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Pee Dee Agritourism

Product Development Plan

2010 Robert Brookover & Laura Jodice Clemson International Institute for Tourism Research and Development Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management

Pee Dee Agritourism

Product Development Plan Introduction

Census statistics indicate that farms in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina (Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon County, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg counties ­ Figure 1) are disappearing at an alarming rate. Many existing small farms are facing serious financial challenges and price decline due to foreign competition making profitability difficult. Such declines have encouraged many rural communities to diversify opportunities for the collective development of non-traditional tourism markets. Agritourism presents an opportunity for rural farms to diversify and create alternative sources of income by providing agricultural products, services and experiences to tourists. While other states such as North Carolina and Virginia have invested in agritourism development, to date there has been limited collective effort to develop tourism focused agricultural products in the rural communities of the South Carolina. In order for South Carolina to enhance the economic viability and sustainability of agricultural systems, preserve its natural and cultural heritage, and provide opportunities for much needed economic revitalization in struggling rural communities, strategic planning for the development of a cohesive agritourism program must occur. Agritourism makes sense for the Pee Dee region because the travel and tourism industry is a leading employer in South Carolina, and a third of tourism expenditures occur in Horry County (U.S. Travel Association, 2009). Visitors to the coast pass through the rural inland regions where farms are

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located, and restaurants and retailers servicing visitors and residents in coastal areas are interested in local foods and authentic historical and cultural experiences. However farms in neighboring communities are not yet taking advantage of potential economic opportunities created by the coastal tourism market. The Pee Dee Agritourism Initiative, funded by a USDA Rural Development RBEG Grant, is designed to meet the following goals: 1. Facilitate alternative economic opportunities for small agricultural operations and increase economic sustainability of farming in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina. 2. Increase the viability of traditional farming enterprise through development of supplemental market opportunity 3. Diversify existing tourism markets along the Grand Strand through the provision of heritage based tourism experiences and products offered by inland communities of the Pee Dee Region 4. Provide economic stimulus for rural communities in the Pee Dee Region Phase one of the Initiative was an inventory of existing agritourism products in the Pee Dee region. This report is part of Phase Two, which includes conducting stakeholder workshops for product development planning, creating a product development plan for the Pee Dee region and forming an agritourism stakeholder association. The plan presented here is an outcome of stakeholder workshops and assessment of products and services in the region. The plan has a regional focus that fits with the statewide initiative to encourage county and regional level tourism planning as a means to leverage grant funding and investment. What Is Agritourism? An agritourism business is a farm enterprise operated for the enjoyment and education of the public and that may also generate additional farm income by promoting farm products and experiences. Typically these are rural enterprises that incorporate both a working farm environment and a commercial tourism component (Weaver & Fennell, 1997). In the general sense, agritourism is the practice of attracting visitors to an area or areas used primarily for agricultural purposes (Virginia Cooperative Extension). However, agritourism can include "anything that connects consumers with the heritage, natural resource or culinary experiences unique to the agricultural industry, or a particular region of the country's rural areas" (Wilson, Thilmany, & Sullins, 2006). Agritourism is a lot more like eco-tourism or heritage tourism in that it is small-scale, lowimpact, and, in many cases, education-focused (Virginia Cooperative Extension). Typically, agritourism is more about providing alternative

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income to assure viability of the working farm, but a collaborative effort on a regional scale can create a unique rural destination that is attractive to tourists. Agritourism can include both on-farm and off-farm activities, as long as they are agriculturally related. On-farm tourism activities have been distinguished between those that are directly connected to the agricultural business and those that use the farm for other recreational activities that take advantage of the farm setting (Busby & Rendle, 2000). The list of possible on-farm activities can also be distinguished as participant, education and spectator experiences including (Wilson, Thilmany, & Sullins, 2006): Outdoor recreation (fishing, hunting, wildlife photography, horseback riding, bird watching); Educational experiences (farm and cannery tours, cooking classes, wine tasting, cattle drives, or help work the ranch) Entertainment (harvest festivals or corn mazes) Hospitality services (farm and ranch stays, guided tours or outfitter services) On-farm direct sales (u-pick operations or roadside stands) Off-farm activities typically involve opportunities to purchase and eat local foods (farmer's markets, fruit stands and country stores, restaurants highlighting locally harvested foods) or educational and entertainment experiences (community festivals and events featuring agriculture heritage and museums featuring local agricultural heritage). In addition, farm landscapes are The success of agritourism enterprises depends partly on the community systems supporting tourism development and the characteristics of agricultural businesses in a region. Furthermore, regional level agritourism planning needs to consider barriers and opportunities for development, characteristics of potential visitor target markets, unique needs of small farm families interested in agritourism (including continuing education needs), local heritage and culture, availability of visitor services, and other

