|The Parrish Pumpkin Patch in southern Virginia. (Parrish Farm photo)|
State agencies have published materials to help guide farmers who want to get in on the trend. And rural counties are embracing it, even hiring coordinators to see to the industry. Big events such as tractor pulls or festivals can bring in profit to the whole community. And farmers who offer agritourism destinations say they love giving city dwellers the opportunity to learn more about farming and where their food comes from. Holland writes that "Carolyn Reilly, who opened Four Corners Farm in 2011 in Franklin County, said she and her husband offer farm tours to expose people to farming and show the public where the food comes from, in addition to making a living at it."
There are a few downsides to agritourism. it tends to be dependent on weather, so a festival getting rained out can cost a community thousands of dollars in lost income. Safety and liability are also a concern for farmers, as well as zoning issues and local ordinances. In short, the grape-picking expedition might get rained out, the on-site wine tasting bar at the vineyard might not be allowed, and the farmer might need to buy extra insurance in case a tourist gets hurt. But many farmers believe the promise of extra income in an increasingly cash-strapped industry is often worth the trouble.