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NC Working Lands Tourism

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Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts, a Southern staple, and Pumpkins. Road side veggie and cut flowers stand outside of Goldsboro, NC. Photo Credit: Mary Lou Addor

Tourism in North Carolina brings economic health and vitality. Touted as one of the top leisure and vacation destinations, North Carolina offers Blue Ridge Mountain scenic vistas, miles of a beautiful sandy coastline, and a number of popular national attractions in between. According to Economic Development Partnership in North Carolina, all 100 counties are connected to drive and grow this economic success story and that a visit to  North Carolina is a celebration of the good life!

While partnerships with destinations, attractions, lodging and dining properties, and associations statewide remain key to North Carolina’s success, this is only part of the successful tourism story that North Carolina has to share. Another part of that story is shared from NC State Extension Tourism and how tourism connects to private landowners, particularly working farms in providing a lived experience. According to NC State Extension Tourism, agritourism is a hybrid of agriculture and tourism,  and it refers to activities or events that take place in that “authentic location” for the enjoyment and education of the public.

children bird watching

Working Land Safaris –Birding and Wildlife Watching. Photo Credit Mary Lou Addor

Some of the activities that farmers may offer as agritourism in the creative economy are:

  • Bird and wildlife watching safaris
  • Barnyard animal tours
  • Pick your Christmas Tree
  • Farm roadside stands
  • Goats and their cheese
  • Honey is from bees
  • Fields of flowers
  • Pick your own fruit bucket
  • Hay, snow, or farm rides
  • Fishing and camping
  • Learning from farm camps
  • Farm dinner and overnight stays
  • Solve the Corn Maze
  • Pick a Pumpkin
  • Weddings on a farm

Landowners may rely on agritourism to support the family farm and strengthen connection with the community by creating unique, memorable experiences for visitors throughout the year. Listen to Carla Barbieri, an agritourism specialist with NC State Extension describes North Carolina’s Agritourism.

Pumpkin event

Pumpkin event at Vollmer Farm in Bunn, North Carolina. Photo Credit: Sara Brune.

There are over 1000 farms that offer agritourism activities or programs in North Carolina. In another example, Carla Barbieri, shares the stories from women in agricultural who are making strides to build and offer agritourism from their property given a passion that they have allowed to flourish. A short though engaging video clip shares a number of examples that women in agriculture offer – NC’s Women in Agritourism.

NC Farmers and residents provided insights and opinions on the socio-economic-cultural benefits of agritourismNearly 78% of the farmers who participated in the survey believe that agritourism is important or very important and plan to offer additional activities in the future. The NC Department of Agriculture and partners produced a video, titled the Business of  Agritourism, which offers approaches for growing a agritourism business.

Agritourism, shares the NC Department of Agriculture,  creates many new opportunities for farmers to even out the revenue stream, to strengthen the family farm and its connection to the public all while preserving the beautiful rural landscape of North Carolina.

family feeding pygmy goats

Feeding Pygmy Goats – Farm Dobson, Dobson, North Carolina. Photo Credit: Sara Brune.

For additional resources to explore or think about agritourism, visit