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tourism attractions in the area. Creation of a network or system of agritourism products and experiences in a region depends on cooperation with destination marketing organizations (DMOs) (McGehee, 2007). Most enterprises have developed independently as part of a specific business, and DMOs are just beginning to develop regional or statewide promotion programs. Collaboration between DMOs and the farm sector is important to sustaining efforts of agritourism providers and to integration of agritourism into destination marketing plans. Involvement of DMOs also removes some of the burden for marketing and promotion from farmers (who may not have expertise in defining markets and strategies for tourism) while at the same time providing economic benefits from increased regional visitation related to an increased profile for agritourism. Methods Representatives from Clemson International Institute for Tourism Research and Development and the project leader, Blake Lanford, Clemson Community and Economic Development Extension specialist, met with stakeholders in six different locations throughout the region. The meetings occurred from May 18-20, 2010. These locations were the Pee Dee State Farmers market in Florence, Williamsburg Extension Office, Georgetown Farm Service Agency, LW Paul Living History Farm, Dillon Extension Office, and Chesterfield YMCA. Approximately 55 individuals participated, including representatives of area DMOs, Chambers of Commerce, and NGOs; farmers involved in agritourism; agricultural and economic development agents; and a representative from the local technical college. Participants were contacted and invited through email or mailed letter, and invitations were facilitated by county level extension personnel. While there is no accurate count of the number of invitations sent, every attempt was made to notify all stakeholders involved in agritourism in the region. Stakeholder sessions lasted about one-hour. Stakeholders were asked to discuss barriers and opportunities for agritourism development, significant agritourism products in the region, gaps in visitor services, potential marketing strategies and ideas for cooperative programming. They were also asked to comment on the role and responsibilities for the Pee Dee Agritourism Association (stakeholder association) to be formed as an outcome of this project. Results of Stakeholder Meetings The stakeholder meetings demonstrated considerable consensus on the barriers to agritourism development, marketing and cooperative opportunities, and the role of the Pee Dee Agritourism Association. There were some notable features in communities that were considered in the discussion about a regional product development plan for agritourism. These include: Florence/Darlington ­ The Darlington raceway is major attraction. Kingstree/Williamsburg ­ There are many BBQ restaurants that could attract visitors. The Black River is a scenic river and is used for kayaking when water levels are suitable. It is also possible to

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see old rice fields alongside the river. This was one of the regions where land was apportioned out following the Civil War (break up of plantation lands). Georgetown ­ Is being promoted as the "Hammock Coast" and has some interesting history rich islands (Sandy Island, South Island). Conway ­ This area has a successful Farmers Market that attracts people from Myrtle Beach. The LP Living History Museum focuses on tobacco heritage. This museum opened in November, 2009, is very active and is suitable as a central location for tours and information dissemination. Dillon ­ Recently built a downtown nature hike/bike trail (1.2 miles). The wellness center has an extensive vegetable garden that supports the food bank. The Paint-ball attraction is very popular and attracts numerous visitors. Chesterfield ­ This area has several state and federal lands (State forest, Sandhills NWR, WMAs, Lake Robinson, Cheraw State Park ) used for outdoor recreation (hunting and fishing, golf, boating, camping). Cheraw is the town located at the end of Pee Dee River where steamboats ended their route. Cheraw is also the home of Dizzy Gillespie and a jazz festival. The area has an Equestrian center and was important to the longleaf pine timber industry. Organizational Support Through the USDA funding for this project, the Clemson Cooperative Extension program will be involved in facilitating and leading the initial stages of the Pee Dee Agritourism Initiative. Stakeholder input also highlighted additional important supportive organizations for agritourism development in the region. Several Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) and Chambers of Commerce are supportive of promoting agritourism. For example, the Florence CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau) has been working on a heritage tourism book that includes agritourism and highlights specialty opportunities. They have also produced a map-based brochure of existing opportunities ("Get Ag-Cited") and typically send out press releases on agricultural events. The Myrtle Beach CVB also posts events and uses Facebook to communicate with visitors. The Chambers in each community are promoting those who are members. The benefits of forming a Pee Dee Agritourism Association are that the Association can become a Chamber member and all Association members can collectively benefit from the Association's membership. There are also several organizations and initiatives in the region that are important to supporting tourism and that are relevant to agritourism product development. These include: Tourism Trails/Networks: Heritage Corridor, Francis Marion Trail, Cotton Trail, Tobacco Trail, Gullah Trail Agencies: USDA (wood sheds for farm sales in low income counties), Department of Agriculture Certified SC, State Parks Food Bank and low income programs: EBT cards provided through the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and administered by South Carolina Department of Agriculture (use at farmer's markets), WIC, School lunch program; Outreach Farm in Hemmingway, SC (United Way, free-range beef), wellness garden in Dillon NGOs: North Eastern Strategic Alliance/NESA: (a regional economic development program focused on the north east corner of South Carolina); Coastal Conservation League (sustainable food initiative); Palmetto Pride (anti-litter)

