farms and preserving the state’s agricultural heritage. Agritourism is the selling of farm experiences to interested citizens, especially city folk who may crave a more relaxed way of life. It offers a variety of experiences like farm-to-table dining, agritainment attractions such as corn mazes, and educational farm tours covering dairy farming and beekeeping, as well as overnight stays.
The impact of it cannot be underplayed. While little economic work has been done to look at the agritourism industry as a whole, we can assume that agritourism boosts rural communities by creating jobs and revenue streams. Farm stays, farm-to-table restaurants, and artisanal food producers thrive, contributing to the overall economic diversification of rural areas.

Agritourism also plays a vital role in preserving agricultural traditions. Farms act as living museums, demonstrating traditional farming methods and heritage livestock breeds. This helps keep age-old practices alive for future generations. As more farmland gets bought by developers and larger farms, preservation of historical farming will become more difficult. Agritourism helps to mitigate that.

Moreover, agritourism strengthens the connection between farmers and consumers. Visitors get to enjoy fresh, locally sourced produce and interact directly with farmers. This interaction fosters appreciation for the hard work behind farming and encourages support for local agriculture.
Looking ahead, innovation and collaboration will continue shaping North Carolina’s agritourism. Advancements in agritech and partnerships between farmers, chefs, and artisans will ensure the sector remains resilient and aligned with changing consumer demands.

In summary, agritourism in North Carolina is vital for supporting small farms, preserving traditions, boosting economies, and embracing a future of innovation and collaboration in agriculture.