Corn mazes and pumpkin patches provide additional revenue and interest on farms across West Virginia when harvest time has long past.
But other agritourism opportunities exist, as a group of West Virginia producers found out during a four-month class that culminated in a two-day bus tour to Virginia and North Carolina this spring.
As the ending of this year’s harvest season is getting near, famous destinations, including the Gritt’s Fun Farm have cleared out their pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
But the face of agritourism in West Virginia is ever-growing. An economic impact study led by the West Virginia University Extension Service aims to better understand the number and key practices of such operations.
“The thing with agritourism is that corn mazes and pumpkin patches aren’t the only way you can get into it,” stated Gritt’s General Manager Bradley Gritt viaSkift. He also added, “There are opportunities for people to do it in a ton of different ways.”
Agritourism, which is a business venture on a working farm, gives tourists an original experience while providing extra income for the Putham farmers.
Gritt’s made its debut in agritourism in the succeeding years from 2006 and 2007. The owner Bob Gritt has the idea of drawing customers in to buy mums and pick their own pumpkins.
And after 8 years, the fun farm has extended with two corn mazes, a playground area, a hayride, pedal carts, and apple cannons for the thousands of guests during the month of October.
In Putnam County, of the nearly 550 farms, only 78, or about 14 percent, garners more than $10,000 in sales every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 census. Many of them own small farms too while working full-time jobs.
“Farms can provide an experience that travelers are looking for,” said Cindy Martel, marketing specialist for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. “It’s ripe for tourism. People want to learn about where their food comes from.”
Additional means of revenue for producers, such as community-supported agriculture shares and farmers markets, have helped perpetuate the role of farmers as not only growers but also educators, she also said.