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Barriers to Agritourism Stakeholders suggested several significant barriers to agritourism product development in the Pee Dee region. A majority of barriers are related to the fact that agritourism has not matured in terms of visitors picking up on this concept and realizing there are farms to see, involvement and capacity of farms to supply agritourism products, limitations of visitor infrastructure, and state and regional regulations and policies. Evidence includes fragmentation of tourism promotion efforts among involved farmers and destination management organizations. There has also been some failure of farmers markets and attractions, as well as difficulty expanding farmers markets, due to lack of interest. Barriers that are of highest concern include liability, costs of complying with state and county level regulations, capacity of farms to cope with increased visitation, and marketing and tourism related abilities and skills of farmers. The majority of these barriers, especially liability and zoning issues, are shared among agritourism efforts throughout the U.S. Therefore, other states, such as Virginia (Virginia Cooperative Extension) have already developed resources to facilitate problem solving. Liabilities associated with the public visiting the farm are a primary concern. Issues include visitor safety around animals or while riding farm equipment, trail safety, and customers getting into accidents while parking. The high cost of insurance is also a problem, and some stakeholders feel that costs are particularly high because liability is hyped by insurance companies in SC. State and county regulations are challenging for agritourism development. For example, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) requires "homemade" products such as breads or canned foods to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. Commercial or engineering standards for public facilities often require restrooms to be hurricane proofed or handicapped accessible. Meeting these requirements is costly for the farmer and increases the initial investment costs for farm based agritourism. Wine-tasting is also regulated, making it difficult to provide wine-tasting at vineyards or farmers markets. County level zoning (land-use and building codes) are often incompatible with agritourism development and differ between counties. Different tax classification levels for different types of farm products also create confusion and complexity. Farms are not always prepared for visitors. Last minute visitors are problematic for most farms. Problems occur when farms do not have well-defined or consistent visiting hours or sufficient staff to work with visitors. Increased visitation can result in problems with running out of products. Quality and quantity of staff can affect the ability to adapt to fluctuations in visitation as well as whether the experience is good for the visitor. Cleanliness and neatness matter to visitors, which means the farm area or farm market needs to look well kept and maintained to be more welcoming. Seasonality of crops and tourism can also be problematic. Also, local growing conditions and drought conditions restrict certain crops that are good for agritourism (e.g., grapes) and eco-tourism opportunities (e.g., kayaking) that might link well with agritourism. Some agritourism businesses/farms have failed and in some cases farms are experiencing decline in visitation. For example, farms dependent on school groups are finding that school budget cuts are limiting field trips. Farmers are not tourism experts. Farmers are already feeling overwhelmed with basic farm functions and are reluctant to add something new. They are not usually skilled in tourism marketing.

