For Immediate Release
March 31, 2023
Media contact: Jim Britt
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Announces Inaugural Agritourism Coaching Program
Augusta, ME – The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry announced today that it is introducing an agritourism training and coaching program. The program provides farms offering agritourism the opportunity to expand their business goals. All details and a program application are listed on the DACF agritourism webpage. Applications and are due April 12, 2023.
“Agritourism is a long-standing tradition in Maine. Farms that want to include this as part of their business plan do so because it can offer marketing opportunities. As more research and data become available about how farms can integrate agritourism into their businesses, we want to be supportive and forward-thinking,” said Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Director Craig Lapine. “We want to enhance how communities support Maine farms and raise awareness about agriculture. Agritourism is a way to help people connect with farms. Farmers want to share stories, sustain businesses, and steward working landscapes. This pilot course will help us give farms the type of expertise they seek so they can plan for the future.”
“People explore Maine because it offers memorable experiences in communities. Farmers are a key connection to those experiences. They grow quality ingredients that become award-winning foods and beverages. Farms and food experiences are places you take your family and friends to learn where your food comes from, or they are the place you visit while discovering a different part of Maine,” said Maine Office of Tourism Director Steve Lyons. “For all of us, farms are year-round businesses supporting acres of beautiful scenery. This course will give more farmers the tools to tell their stories. The outcomes of this type of business support align nicely with the Maine Office of Tourism’s emphasis on helping people experience and support Maine businesses and communities.”
Maine Agritourism Coaching Program Overview:
- Selected applicants will receive on-site farm visits, consultations, and a remote (online) course.
- The course size is approximately 20 participants, including individuals or multiple business members from a farm, brand collective, co-op, etc.
- Applicants should be an established farm with existing agritourism enterprises. Examples include but are not limited to berries, orchards, wineries, vineyards, fruit, and vegetable, cut flowers, Christmas trees, maple syrup, etc. Examples of agritourism enterprises include direct marketing (farm stands, stores, CSAs, farmers’ markets, u-pick, choose and cut, etc.) and other types of farm sales channels.
- USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and Real Maine, the state’s official agriculture and agritourism branding program partially supports the pilot program.
- The program will be available regularly, with the first group of participants to begin in Spring 2023.
The Application Process:
- Preference is given to applicants who apply by April 12, 2023.
- Farms must complete the application before being chosen to partake in the approximately year-long course. DACF anticipates offering the course to more farms in the future.
- This call for applications is open enrollment. Interested farms should apply for consideration (including for a future course).
- Visit the MDACF agritourism webpage for all details.