Communities gear up for more agritourism
The Nevada Farms Conference recently wrapped up a successful event in Fallon that provided tours and discussions from area businesses to improving farming techniques in Northern Nevada.
While many workshops and discussions catered to specific audiences, the city of Fallon, along with other professionals in marketing, presented information on the growing agritourism industry in Nevada.
Jane Moon, the city’s director of Tourism and Special Events, said tourism in Nevada is like a small community.
“We need to find ways to keep people coming back,” she said.
The panel consisted of Moon’s predecessor, Rick Gray, now with Osborne Gray Marketing; Rick Lattin, owner of Lattin Farms west of Fallon; Ann Louhela, project director of Western Nevada College’s Specialty Crop Institute; Natalie and Cameron Andelin of Andelin Farms; and Shari Bombard, Travel Nevada’s rural programs manager, Sales & Industry Partners.
Gray, who spent more than 20 years with the city of Fallon, said the presentation views agritourism has a community tourism ingredient. He said the annual Fallon Cantaloupe Festival showcases the agricultural community as do local wineries. Local farms also have the potential for hosting weddings and receptions.
“Fallon does it well to incorporate it into its overall strategy,” he said.
By attracting visitors to the area, Gray asked how the area could keep a visitor busy for at least four hours when they travel to the area. He said other venues such as the museum or the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge are added locations for visitors to see. Others, like Lattin Farms, build in activities to keep visitors engaged which Lattin discussed.
Gray said illustrations on brochures touting agritourism became important for the area’s branding.
A decade ago, Fallon offered Tractors & Truffles, which gave visitors a farm-to-plate event, Spring Wings, farmers markets and the cantaloupe festival. Grays aid it was the city’s hope people came out to have dinner at the Tractors & Truffles event, and by word of mouth, say what a great event it was.
“Churchill Vineyards started out as an experiment in water use,” he said. “Grapes take a fraction of the water.”
In a short time, he said Frey Ranch has gone from selling wine to making spirits such as bourbon. The Dairy Farms of America opened a dry milk facility in 2014.
Over time, though, Moon said Fallon continues to move forward with its marketing.
Bombard said Travel Nevada’s target is to bring visitors to the state.
“We want to let people know how special we are,” she said. “We do a lot of marketing and a lot of way to include our partners.”
Bombard said her agency can help farmers and ranchers expand their agritourism endeavors by showing them grant opportunities and how to apply for them.
“You build it, and we will help you with your visitors,” she said.
Louhela said she wants people to come to the farms. A festival, she said, could attract as many as 10,000 people. She said the annual Lavender and Honey Festival in Sparks has grown to attract 25 farms and 15,000 people.
“We have thousands of consumers in one location,” she pointed out.
Louhela also said many people, even those who live in the larger urban areas, don’t realize Nevada has agriculture.
As a result of her effort and those of the Nevada tourism industry, she said communities across the state are adding farm-related events to their calendars such as the Reno Garlic Festival.
In addition to agritourism, attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about lean farming, soil health, financing and tax planning for farmers, technology in agriculture, new crops in Nevada, hemp production and hoop houses.