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Visitors have difficulty finding farms, farmers markets and other agritourism products. Wayfinding 1 is an important part of planning for tourism destinations because it includes the movement and decisionmaking by which the visitor travels from a point of origin to a given destination. Wayfinding capacity is poor for agritourism in the Pee Dee region. It is easy to get lost in rural areas, particularly because some farms are not close to main routes. Information about agritourism is not always easily accessible and information currently on the internet is difficult to navigate. For example, agritourism is not yet integrated with Google mapping which is now a common navigation application on smart phones. Wayfinding strategies for destinations are often integrated with branding design strategies, such as easily recognizable labels on signage that provide an indication of "arrival" at a destination. For example, the Heritage Corridor in South Carolina uses a recognizable image on signs. However, in the Pee Dee region there is a lack of quality signage that is easily recognizable and gives a clear impression of what is available and where. Word-of-mouth information from locals is another important contributor to wayfinding. However, people in communities where agritourism occurs are not aware of opportunities (includes residents, other farmers) and it is hard to get information from agritourism operators (to share with visitors). Chambers of Commerce are often staffed with volunteers and it is sometimes hard for visitors to get information from these organizations vs. using websites Marketing is expensive and challenging. Marketing is fragmented in the region because it is spread out among DMOs, independent efforts, and chambers of commerce. More recently, the media has been focusing their coverage on the coast rather than on inland communities and some newspapers and magazines want money to run an article. Use of ecommerce tools is beginning but is still at a relatively low level (a few businesses have websites and are using social media such as Facebook). This means that some agritourism businesses are not on internet and may be hard to contact. Cooperation and partnership is challenging. Cooperation between agritourism enterprises can either lead to copying or sharing of ideas, which, depending on how this occurs, means trust is important. There are some other initiatives or organizations that would be suitable for partnership; however, some important opportunities, such as the Heritage Corridor, are not in the Pee Dee Region. There is also private ownership of historical agricultural sites, such as rice fields. Also, there are lots of large commercial farms that are unsuitable for agritourism, and some areas do not have a lot of local producers (e.g., Georgetown). Funding is limited. Farmers are not skilled in grant-writing, nor do they have the time to commit to this activity. A significant source of funding for alternative deployment of tobacco farming resources has in some cases resulted in funding for agritourism. The primary source of funding the state allocation from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) which committed tobacco manufacturers to pay approximately $206 billion to the 46 states over the first 25 years of the agreement. However, the tobacco buyout funding in South Carolina has not been as focused on alternative deployment of agricultural resources as it has been in North Carolina (see below).


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Wayfinding includes selecting and following set pathways through an existing network and involves both movement (route, speed, direction, time) and decision-making by the tourist. Planning for wayfinding often focuses on travel route identification, tourist route preference, individual differences in wayfinding, landmark utilities and wayfinding decision-making. (See: Xia, Arrowsmith, Jackson & Cartwright, 2008).


Limited Support Infrastructure. It is difficult to get people to stay in the region longer. Much of the traffic in the region is usually visitors on their way to the beach. Proximity to main travel routes to the coast or I-95 is sometimes more beneficial to attracting visitors. There is also limited infrastructure to support retention of visitors in the region. For example, lodging in many of the inland communities is low in quantity and quality. There are no or few B&Bs and some towns have no lodging at all. Opportunities Stakeholders suggested numerous product development opportunities and strategies, including those specific to the role and responsibilities of the Pee Dee Agritourism Association and actions that might be pursued by agritourism providers in the region.

The Tobacco Trust Fund in North Carolina includes the Golden LEAF Foundation ( a non-profit corporation that makes grants for economic development in tobacco dependent communities. The foundation funds education assistance, job training and employment assistance, scientific research to develop new uses for tobacco or alternative crops, economic hardship assistance, public works and industrial recruitment (including public service infrastructure) to local governments, health and human services, and community assistance in areas where tobacco farmers and other workers are affected or projected to be affected by a decline in production of tobacco products. For example, the Golden Leaf Foundation is currently supporting a local foods initiative. Projects supported by this initiative for 2010 include development of a travel guide titled Farm Fresh North Carolina that will list 500 NC farms and local food producers, operations of the NC Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council, and the "Got to be NC Agriculture Community Marketing Project" which involves six food shows across North Carolina that are intended to increase interest in and consumption of local foods and to create new market opportunities for producers.

Pee Dee Agritourism Association Serve as umbrella organization and liaison with other organizations (Clemson, Chambers, DMOs, support organizations, agricultural associations) Connect with/Advise people wanting to get into agritourism; as well as next steps to grow and best practices. (This is a fundamental role for Extension because outreach and education is part of their mission). Build synergisms Leverage resources and capitalize on existing resources Build growth Identify assets and gaps for development Encourage diversity of experiences Suggest policy changes o Review/inventory policies across counties and state level supportive and not supportive of agritourism; what codes are ideal for agritourism?

