Feature: Agri/Nature Tourism
The Yosemite/Sequoia RC&D (Y/S RC&D) has been working in partnership with local agricultural producers and other entrepreneurs to expand agriculture-nature tourism enterprise opportunities to diversify and sustain family farms and support economic stability in rural communities.
The Y/S RC&D formed a steering committee made up of personnel from visitor bureaus, farm advisors, county governments, farm bureaus, ag producers, and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to guide and assist the effort in their respective areas. Y/S RC&D has developed information databases of interested businesses, surveyed them to determine assistance needs, and brought them together to work cooperatively.
A major accomplishment was the development of an ag-nature tourism workshops. The business development series of six mini-workshops to assist participants with planning and launching their alternative enterprise ideas. These workshops were developed in partnership with the Central Sacramento RC&D through generous funding from the U.S. Forest Service Rural Community Assistance Program.
The workshops were designed to assist producers through thought provoking, facilitated discussions and participatory activities. Each session ran 2.5 hours to 4 hours, and touched on subjects such as Is Ag-Nature Tourism for us?, Assessing Your Community's Potential, Assessing Your Resources, Meeting Legal and Regulatory Challenges, Risk Management, and Business Planning and Marketing.
Each module built upon previous modules and included self assessment tools to enable participants to decide if ag-nature tourism is truly for them. Upon completion of the six workshop series, participants should have completed the majority of their business plan, and were then able to begin their enterprise within a year if they decided to do so.