Web Video
Buy the DVD

Search this Site!



'Come on Down," More Farmers Say

Agri-tourism is a growth industry for many state farms



Agri-tourism is becoming an important revenue stream to farms.

STURBRIDGE, MA - “Agri-tourism” and “agri-tainment” are the buzz terms in the future of agriculture, judging from the success stories of a panel of farmers addressing the Harvest New England agricultural conference in Sturbridge, Mass., in February.

Connecticut’s Russell Holmberg of Holmberg Orchards said interest in visiting his farmstand, pick-you-own fields and farm winery in Gales Ferry has been skyrocketing. 

Last year, we hadn’t anticipated the kinds of crowds we were going to get during the harvest season,” he told the audience at the opening session on agriculture trends in New England. “What had been a couple hundred people a day grew to 5,000 people a day Columbus Day weekend.”

The good thing was Holmberg Farms is proving to be a powerful magnet for people looking for something to do. The bad news, Holmberg said, was that some people waited in line for 90 minutes to pay for their produce. He’ll be more prepared this year.

The other farmers on the panel echoed Holmberg’s experience, saying they were welcoming more and more people eager to share an agriculture-related experience with their families. Creating more opportunities for visitors is a way to grow a farm’s business, panelists said.

Agritourism and visitor activities “extend the life of the farm,” is how Meg Wilson, of DeMeritt Hill Farm in Lee, New Hampshire, put it.

Alongside its Orchard business, Meg has built a solid following among teachers for her educational school tours and has established her farm’s trail system as the home turf or a local school track team.  Her farm now takes advantage of its 120 acres by offering hiking in summer and cross-country skiing in winter.  She’s planning on flooding a parking lot for ice skating this season, she said.

And people can’t get enough of Meg’s cider donuts. She calls talking her husband into buying her a donut machine the best idea she ever had.

But, Aaron Delsignore of Tide Mill Farm in Edmunds, Maine, had the bright idea that grabbed the most attention among the audience. 

Delsignore said he and his wife, Carly, are always looking for ways to advance business on their farm and dairy, which dates back nine generations.  “We discovered we could dehydrate chicken feet in our greenhouse,” Aaron said to groans from the audience.  “We paint them as Christmas tree ornaments, and they come in package with a little story about how the chicken roamed the fields and fertilized them.

“We charge extra if you want the matching pair.”

Copyright 2008 SimonPure Productions, LLC

Working the Land: The Story of Connecticut Agriculture
is a Co-Production of
SimonPure Productions and Connecticut Humanities Council

P.O. Box 459, Moodus, CT 06469 ● 860-873-3328 ● E-Mail UsPress KitAbout Us

A consumer resource guide

Hundreds of archival pics

Interviews with state farmers

Historians on  farming history

Expert takes on
farming today

You can develop Buckland Hills

Aerial views of CT farmscapes



Saving the State's Barns

STATEWIDE - Preservationists try to preserve a disappearing part of the state's agricultural heritage.

Fun Down on the Farm

STURBRIDGE - Agri-tourism is the buzzword for a growing number of state farmers, according to speakers at the recent Harvest New England marketing conference.

CT Locavores, Rejoice!

STURBRIDGE - At the recent Harvest New England marketing conference, CT Agriculture Commissioner F. Philip Prelli described how the state is supporting local growers and processors.

Farm Map Goes Digital

STATEWIDE - The Connecticut Dept. of Agriculture has introduced an interactive website guide to more than 200 destination farms in the state.

State Funds for CT Farms

HARTFORD - In the last two years, the state has granted more than $1.5 million to farmers, non-profit organizations and municipalities to help support economic viability.

Slaughterhouse for CT?

LITCHFIELD - State farmers start a process to bring a mobile slaughterhouse to Connecticut.

Matchmaking for Farmers

STATEWIDE - Farmers and would-be farmers looking for working  land have a new resource compliments of  the state Dept. of Agriculture. Connecticut FarmLink lists both property owners with farmland for sale or rent and people who are searching for land to farm.

Farm Preservation Gains Popularity with Towns

ESSEX - Land trusts and municipalities are turning to acquiring development rights as a way to save what is left of the ever-dwindling number of farms in Connecticut.

Disappearing Dairies

SHELTON - The state's remaining dairy farms are struggling to survive despite daunting odds. Farmer Terry Jones knows why it's important to help state dairies persevere.

Farming Underwater

HARTFORD - More than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms are being worked under the waters of the state.

CT's Changing Face

STATEWIDE - More folks are signing up to combat sprawl, vowing to cure its ugly effect on our state's economy, sense of place, ag sector and culture.

Back to Top