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o Develop political will: Lobbying/organize tours for legislators Encourage development of land use policies and zoning that favors agritourism enterprises Evaluate return on investment o Data collection (visitation) to use in grant writing and fundraising efforts o Sharing success stories o Idea evaluation (profit potential and educational value) o Collect economic information on best price structures and price points Liability and agritourism o Research liability issues o Talk with people dealing with liability o Investigate cooperative liability insurance o Provide education about liability solutions o Liability form that people can use Provide advice to new landowners Familiarization tours to other farms/areas to see what they are doing Identify fully operational agritourism vs. in-development Talk to the SC Dept of Agriculture about agribusiness opportunities Financial advising ­ how to secure loans etc. Agritourism Provider Connect with visitors on the coast o Bus tours/vans o Connect via restaurants (fresh on menu, catering, guides to places with local foods) o Amtrak o Standard transportation routes from coast o Georgetown as base Provide diversity of experiences o Opportunities at night (take advantage of absence of nightlife) o Change exhibits and opportunities throughout the seasons o Feature seasonal products o Use a broad definition of what is included in agritourism o Theme-based routes Use or establish high demand activities or events (e.g., paint ball, hunting, clay shooting, kayaking, car racing) to attract people Provide a "total experience" (variety of activities and attractions integrated with the experience in the destination) to attract people Highlight foods characteristic of the region (e.g., boiled peanuts) Evaluate potential for growth/new product development on different farms (what can they add) Develop new products (e.g. artisan distilleries) Increase support (e.g., training, marketing, communications) for Community Share Agriculture (CSAs) which is already occurring but could increase in activity. Farms/attractions in peripheral areas need to be big enough to be a destination rather than a midway stop

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Cooperation/Partnership Cooperation between neighboring communities Cooperate with educators/schools Cooperate with NGOs supportive of sustainable agriculture Use locations that are primary points of contact with visitors to distribute information o Places to go for information o Farmers Markets o Georgetown Hammocks o Wineries o Beaches (hotels, restaurants) o Local Events/Festivals o McCleod farm (76, route from Charlotte) o Cheraw (town at end of Pee Dee River) historical interest, Dizzy Gillespie, jazz festival o State forests and WMA, Sandhills NWR o Re-consider role of gas stations in disseminating information Create synergism between agricultural producers and non-agricultural attractions that bring large number of visitors to the region o Darlington raceway o Private hunting/sportsmen's clubs o Paint-ball Integrate across tourism and recreation types o Heritage and culture o Art o Eco-tourism o Hunting/Fishing Use local county museum space Partner with other initiatives (e.g., Palmetto Pride, Certified SC) Marketing Brand identity ­ develop an icon representative of agri-tourism quality standards (this can also help with "wayfinding") Gather information in brochures or websites Create brochures/visitor information products with a map and info about key sites Focus on building word-of-mouth (least expensive advertising) Provide truth in advertising Use cross-promotion o Groups already marketing (e.g., cotton trail) o Among farmers o Between tourism related sectors o Myrtle Beach needs to see agritourism as an asset to market o Focus on restaurant/farmer connection Restaurants (e.g. placemats; Fresh on menu) Start with restaurants already purchasing local/partners that already have a connection o Take advantage of the national push to promote agriculture


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o Public Relations Focus on out-of state Use of Social media (Facebook) Develop stories SC ETV (e.g., Making it Grow) o Determine best opportunities for different target groups Define products suitable for last minute /spontaneous visits vs. scheduled tours Activity-based Best products for bus tour Identify suitability of opportunities depending on travel group type and where visitors are coming from on the coast or other SC counties, international/Canada, beach traffic; include Myrtle Beach residents, day trippers from Columbia and people from Ohio as target groups People who want to know what a cotton plant looks like People on the beach for the week, looking for something different to do Children (70% of visitors to farms?) Privately operated camps and plantations; sportsmen's clubs Clubs Conference groups Church groups/camps/programs Sample itineraries (half day, full day) Farm-stay/work on farm; volunteer tourism Marketing local produce/products for visitors vs. locals Tourists who want close to 95 vs. more rural Trip planning (main focus) Green movement (political groups that place high priority on environmental sustainability) o Theme-based promotion o What other marketing strategies are being developed o Use ecommerce tools (e.g., search volume investigation via Google; Trip Advisor) Training/Outreach/Education Familiarize community members (including farmers) with agritourism opportunities o Use people in community for word-of-mouth promotion Build initiatives around outreach/educational themes Create curriculum around agritourism o Integrate SC Department of Education K-12 curriculum standards into programming o Include educators o Provide interactive programs (e.g., planting activities with kids) o Internships for university students (interpretation, tourism management, education, ag/horticulture) Provide resources to farm businesses for existing and potential agritourism o Training o Toolkit


