GASPORT, N.Y. — On November 20, members of the Monroe County Agritourism Project, funded by the Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority (GVRMA) and administered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County (CCE-Monroe), were given the opportunity to tour a successful agritourism enterprise. The Agritourism Project aims to develop agritourism by connecting farmers with the wider community and to grow the public’s awareness of agriculture while increasing farmers’ revenues.
Becker Farms in Gasport, NY hosted 7 farmers, all participants in the Agritourism Project. The farm was established in 1894 as a fruit and vegetable operational farm. Twenty-five years ago, the current owners, in an effort to differentiate their business from other local farms, began to offer on-farm experiences to visitors beginning with U-pick apples and cherries. One of the early success, home-made tart cherry pies, attracted visitors from near and far and inspired the owners to grow their vision of a successful agritourism enterprise further. Continuous innovation and growth led to new attractions through old farm repurposing and land purchasing in order to create new events for the public. Today visitors may enjoy the farm’s winery, brewery and beer garden, fall festivities including pumpkin patch and hay rides, and even a petting zoo. The farm also has two spacious venues available for weddings and other functions.
Agritourism appeals to a diverse audience, and Becker Farms owners, Melinda and Oscar Viscarra were happy to share the story of their farm’s transformation into a destination for on-farm experiences. They discussed some of the steps they took to achieve success, but also pointed to challenges associated with having visitors on their farm. Amenities such sufficient parking, rule enforcement, and vigilance around visitor safety were among them.
On the bus ride home, the farmers shared their latest experience with excitement. Some planned to try out new activities on their own farms, while others talked of expanding existing ones. One impressed participant shared, “Great field trip to Becker Farms! What an amazing operation they have. In terms of agritourism, that was the perfect place to visit. They are truly doing it all and having lots of success. Very inspiring!”
The Becker Farm Field Trip inspired the visiting farmers, increasing their confidence to explore and grow the agritourism potential of their own farms.
–CCE of Monroe County
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