Exploring Agritourism: A Thriving Industry in Virginia and Beyond
The Blue Ridge area features a robust and unique culinary scene that is unlike any other in the country. The Blue Ridge is a wonderful place with fresh local food and skilled chefs who prioritize farm-to-table dining.
Taste of Blue Ridge recognizes the immense significance of agritourism in the Blue Ridge area. This beautiful area has a strong farming history that is important to its culture.
Agritourism allows people to connect with the land, its history, and the locals. This fosters a greater appreciation for the local way of life.
What is Agritourism?
Agritourism, also called farm tourism, is when people visit farms and rural areas to learn about farming and local products. It’s a way to show off the agricultural side of a region.
Agritourism has recently grown in popularity because it gives tourists immersive experiences and helps preserve and promote local culture.
In the Blue Ridge community, visitors have the opportunity to learn about traditional farming practices, seasonal rhythms, and sustainable agriculture. They can participate in various activities such as vineyard tours, farmers’ markets, farm stays, u-pick experiences, and culinary events.
People enjoy these experiences because they bring them back to their roots. These experiences allow them to connect with nature and a more traditional way of life.
Benefits of Agritourism
Agritourism offers a number of benefits for all parties involved.
Benefits for Farmers & Towns
Agritourism injects new sources of revenue into rural economies. Farms attracting tourists can prevent urban sprawl and preserve rural landscapes by discouraging their sale for development.
Diversified Income for Farmers
Farmers often face income risk due to factors like weather, market fluctuations, and crop yields. Agritourism provides an additional stream of income that can help stabilize their financial situation and support their agricultural operations.
Agritourism creates job opportunities beyond traditional farming roles. These include jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Many agritourism operations emphasize sustainable farming practices, such as organic farming and soil conservation. These practices contribute to strong environmental health.
Benefits for Tourists
For tourists, agritourism offers unique and memorable experiences. Visitors can pick their own produce, eat farm-to-table meals, and take part in hands-on workshops. This helps them feel more connected to the place.
Agritourism allows visitors to experience and learn about local customs, traditions, and agricultural practices. This helps preserve cultural heritage by passing down knowledge and traditions to future generations.
Agritourism connects farmers, locals, and tourists, promoting understanding and enriching the community through exchanges and connections.
Agritourism in Virginia
Virginia agritourism has undergone many changes over the years. In the beginning, Virginia was known for its thriving tobacco industry. Those days are long gone, but the success of farms in the area lives on through the culinary experience!
Virginia has a strong agricultural background, making it a good fit for the farm-to-table movement. The people in the Blue Ridge area have a lot of farming experience and adapt to industry trends.
Virginia is also an extremely unique landscape, featuring rolling hills, mountains, coastland, and farmland. This landscape diversity allows Virginia’s agritourism to thrive as it can offer a number of different cuisines and experiences.
Agritourism Destinations in Virginia
There is no shortage of amazing agritourism destinations in Virginia. At Taste of Blue Ridge, it’s our mission to highlight amazing farm to table culinary destinations all throughout the Blue Ridge area. Check out our complete list of restaurants, markets, getaway spots, and chefs to see who is making an impact in Virginia.
Here are just a few of our favorites!
Audley Farm in Berryville, VA, is a great example of agritourism in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Audley Farm was founded in 1749 through George Washington’s family, and that history is ingrained in everything they do! Formerly primarily a horse farm (which has produced many famous racing horses), Audley Farm is now a prime destination for purebred Angus cattle.
You can enjoy a guided private tour of their farm or see them at local farmer’s markets, where you can buy their world-famous prime angus beef!
Audley Farm is also hosting an exciting public event this fall! Join Root to Table’s The Great Chef’s Table in October 2023 to experience the amazing flavors of the Blue Ridge region.
Fox Urban Farms
Fox Urban Farms in Winchester, VA is transforming the way we think about farming. They’re a Vertical Hydroponic Farm, using nutrient rich water instead of soil to grow its fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers and more. This technology-based approach can produce massive yields of product in a much smaller space, making it as efficient as it is delicious!
Products can be ordered and picked up directly at their location or shipped straight to you!
Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland
Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of Virginia’s countryside. Located in Purcellville, VA, Lydia’s Fields produces a wide array of local produce that can be found at Loudoun Station Farmers’ Market. They also supply produce to a number of local favorite restaurants!
Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Located in Berryville, VA, Mackintosh Fruit Farm beckons visitors to experience the authentic charm and bountiful offerings of Virginia’s agricultural heritage. Mackintosh Fruit Farm is one of the best you-pick fruit farms in the area, providing locals with a hands-on fresh produce experience.
Originally just a farm for apples and peaches, Mackintosh Fruit Farm now features a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to pick including strawberries, sweet cherries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, nectarines, pawpaws, pumpkins, and more.
They also offer a number of specialty meals and beverages that change throughout the year. You never know what exciting new taste you might experience!
Chapel Hill Farm
Chapel Hill Farm, found in Berryville, VA, offers an enchanting agritourism experience that captures the essence of rural Virginia life. Chapel Hill Farm specializes in Randall Linebacks, one of America’s oldest cattle breeds. These free-ranging cattle are now considered endangered, making Chapel Hill Farm’s mission extremely important both locally and worldwide.
Foodies will appreciate the unique flavor that this herd produces in its beef, which is available for purchase online or on-site at Chapel Hill Farm!
Planning Your Agritourism Experience
Planning a successful agritourism trip can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your agritourism adventure:
1. Research Destinations
Start by researching different agritourism destinations. Look for farms, orchards, vineyards, and markets that align with your interests and preferences. Consider the type of activities, produce, and experiences offered at each location.
2. Plan Ahead
Many agritourism destinations have specific seasons or times when they’re open to visitors. Check their websites or contact them in advance to confirm their operating hours, tour availability, and any special events.
3. Book Accommodations
Depending on the location of your destinations, you might need accommodations. Research nearby hotels, bed and breakfasts, or vacation rentals to find the best option for your stay. Check out our complete list of awesome hotels and getaway spots in the Blue Ridge area!
4. Pack Accordingly
Dress comfortably for farm activities. Depending on the season, you might need sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, and sturdy footwear for walking in fields.
5. Engage with Farmers
Take the opportunity to engage with farmers and ask questions. They often have fascinating stories to share about their operations, history, and the products they offer.
6. Support Local Farms & Restaurants
Agritourism often involves purchasing products directly from the source. Support local farmers by purchasing fresh produce, artisanal goods, and other products they offer. You can also support farmers by visiting restaurants that source their ingredients from local farms.
7. Participate in Activities
Embrace the experiences offered by agritourism destinations. Joining activities like tours, workshops, or hayrides lets you fully experience and be part of the farming culture.
Experience Agritourism This Fall!
Are you ready to experience the beauty of agritourism for yourself? Join Taste of Blue Ridge at Audley Farm on Sunday, October 8, 2023 for Root to Table’s The Great Chef’s Table and enjoy all of the amazing cuisines that the Blue Ridge region has to offer!