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o Manuals: Checklist, Fact sheets, how to get started o Case studies Visitor services Explore zoning and liability issues related to public facilities and address these to reduce challenges for agritourism development Prepare for increased visitation Top weekends for agritourism ­ Mother's Day (race); week after Mother's Day (large plant festival and Pee Dee Farmers Market); Fall (festivals ­ Darlington, sweet potato, Coker farms fall festival) Lodging: lots of rental houses and larger hotels in region; B&Bs in McClellanville; look at farm stay examples in North Carolina Potential Tourism Themes Several tourism themes were mentioned as potentially beneficial to planning, marketing and branding of agritourism in the region. The suggested themes also demonstrate how agritourism strategies might integrate other local businesses and services. Many of these themes could be integrated with efforts to link agritourism with SC Department of Education curriculum standards for K-12 students. AFRICAN-AMERICAN AGRICULTURAL HISTORY This theme focuses on local descendents. Activities include arts and crafts (show and demonstrations), bread-making, living history, old and new methods of agriculture, and the history of African-American role in development of rice culture. Activities include visits to former (and existing) rice fields. For example, there are old rice plantations along the Black River which is popular for kayaking. HOW CROPS ARE USED IN EVERYDAY LIFE This theme links crop harvest with products or foods that are used or consumed in everyday life. For example, cotton is interesting to many tourists (people like to see cotton fields), everyone wears cotton clothing, and the history of textile manufacturing in the region could be integrated with this theme. There is also a cotton festival in the region. Another example of an area for focus could be nutraceuticals (agricultural products being used in personal health products). TOBACCO HISTORY/TOUR This theme would highlight old and new methods of tobacco farming and alternative crops. The SC Tobacco Trail (www.sctobaccotrail. com) and L. W. Paul Living History Farm in Conway could serve as focal points for understanding tobacco history and culture. Introduction to alternative products being grown on former tobacco farms would also be a means to educate consumers about how the industry is responding to market pressures.


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LOCAL FOODS & SPECIALTIES TOUR This theme would focus on highlighting foods that are locally grown and available in the region, particularly those foods unique to the region. The theme includes organic farming, and healthy and fresh foods as part of the tourist experience as well as daily lifestyle. The theme highlights and encourages culinary uses of these foods (e.g., features in restaurants that provide information about the farm or farmer, highlighting chef specialties using local foods at festivals, farmers markets and media). This theme also includes tours or special events highlighting specific types of foods For example, pork production could be highlighted through integration with visits to pig farms as well as local BBQ restaurants. The region might also take advantage of the Slow Food movement (see example in box). Slow Food Corvallis is an organization in Corvallis, Oregon focused on highlighting local food and food culture. Their goal is to "reconnect residents of Corvallis and surrounding towns with the people, traditions, animals and plants that produce our food, the legacy of thoughtful preparation and consumption of foods and beverages which embody the characteristics of our terror and culture, and locally and sustainably produced food which is good, clean, and fair". They provide educational opportunities about locally produced foods and facilitate projects and programs that encourage the growth, preparation, and consumption of high quality, nutritious local foods in schools and homes of all income levels. The group has facilitated monthly events around specific food themes or opportunities. Organization of a Slow Food chapter involves application to the Slow Food USA program. (See; RURAL AREAS/LANDSCAPE AS AN ATTRACTION Research on agricultural tourists suggests that agricultural landscapes are attractive to a segment of rural visitors. The National Survey Recreation and the Environment found that the primary reason for visiting a farm is to enjoy the rural scenery around the farm (Cordell, 2004). This theme would highlight driving routes, tours, and farm experiences that provide opportunities for viewing rural landscapes. This theme could also be integrated with other themes and with branding and marketing imagery.

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BBQ TRAIL There are multiple BBQ restaurants in the region, many of which feature regional recipes. This theme would highlight BBQ opportunities in the region, specifically restaurants and their specialties and the history of BBQ, as part of a themed-drive route. The trail could be highlighted in association with BBQ festivals in the region, or integrated with local foods tours or in workshops on cooking Pee Dee style BBQ. Restaurants and recipes using locally raised pork or other agricultural products or selling locally made sauces and other processed foods should also be highlighted.



PLANTATIONS There are multiple plantations throughout the Pee Dee region, some of which have already developed tours and other experiences (e.g., lunch or tee, special events) for visitors (see box). Many of the plantations grew cotton or rice. These plantations could be integrated with the "how crops are used in everyday life" theme as well as the "farms in transition" theme. Collaborative planning for this theme should involve representatives of historic districts and historical societies. Initial development of this theme would depend upon plantations that are already providing visitor experiences, and successful growth would depend on quality standards and availability of capital for investment in preservation or restoration. Hopsewee Plantation is a good illustration of what is possible for agritourism associated with plantations in the Pee Dee region. Hopsewee is a National Historic Landmark located in Georgetown, SC, immediately off of Highway 17 about halfway between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC, near the North Santee River. The house is a typical low country rice plantation dwelling of the early eighteenth century and is furnished with eighteenth and nineteenth century furniture. The plantation is a good place to learn about the expansion of tidal rice in the Lowcountry, which helped bolster wealth among the plantation owners but also solidified the region's dependence on slave labor. The owners reside in the house, but the house and property are open to the public. House tours occur during regular hours throughout the week but also by appointment. The owners charge a fee for tours of the house or grounds. The plantation has a Tea Room which offers a selection of food items (sandwiches, deserts) and has a banquet room available for special events. It is also possible to enjoy arrange for a Lowcountry dinner or BBQ on the grounds. The plantation information is available on an attractive website as well as an active presence on Facebook. (See:


