As the number of farms dwindles, those still in operation are looking for ways to maintain viability. One solution some farms are trying is agritourism.
Whether it's a corn maze in the fall, a live nativity in the winter, or a farm camp in the summer, farmers open their farms to visitors in order to help educate the public. For many of these people, this is the first time they are visiting a farm.
Staheli Family Farm in Washington, Utah offers many public attractions on their farm year-round. Sherrie Staheli Tate is a fifth-generation farmer. After temporarily leaving the farm to pursue a career in interior design, she found her way back 20 years ago when they first started the corn maze.
Tate says that inviting the public to a working farm creates some concerns.
“You can look at every little thing and think ‘ok, this could happen, and this could happen and this could happen’ and that a risk you take when you open up your farm to people,” Tate said. "Our main [priority] is to educate about agriculture, that’s why we started doing it when we started doing it. To get people to the farm so that they can learn where their food comes from.”
When visiting a commercial farm, it is important to take into consideration that people are working on the farm as well as the attraction. It is important to keep in mind what you wear when considering what your surroundings are going to be.
“Probably the main things like uneven ground or mud." Tate said. “We had one lady freak out because her little kid got in the mud and on the farm you just never know. You could step in poop too. So, there are things that can happen, just recognize that it is a working farm.”
Agritourism allows farm families to sustain their family farms and maintain their lifestyles.