Appalachian areas, many of which are trying to find economic alternatives after the loss of coal dollars, are pushing ag tourism as a way to improve local economies, AP reports. "Last month, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal agency charged with promoting economic development in that area, launched a map and guide of nearly 300 farmers markets, vineyards, farm-to-fork restaurants and other destinations in an effort to boost the industry. The map and guide were published in Food Traveler Magazine and online."
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Katy Orr-Dove, whose family farm opened a retail market in 1995 in Martinsburg, W.Va., said retail sales generate about 15 percent of business, up from 5 percent seven years ago, AP writes. She told AP, "People started having a greater interest in finding locally grown fruits and vegetables and they started looking for us. At about the same time, we decided we wanted to reach out more and increased our advertising, our website, our e-newsletter.”
In 2012, the state's 174 ag-tourism farms "generated about $1.2 million in ag tourism — up from 112 farms and $970,000 in 2007," AP writes. Orr-Dove told AP, “The possibilities are endless. West Virginia is known for being mountainous farmlands. And there are a lot of people who have small farms already.” (Read more)