Shelburne Farms leads collaboration with farms, educators, tourism

The historic barns, cow-dotted hillsides, and steaming sugar houses of Vermont’s working landscape have been iconic images of the state for many years. Increasingly, visitors want to do more than drive by these pastoral images. They want to roll up their sleeves, milk a cow, dig potatoes, and learn more about the food system with all five senses.

On Oct. 22 and 23, the Farm-Based Education Network and Vermont Farms Association are collaborating with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Shelburne Farms, and University of Vermont Extension to offer the “Farm-Based Education Forum: Agritourism, Education and Economics on Your Farm.” This two-day, skill-building event will support farms that are currently open to the public, (or considering this step), educators and agricultural service providers who work with farms, and tourism enterprises that partner with farms in their communities. The forum is geared towards those experienced in agritourism as well as those just starting out. This is the first time farmers, educators, and tourism enterprises will come together alongside representatives from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Department of Tourism and Marketing.

The Farm-Based Education Forum will offer hands-on workshops and field trips throughout the state on Oct. 22. Participants will tour farms in the Champlain Islands as well as Chittenden, Addison, and Rutland counties. Shelburne Farms, will host a day-long workshop focused on developing educational programs. Also at Shelburne Farms, University of Vermont Extension will provide training for service providers who support farms that offer agritourism and direct marketing.

That same evening will be capped off with a dinner prepared by the Inn at Shelburne Farms. The Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and the Secretary of Agriculture will speak about the importance of agritourism to our state’s economy and working landscape.

Worships, networking, lunch, and more will follow on Oct. 23. Attendees can choose between workshops on marketing, social media, and business planning as well as innovative ideas around events, tours, dinners, and other offerings to expand direct sales and partnerships with tourism enterprises.

For more information, visit www.farmbasededucation.org/events/forum. Register by Oct. 11 at www.vtfarmedforum2013.eventbrite.com. Attendees can mix and match the full and half-day offerings on Oct. 22 and 23. Registration costs $45 for the Oct. 23 workshops, with additional costs for field trips and dinner. Lodging at the Inn at Shelburne Farms is available for a reduced rate.

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