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Conducting farm and ranch tours

Invite the public to tour your farm or ranch to educate them about agriculture and make extra money. Plan ahead helps ensure a positive outcome.

Radio interview source: Ellie Rilla, Community Development Advisor, University of California Extension

 
It's fun to visit other farms to observe new crop production techniques in the field and tour livestock operations. People who invite others onto their property put a lot of thought and work into making it a good experience.
 
Ellie Rilla is a community development advisor with the University of California extension service. She says when you're deciding whether or not to have tours on your farm, ask yourself the following questions:
 
"Do I have a place that is aesthetic enough, that has something to offer and share in a place that's drivable, that's got traffic and parking taken care of," she says. "And, am I the kind of person that loves to interpret and share all the wonders of farming and ranching?"
 
If the answers are yes, develop a tour program to fit a varied audience from school groups to adults. Decide how large of a group you can comfortably handle.  
 
Rilla says engage people as soon as they start the tour, especially kids. One way is to ask a question.
 
"What do you know about farming or what do you think I grow here? Lots of questions that sort pique kids' interest so that the farmer or rancher's just not listing off what I do here, but really trying to engage the kids," says Rilla. "I know this one farmer who always comes with one of her goats, or one of her small cows. She has it there, and then just starts asking the kids what they know about these animals."
 
Choose three-to-five points that you want to emphasize during the tour, and whenever possible, make it an interactive, hands-on experience. 
 
Keep visitors away from machinery and other potential hazards. Post signage and instructions, especially if there are other places for people to explore such as a gift shop or an area where they can pick their produce. 

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