MORRISVILLE, N.Y.–New materials that shed light on how visitors that attend on-farm special events is now available. Many farms have considered hosting special events on-site at their farms as a marketing strategy to attract new and existing customers. These events may include activities such as a harvest dinner, festival, or farm demonstration that is not usually a part of the farm’s regular operating schedule. On-farm special events have marketing appeal because of their potential to draw large numbers of people to farms. However, beyond anecdotal evidence, there is little information on how, if at all, these events help farms gain and retain customers.
To learn more about customer attraction and retention from on-farm special events, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Madison County conducted a study of a large on-farm special event they coordinate every year: Open Farm Day. Open Farm Day is an annual event held the same weekend every year in Madison County, NY where around 30 farms open to the public for the same hours on the same day. Farms of all types and all sizes participate, not just those regularly involved in agritourism. The event draws almost 4,000 people, many of whom are children and families. CCE Madison County developed two surveys that were sent via email to Open Farm Day attendees in 2015 and 2016 to gauge their responses to Open Farm Day.
Results of this study, which details on how first-time and repeat attendees responded Open Farm Day, are available at http://cceontario.org/agriculture/ag-economic-development/agritourism-resources. Available resources include a factsheet and video workshop presentation based on the Open Farm Day customer study. These resources for farms can help farms determine what kind of customer attraction and retention benefits they can expect to see from hosting an event at their farm. Farms using these resources will be able to better decide if having an on-farm special event is a good fit for their farm, and if it is, how they can maximize their event’s marketing potential.
This workshop is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number ONE15-229. For more information on this study, contact Marie Anselm firstname.lastname@example.org or 585.394.3977 x402. For more information on Open Farm Day contact Jennifer Farwell at email@example.com.
–Marie Anselm, Cornell Cooperative Extension