Agritourism on the Byways
National Ag Day kicks off National Ag Week, celebrated in 2023 from the 21st to the 27th of March. The week celebrates and acknowledges the agricultural industry and the role it plays in stabilizing the economy.
Agriculture plays a vital role in western Iowa. Not only is agriculture the engine of western Iowa's economy, it has shaped its landforms, and organized our communities. Western Iowa would not be what it is today without agriculture. Ag's footprint on western Iowa is seen all along its scenic byways: grain silos and semi-trucks full of grain, terraced fields and center pivot irrigation, and even the Loess Hills that were never ploughed because of their steep grade.
There are numerous ways that you can show your support for agriculture in western Iowa, not only on National Ag Day or National Ag Week, but throughout the entire year. Agritourism is increasing in popular and is a great way to support your local agricultural industry.
The National Agricultural Law Center defines agritourism as, "the crossroads of tourism and agriculture. Stated more technically, agritourism can be defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner."
There are many forms of agritourism: pumpkin picking patches; corn mazes, U-Pick operations, petting and feeding zoos, hay rides, cut-your-own Christmas tree farms;, dude ranches, demonstration farms, agricultural museums, living history farms, on-farm farmers’ markets, winery tours and wine tasting, rural bed & breakfasts, garden tours, and more.
While we could compile a lengthy list of all the agritourism attractions and activities on western Iowa's scenic byways, below is a truncated list of some notable agritourism destinations. If you have any questions about local agriculture and agritourism in western Iowa, send us an email (email@example.com).
Iowans are surrounded by fertile farmland, yet most of the food consumed in the state travels an average of 1,500 miles before landing on a dinner plate. Golden Hills strives to improve the southwest Iowa foodshed by building and maintaining alliances between regional producers and consumers. These alliances are further supported by raising awareness among southwest Iowans about the food that is available in this region.
Golden Hills convenes the Southwest Iowa Food and Farm Initiative (SWIFFI), a multi-county coalition of individuals and organizations within the local food system. Golden Hills provides training, assists in navigating regulations, helps with grant writing, and offers other forms of support. The assistance provided by Golden Hills helps make local food more accessible to those living in southwest Iowa. The benefits of an active and local foodshed are felt by all involved. Revitalization of rural communities by boosting local economic development and improving the health of its citizens are just a few examples of the benefits of an active local foods system.
Golden Hills organizes farmer meet-ups to meet local food producers for networking and socializing. Check the SWIFFI website for upcoming meet-ups and other programs.
Farmers Markets & Festivals
Golden Hills maintains a Local Food Guide that is available in both English and Spanish. The guide highlights farmers markets, food hubs and local food delivery, and local farms and value-added farm products. Purchasing produce from farmers markets is an excellent way to support local agriculture, as is signing up for CSAs and supporting your local food hubs and food delivery services.
Audubon Century Farm Tour
Get out and see real farms that are a century old. The Audubon Century Farm Tour is a self-driving tour of eight of Audubon County's century farms. A brochure, with a map included, is available at the county tourism office (800 Market St, Audubon, IA 50025). Private tours are available upon request.
Ross Grain Elevator
Shelby County Historical Museum
Wisecup Farm Museum
Local Orchards, Fruit Farms, Family Farms, etc.
The list above is just a sampling of the agritourism attractions and activities in western Iowa. For a more detailed list of farmers markets and local producers and farms, check out our Local Food Guide.
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