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AMERICAN HISTORY There are multiple historic districts and historic sites and towns in the Pee Dee region. This theme focuses on linking farm transitions and agricultural history with other efforts to interpret American History in the region. Attention must also be paid to land use policies related to historic districts and how these might recognize, integrate or impact development of agritourism.

FARMS IN TRANSITION This theme highlights changes in farms due to policy changes, globalization of trade or technical advances. Conversion from tobacco farming to alternative crops or activities is an important part of this theme. This theme would also highlight technical advances in farm equipment (e.g., computerization) and methods and changes in production, toward specialty crops or markets (e.g., organic, heirloom vegetables, sustainable) as a means to remain competitive and survive economically. The theme could also highlight the science behind these changes (e.g., research by universities and farmers to grow new alternative crops, such as grapes). FARM TECHNOLOGY This theme focuses entirely on technological advances in farm equipment, irrigation and growing practices. It has both an historical and scientific/engineering focus. Currently there is a farm equipment museum in the region. The L.W. Paul Living History Farm in Conway features historical technologies used in tobacco farming (for example, above ground mounds used for winter storage of sweet potatoes). Former rice fields can be used to highlight historical technologies (adopted from Africa) used to control water for rice farming and how this impacts water resources today. New farm equipment with advanced computerization has been included in a community festival featuring agriculture and has also been demonstrated to local school children. These efforts suggest there is regional capacity to provide experiences where school children and tourists can learn about farm technologies. Safety and liability issues related to demonstration of farm equipment are an important concern for tours integrating demonstration of farm equipment. This theme is linked to the "farms in transition" theme. FARMS AS PLACES FOR EVENTS This theme focuses on marketing farms as places for special gatherings (e.g., weddings, birthday parties). Some farms and plantations have already developed their site for events (e.g., Hopsewee Plantation). This theme represents a use of farms that is not directly related to food production; however, locally produced foods and drinks could be highlighted as a benefit. Another selling point is the appeal of the rural landscapes as a backdrop for events. This theme relies on the capacity of farms to provide quality spaces and services for events. Therefore, success may require establishing quality standards, making capital available for investment in infrastructure and addressing liability issues. There is also potential for collaboration between farms and local caterers, bands and other service providers, thus expanding the economic impact of this theme.


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Product Development Plan

This section outlines responsibilities and strategies for the Pee Dee Agritourism Association, as suggested by stakeholders. It then provides detail on program priorities, along with case examples and informative resources. Association Structure and Activities The Pee Dee Agritourism Association is necessary to provide organizational leadership for facilitating the Product Development Plan. Their role should include implementing the following strategies listed in order of priority: 1) Appoint Organizing Committee to: a) Develop Vision, Mission, and Goals b) Write Constitution and By-laws c) Apply for non-profit tax status 2) Develop Guidelines, Policies, and Standards for Agritourism Operators 3) Secure and Administer Grant Funding for Program Priorities which should include: a) Creating a marketing and brand strategy b) Creating & facilitating cooperative programs c) Creating an education and training program for agritourism operators d) Creating and organizing visitor support structure e) Developing best practices guide for agritourism 4) Develop metrics to assess agritourism activity in the region and that include visitor surveys and key economic data provided by the state

RESOURCES 1. The Central Kentucky Agritourism Association covers 12 counties. In addition to membership by farms, other membership categories include Associate members (e.g., county tourism commissions). The Association website targets tourists and features a map of agritourism sites in the central Kentucky region. Their bylaws are posted at:

2. North Carolina Agritourism Networking Association (ANA) was formed to "enable

agritourism farmers to share best practices, network with peers, discuss and find answers to challenges, celebrate successes, and advocate for needed resources." Their efforts include many of the strategies proposed in the Pee Dee plan. The website outlines these strategies and includes a link to the bylaws. See:


