Farm4Profit Podcast

Essential Considerations for Starting Your Agritourism Business

Episode Summary

In this episode, we're joined by Diane Van Wyngarden, an esteemed educator and community leader based in Iowa. Diane shares her expertise in agritourism, highlighting successful businesses and addressing the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. We explore unique selling points, starting considerations, marketing strategies, revenue diversification, immersive experiences, industry trends, and building strong relationships. Tune in for valuable advice, including often overlooked expenses when starting an agritourism venture. Plus, discover exciting new types of agritourism on the rise. Let's cultivate success together!

Episode Notes

Diane Van Wyngarden

Diane Van Wyngarden is a highly respected educator and community leader based in Iowa. She has dedicated much of her career to serving as an Extension Educator with the Iowa State University Extension, where she has worked tirelessly to provide educational resources and support to farmers and rural communities across the state. In recent years, Diane has focused her efforts on helping Agri-Tourism farms to thrive, recognizing the critical role they play in promoting sustainable agriculture and boosting local economies. Through her work, Diane has earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for agriculture and rural development, and as a tireless champion for the people and communities of Iowa.

  1. What is agritourism, and what are some examples of successful agritourism businesses?
  2. What are some of the biggest challenges that come with running an agritourism business, and how can you overcome them?
  3. How do you identify a unique selling point for your agritourism business, and why is it important to have one?
  4. What are some important considerations to keep in mind when starting an agritourism business, such as zoning laws, liability insurance, and permits?
  5. What are some common mistakes that people make when starting an agritourism business, and how can you avoid them?
  6. How can you promote your agritourism business effectively, both online and offline?
  7. What are some ways to diversify your revenue streams as an agritourism business, such as offering classes, selling products, or hosting events?
  8. How can you create an engaging and immersive experience for your visitors, and what are some best practices for doing so?
  9. What are some trends and changes that are affecting the agritourism industry, and how can you adapt to them?
  10. How can you build strong relationships with local businesses and organizations to support your agritourism business?
  11. How can you measure the success of your agritourism business, and what metrics should you be tracking?
  12. What are some resources and networks that you can tap into as an agritourism business owner, such as industry associations or mentorship programs?

Agritourism businesses can be costly to start and operate, and there are some expenses that are often overlooked. Here are some examples:

  1. Permits and Licensing: Depending on the type of agritourism business you're starting, you may need to obtain permits and licenses from local and state governments. These can be expensive and time-consuming to acquire.
  2. Liability Insurance: Agritourism businesses often involve visitors interacting with livestock, equipment, and other potential hazards. It's important to have liability insurance in case of accidents or injuries.
  3. Infrastructure: Agritourism businesses often require infrastructure like parking lots, restrooms, and picnic areas. These can be expensive to build and maintain, but they're necessary to provide a safe and comfortable experience for visitors.
  4. Marketing and Advertising: It's important to promote your agritourism business to potential customers, but marketing and advertising can be expensive. It's important to develop a comprehensive marketing plan that targets your ideal customers and fits within your budget.
  5. Employee Training: If you have employees working on your farm or ranch, it's important to provide them with proper training and safety protocols. This can be time-consuming and expensive, but it's necessary to ensure the safety of your employees and visitors.
  6. Maintenance and Upkeep: Agritourism businesses require ongoing maintenance and upkeep, from repairing equipment to mowing fields to cleaning up after visitors. These costs can add up over time and should be factored into your budget.
  7. Taxes: Agritourism businesses are subject to a variety of taxes, including property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. It's important to understand your tax obligations and to set aside funds to pay them.
  8. Legal Fees: Agritourism businesses may require legal assistance for issues like liability waivers, zoning laws, and contract disputes. Legal fees can be expensive, so it's important to have a plan in place to cover these costs.
  9. Accessibility: Making your agritourism business accessible to visitors with disabilities can be expensive, requiring the installation of ramps, handrails, and other accommodations. It's important to factor these costs into your budget and to comply with accessibility regulations.
  10. Emergency Planning: Agritourism businesses need to have emergency plans in place for situations like severe weather, medical emergencies, and power outages. Developing and implementing these plans can be time-consuming and expensive, but they're essential for the safety of your visitors and employees.

