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March 24, 2004   Email to Friend 

AgriTourism Website Helps Farmers Advertise
Jeff Helms

Visitors to Classical Fruits in Moulton, above, sample apple varieties during the farm's Antique and Apple Festival. Classical Fruits is among the destinations featured on the Alabama agritourism website.
The Alabama Farmers Federation has joined forces with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries and Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel to launch a new website aimed at promoting Alabama farms as travel destinations.

The site, www.AlabamaAgriTourism.com, provides travelers with a one-stop home on the web for agriculture tourism information. J. Paul Till, director of the Federation's Department of Public Relations and Communications, said the website will help Alabama farmers cash in on the agritourism boom.

"Farm tours, U-pick operations and agricultural festivals are a big business. With farmers facing low commodity prices and escalating input costs, they are looking for new ways to add value to their products," Till said. "Agritourism has the potential to increase profits for many Alabama farmers."

The Federation consulted with the other Alabama Agritourism partners in developing the website. It also is helping collect data from farmers who operate agritourism destinations.

With more than 450,000 members and offices in every county, Till said the Farmers Federation has a network in place for identifying agritourism destinations and for collecting information about those farms. In addition, the Federation can use its membership magazines, Neighbors and Friends & Family, to promote www.AlabamaAgriTourism.com.

"Agriculture and tourism are Alabama's two largest industries. But until now, we have not fully taken advantage of our agritourism assets," Till said. "This new website has the potential to increase farmers' profits while stimulating economic development in rural Alabama. We are proud to be among the partners who are making www.AlabamaAgriTourism.com a reality."

Till said the Alabama agritourism partnership is asking farmers who are engaged in tourism-related activities to provide information about their operations to the site. Farms, festivals, petting zoos and more may join the Alabama AgriTourism Trail by filling out an online application at www.AlabamaAgriTourism.com. About 40 farms registered with the site during it's first full month of operation, and more are being added each week.

The online application includes information about tourism activities offered at the farm as well as hours of operation and driving directions. There's also a place to list the farm's website, if applicable. In addition, agritourism sites can check boxes on the form to indicate the availability of rest rooms, facilities for the disabled, food services and if the farm accepts credit cards.

Till said this online database of agritourism destinations allows travelers to search for farms and events by activity, product or region of the state.

"This online listing is FREE to Alabama farmers and is a great way for them to promote their operations," Till said.

To register your farm or to search for an agritourism destination near you, visit www.AlabamaAgriTourism.com.


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