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Program Priority 1 ­ Marketing an Branding (Year 1 and 2) 1) Hire consultants to develop a marketing and branding strategy to create a unified brand and marketing collateral and design signage and way finding for the agritourism industry in the region. 2) Develop cross-promotion opportunities within agritourism industry and other segments of the tourism industry including history and heritage, eco/adventure tourism, cultural attractions, and other major events in the area. Hotels, restaurants, and retail should be included in cross promotion efforts. 3) Focus on attracting school/education groups (the association should assist operators in understanding how to incorporate SC education standards into agritourism experiences). 4) Work with local Chambers, CVB's, and DMO's to attract bus tours and to integrate agritourism products with other tours (e.g., nature-based tourism). 5) Organize familiarization tours that focus on and include: a) Community awareness b) Agritourism operators c) Politicians/decision makers d) Chambers, CVB's, DMO's e) Other hospitality industry operators and employees (hotels, restaurants, etc.) f) Media RESOURCES 1. UC Small Farm Program, Tips for Building Marketing and Community Partnerships 2. Colorado Agritourism Workshop Materials

Program Priority 2 Create & Facilitate Cooperative Programs (Year 1 & 2) 1) Explore opportunities for pooled liability insurance and implement best approach 2) Participate in/lead advocacy efforts, at local and state levels and including: a) Regulatory relief to limit liability concerns b) Zoning rules and regulations ­ look into possibility of creating agritourism zones c) Explore tax credits to help offset the cost of liability insurance 3) Coordinate marketing and cross-promotion efforts 4) Create loan and grant program for operators


Pee Dee Agritourism 1/1/2010

5) Join local Chambers of Commerce as an association

RESOURCES Liability Insurance 1. Liability Insurance Tax Credit for Agritourism Operators in Kansas Regulatory issues 2. Iowa State University, Zoning and Health Considerations in Agritourism [ nts/article/cfans_article_123321.pdf] 3. UC Small Farm Program, Changing the Rules: Planning for and Regulating Agritourism in California []Various Legislation Protecting and Enhancing Agritourism 4. National Ag Lawcenter ­ Agritourism Resources to the bylaws. Program Priority 3 Create an education and training program for agritourism operators The primary focus of this education and training program is the development of a Certified Agritourism Operator Program. The program is designed to assure that agritourism products throughout the region are high quality and help operators overcome barriers to development and growth of agritourism. The operator certification program will be work in conjunction with the Guidelines, Policies, and Standards for Agritourism Operators, created by the Association. 1) Create online, self-directed program supplemented with face-to-face seminars to include units on: a. Hospitality b. Liability & Risk Management c. Financial Management and Grant Writing d. Programming and Event Management e. Marketing & Data Collection f. ecommerce & Web Design

Pee Dee Agritourism 1/1/2010

2) In addition to completing courses, the Pee Dee Agritourism Association will develop facility standards. Each operator completing the course must also pass a facility inspection conducted by the association. RESOURCE

1. University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture


Program Priority 4 Creating and organizing visitor support structure 1) Explore gaps in transportation, facilities, lodging and restaurants. 2) Coordinate efforts among Chambers of Commerce, CVBs and DMOs. Program Priority 5 Developing best practices guide for agritourism

There are best practices guides available in other states where planning for agritourism has been extensive. These could be adapted to the Pee Dee region. However, it is important to develop best practices that fit challenges (outlined in this document) that are unique to the Pee Dee region. RESOURCES 1. Virginia Cooperative Extension Agritourism resource page: 2. Colorado State Univeristy, Cooperative Extension publications (includes agricultural marketing) 3. UC Davis, UC Small Farm Program, Agritourism 4. UC Davis, UC Small Farm Program, Farmers Market


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Busby, G., & Rendle, S. (2000). The transition from tourism on farms to farm tourism. Journal of Tourism Management, 21(6), 635-642. Cordell, K. (2004). Outdoor Recreation for 21st Century America ­ A Report to the Nation: The National Survey on Recreation and the Environment. Venture Publishing, Inc., State College, PA. [also see:] McGehee, N. G. (2007). An Agritourism Systems Model: A Weberian Perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 15(2), 111-124. Weaver, D. B., & Fennell, D. A. (1997). The vacation farm sector in Saskatchewan: A profile of operations. Tourism Management 18 (6), 357-365. Wilson, J., Thilmany, D., & Sullins, M. (2006). Agritourism: A Potential Economic Driver in the Rural West (No. February 2006-EDR 06-01). Fort Collins, CO: Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Xia, J., C. Arrowsmith, M. Jackson & W. Cartwright. (2008). The wayfinding process relationships between decision-making and landmark utility. Tourism Management 29 (3): 445-457.


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