What did we miss?

What advice would you give yourself at ag 18 or to someone who is 18 and listening to use right now

Summary & Challenge




Here are 10 successful agritourism businesses in Iowa:

  1. Living History Farms: Located in Urbandale, Living History Farms is an outdoor museum that showcases Iowa's agricultural and rural history. Visitors can take guided tours, participate in hands-on activities, and explore a working 1875 farm.
  2. Picket Fence Creamery: This family-owned dairy farm in Woodward offers tours, tastings, and events, as well as a farm store where visitors can purchase ice cream, cheese, and other dairy products.
  3. Summerset Winery: Located in Indianola, Summerset Winery offers tours, tastings, and live music events in a picturesque setting overlooking the Iowa countryside.
  4. Center Grove Orchard: This family-friendly orchard in Cambridge features a pumpkin patch, corn maze, apple picking, and other seasonal activities, as well as a farm store and bakery.
  5. Buffalo Ridge Orchard: Located in Central City, Buffalo Ridge Orchard is a popular destination for apple picking, cider tastings, and hayrides, as well as a farm store selling apples, pumpkins, and other produce.
  6. Iowa Wine Tours: This company offers guided tours of Iowa's wineries and vineyards, with options for private and custom tours as well as group packages.
  7. Howell's Pumpkin Patch: This family-owned pumpkin farm in Cumming features a corn maze, petting zoo, and other activities, as well as a pumpkin patch and farm store selling pumpkins, gourds, and other fall decor.
  8. Hansen's Dairy: This farm in Hudson offers tours of its dairy and creamery, as well as a farm store selling milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
  9. Maquoketa Caves State Park: While not strictly an agritourism business, this state park in Maquoketa features hiking trails through a network of caves and rock formations, as well as a campground and picnic area.
  10. Rustic Ridge Winery: Located in Lisbon, Rustic Ridge Winery offers tastings of its award-winning wines, as well as live music and other events in a scenic rural setting.


Agritourism is an industry that's constantly evolving and innovating. Here are some examples of new and emerging types of agritourism being offered:

  1. Farm-to-Table Dinners: Many farms and orchards are now offering on-site dining experiences, featuring locally-sourced ingredients and seasonal menus.
  2. Agricultural Education and Workshops: Visitors can now learn about specific aspects of farming, such as beekeeping, composting, or sustainable agriculture through workshops and classes offered by farmers.
  3. Farm Stays: These are similar to traditional bed and breakfasts, but guests stay on a working farm and can participate in farm activities, such as milking cows, collecting eggs, and feeding animals.
  4. Agritourism and Wellness Retreats: Some farmers are partnering with wellness professionals to offer yoga, meditation, and other wellness activities on their farms.
  5. U-Pick Flowers: In addition to traditional u-pick fruit farms, some farmers are now offering visitors the chance to pick their own flowers, creating a unique and colorful agritourism experience.
  6. Farm-to-Spa Experiences: Some farmers are now incorporating their own farm-grown herbs, fruits, and other ingredients into spa treatments, creating a unique and locally-sourced wellness experience.
  7. Agritourism and Adventure: Many farms and ranches are now offering adventure activities, such as zip-lining, horseback riding, and hiking, giving visitors a chance to explore the outdoors and connect with nature.
  8. Virtual Agritourism: With the pandemic, many farms and ranches are offering virtual tours, workshops, and tastings online, giving people a chance to experience agritourism from the comfort of their own homes.
  9. Agritourism and Glamping: Some farmers are now offering glamping (glamorous camping) experiences on their farms, with luxury tents, comfortable bedding, and on-site amenities.
  10. Agritourism and Art: Some farmers are now collaborating with local artists to create art installations and exhibits on their farms, creating a unique and creative agritourism experience.