Having recently joined the ISU Value Added Ag team, after being engaged exclusively in the entrepreneurial field within Community Economic Development for three years, I was invited to an agritourism visit of two farms located in Donnellson, Iowa, Appleberry Farm and Harvestville Farm. Each farm abounded with distinct flavors and opportunities for a family or individuals to enjoy and experience. In my tenderfoot opinion, the ideal adventure would be to delve into both, after all they’re only 5 miles apart from each other.
Agritourism, as a business model, is the convergence of agriculture and tourism where the value delivered to the customer is multifold, ranging from an educational experience to simply entertainment to hands on involvement. In addition to these, I would add nostalgia, the opportunity to walk down memory lane and bring back a long forgotten past. Born on a farm, deep in the mountains near the city of Saltillo, capital of the state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico, but raised in inner-city Chicago, IL; I had the good fortune of reestablishing connections with rural life and my heritage during my youth, on a yearly basis. This last visit to agritourism farms brought back all those memories.
Strolling down the apple orchards, visiting the petting farm, being enticed by the sizable amount of canned fruits, vegetables and of course hot sauce, nostalgia cropped up and a new thought popped up in my mind in regard to the topic of relocating to the city of Ames with my whole family in 2018. Since we, as a family, are in the stage of seeking a new home, why not explore the option of buying a home on a small farm near Ames? Well that is a story for another day.
With regard to the business model of Agritourism, there is a potential market that hasn’t been capitalized on, the Latino/Hispanic market. Why the Latino/Hispanic market? For all of the above mentioned reasons, furthermore to help Latinos reconnect and acquaint our younger generation to our heritage, being that a good percentage of Latinos originate from a rural setting.
According to the study “Making America Rich Again: The Latino Effect on Economic Growth” by Dr. Jeffrey A. Eisenach, Ph.D., of NERA Economic Consulting, “while much of the developed world is facing stagnant population growth and an increasingly elderly age distribution, growth in the Latino population is keeping America both young and growing. Latinos are responsible for 29 percent of the growth in real income since 2005. As consumers, Latinos wield more than $1.3 trillion in buying power, and the Latino population is also becoming more geographically dispersed across the US.” In our case, Iowa has a Hispanic population of 182, 606, which doesn’t sound like much. Let’s not forget, that we’re bordered by Wisconsin Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota. According to census records, the total population of Latinos/Hispanics in the neighboring states is nearly 3 million. I would consider this a potential market that has not been exploited.
Next question, is how does an Agritourism farm market to the Latino/Hispanic niche market? A step to take into consideration is to contact the Value Added Ag team in regard to the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG), in order to “engage in economic planning to develop a business plan and feasibility study (including marketing plan) needed to establish viable marketing opportunities for value-added products”. For more information on the VAPG or how to market to the Latino market contact Value Added Ag at (515) 294-9483. Value Added Ag can assist you on engaging this potential market and others.
-Victor Oyervides, Field Specialist