Local farmers are getting behind an initiative that combines tourism with working farms which produce food.
Agritourism is a sector which started in 2020, and this month (May), local farmers are highlighting the first Scottish Agritourism Month (May) through their social media pages about their farm stays, farm tours and farm shops.
Many farms and crofts also undertake direct farm retail of food and drink to local communities and visitors. In national economic figures, farm retail is recorded in agriculture and food and drink data, while agritourism activities are recorded in tourism.
Jock Gibson, who owns Edinvale Farm, which supplies their own butchers shop in Forres and a farm shop in Dallas, said: “We are part of a network of like-minded people and businesses who, as a group, provide a high-quality destination for visitors to and within Scotland.
“There is a vibrant Scottish Agritourism sector growing in Scotland which not only provides support to help diversify existing farming operations but also promotes what we do as a business.
“Through the GoRural initiative, we have become more resilient as a business with the promotion it has given of our Wee Shed Shop.”
Nikki Lake, whose Thorabella Farm rears Buffalo, pigs, goats and rabbits, has recently added a farm shop and is introducing cabins on its farm, also at Dallas.
“We see the value and benefit of agritourism and are making a conscious effort to be involved in it, in and around the local area. We recognise the unique draw our Buffalo have and love seeing families witness them for the first time,” she said.
“It’s as important as ever to support local agriculture in any way possible, but likewise we understand there needs to be a give back. For us we do that through not only our produce but the community we’ve created surrounding the farm, educating children and families where possible and showing what we’ve grown, both in the ground and as a business.
“I think the fascination around agritourism will continue to grow, due to the fact that as a societal trend we are seeing the need and the want to be connected, understanding where our food is coming from and getting our hands dirty.
Time is right
Caroline Millar is the sector lead at Scottish Agritourism, a body set up in 2020 to promote the initiative.
She added: “The time is right for Scotland now as the sector is gaining such traction. “We aim to harness this interest and momentum and are showcasing the sector throughout the month of May with a series of marketing initiatives, including a member social media challenge and series of roadshow events that will demonstrate the diversity, successes and potential of the sector and raise the profile across a huge range of audiences.”
Main picture: Jock and Fiona Gibson of Edinvale Farm