From winery tours to corn mazes, Florida agritourism offers unique agricultural experiences to visitors of all ages. A year-round growing season provides ample opportunity for visitors to enjoy a taste of rural life.
“Florida has such a wide variety of agritourism options,” says Melissa Hunt of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “We have corn mazes, dairies, u-pick operations, winery tours, horticulture tours and cut-your-own Christmas trees, just to name some of them.”
These activities allow the public to interact with local producers, and learn about where their food, fiber and fuel originate.
“There is definitely an increased awareness about farming and where our food is produced, and that has helped in the awareness of activities on these farms,” Hunt says. “Farmers also have looked at how they can expand their product offerings and provide a positive on-farm experience for visitors.”
Many people would never have the opportunity to pet a goat, pick strawberries or see how wine is made. Meeting the producer who puts food on the shelves gives the consumer a new perspective while grocery shopping.
“Learning is always important and beneficial,” Hunt says. “When consumers can see what goes into producing agricultural commodities, it removes the mystery and gives an appreciation for growers that might not have been there before.”
Taking a hayride or watching a cow being milked is not only educational, but budget-friendly. “When the economy took a hit, people began looking for entertainment that was closer to home and less expensive,” Hunt says. “People started doing more staycations, either staying at home or spending one or two nights a few hours away from home.”
Besides expanded horizons, agricultural knowledge and sound financial decisions, agritourism is just good, clean fun.
“Participating in an agritourism activity gets people outside in the fresh air, it engages the senses and brain, and is fun,” she says.