November 22, 2019

How agritourism is bringing consumers closer to the farm gate

By Laura Bardot

Between the falling leaves (or snow, depending where you live) and combines in the fields, there’s a new energy in the air when fall arrives. Fall brings many traditions, from a full Thanksgiving dinner to trick-or-treating and carving pumpkins. And all of these traditions are connected to one central theme – agriculture.

As families visit corn mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards or wineries, they probably don’t think they are getting involved with the agriculture industry. For one specific Missouri farmer, a goal for her agritourism operation has been to share about agriculture with visitors to her family farm.

Kate Lambert grew up 60 miles west of Chicago. She was an FFA member but says she still didn’t know too much about production agriculture. Now, her and her husband have a 2,000-acre row crop operation, and raise commercial red angus cattle and a small flock of sheep. Just last year, the Lamberts decided to open a corn maze and pumpkin patch on their operation.

“We wanted to bring value to the community in a different way and give folks some entertainment,” says Kate, owner of Uptown Farms. “The ultimate goal is to try to get some education to them. They can come out on the farm and see and know us and ask questions about what we are doing.”

Kate says opening their farm to the public for six weeks out of the year has allowed people in their own rural community to learn more about modern farming. The Lamberts want to combat any misconceptions people may have about mainstream crop production methods.

“Honestly the biggest thing I hope folks get when they come to Uptown Farms, I hope they leave there and think: ‘Matt and Kate, and fellow farmers are invested in this community. They are people that care about our family, neighbors and environment. They are stewards of the land and care for the animals.’”

Aside from the Instagram-worthy pictures, the perfect pumpkin and memories of getting lost in the maze, Kate hopes visitors can take time to reflect and enjoy the farm life. She says watching kids run around on the farm like her own kids do is fulfillment enough.

“To me, it’s great for folks to come out and see the beauty of a farm and have their kids run around on the farm the way my kids run around our farm. That is really cool to get to share that enjoyment that we get with our community members in Linn County.”

The Lamberts stay connected to the community and their customers year-round though Kate’s blog and the farm’s Facebook page. Kate and Matt share agricultural facts and personal stories on their social media. Kate said by being on social media they can continue the education people off the farm.

“We found the social media channels have been an awesome way to engage people after they leave the pumpkin patch,” Kate says. “They came out and met us, they hung out with us, and in the springtime, they can see we use GMO technology and how it is helping us on the farm.”

Agritourism and social media have been catalysts for connecting more and more people to the industry that feeds, fuels and clothes the world. Agriculture has been renewed through agritourism and the new generation of consumers who want to know about the people that grow their food, fuel and fiber.

Laura Bardot is a PR and Content Specialist for AdFarm. She is a fifth-generation farm kid with a profound enthusiasm for the Midwest, cattle and Texas Red Dirt music.