2018 Season Wrap-up

November 14, 2018

The 2018 season has ended and I wanted to share a few frequently asked questions, problems, concerns, and trends that I am seeing.  Rather than waiting until next year to address these issues, it seems easier to do so while the year is still fresh in our minds. 

Using Photos to Your Business’s Advantage

November 14, 2018

When using social media to advertise your business and products, there is power in pictures. Customers cannot touch or feel what you have to offer. Words and photos are the only way to promote your agritourism destination and persuade people to visit your farm and buy your products.

Do You Know the 5 Steps to Excellent Customer Service? - Step 2

August 13, 2018

Men shaking handsIn our last newsletter, we introduced a series of articles about our customer service workshops, and the five steps a business must do to provide excellent service to its customers. In the May, 2018 newsletter, we highlighted the first step of excellent customer service as “Make it Your Own”. Define what you want your customers to say about you, and strategically create your business’s unique culture in a way that makes you stand out from your competition.

Store Fresh Garden Produce Properly

August 13, 2018

Produce StorageYou have probably heard the old proverb, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” Although the meaning of the proverb is directed at things besides apples, it is based on a true fact for many fruits and vegetables. The storage location and temperature, quality of the product and what they are store with makes a big difference in their storage life. This is due primarily to a plant hormone ethylene, sometimes referred to as the “ripening hormone.” It is a colorless, ordorless gas that is naturally produced by plants. It functions as a plant growth regulator and triggers specific events, such as ripening. As the fruit ripens, ethylene causes cells to degrade, fruit to turn softer and sweeter, leaves to drop on plants, and seeds or buds to sprout.

The Bountiful Benefits of Blogs

August 13, 2018

Blog text photoWhat is Blogging? Blogging is a personal web log that was initially used to share feelings, thoughts and ultimately opinions. Today, it has grown into a unique platform that many businesses and corporations utilize as a marketing tactic to increase visibility and growth. As blogging has become more popular, several businesses are integrating both their websites and blogs into one web presence; however blogs serve as an exclusive marketing channel that set them apart from a traditional website. Provided are just three benefits and tips to starting or improving your own business blog.

Do You Know the 5 Steps to Excellent Customer Service? - Step 1

May 8, 2018

How can you add value to your business so customers will select you over others? What differentiates you from your competitors? The first step for any business is to make it YOUR OWN. Begin by defining your business’s unique customer service culture. Many businesses skip this step – but it is the most important! Everything you do for your customers should result from the business culture you strategically decide to create. This is not your mission statement, nor your marketing plan; but it influences both of those. Your customer service culture is the impression you want in a customer’s mind the instant they hear your business name. 

Promoting Your Agritourism Destination

May 8, 2018

Now that we have entered Spring, being outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather is the top priority on our list. Families have begun to gather ideas on how to spend their spring and summer weekends. As an agritourism destination owner or operator, have you thought about how you will promote your destination so yours makes the list of potential visitors?

An attractive advertisement or an inviting social media post are sure to catch the attention of visitors. The more promotion and information you have readily available for interested visitors, the more likely they are to add your destination to their go-to list! To help you get started on the right foot when it comes to promoting your farm, we have compiled ideas about what you can do to get the word out about your agritourism destination.

Plan Now for Donating Excess Produce

May 8, 2018

Most gardeners anxiously await planting season and often get over zealous. Either the garden ends up larger than planned or more tomatoes, potatoes, and zucchini are planted than are actually needed. It is similar to going to the grocery store when you are hungry – you end up with more than you intended. Another situation may arise that the crops over performed, also leaving gardeners with a surplus. Although some of the excess may be shared with neighbors, friends and family, much goes to waste. According to, the amount of garden produce that goes unused in the United States could feed 28 million people. Make this year one that you intentionally plant extra and/or plan to give your surplus to help feed the hungry in your community.

Expanding Your Business’s Brand

February 6, 2018

Marketing Illustration Branding is a key component of a business’s recognition and reputation. The use of names, symbols and designs can help customers and clients identify your company’s products and services. Branding can build an expectation about a company’s products and can encourage the company to maintain or exceed that expectation, thus, bringing better products and services into the market place.

Expanding your brand is an essential marketing strategy to improve your business’s success and status. There are several marketing activities that you can establish, enhance or maintain to advance your overall branding outlook.

Tourism Consultations Offered Throughout Iowa

February 6, 2018

Professional Development Tour on FarmIowa tourism is a growing business. According to 2016 research released by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, state tourism revenues exceeded $8 billion, with communities and businesses across the state trying to carve out a piece of the pie for themselves. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is ready to help. Tourism specialist Diane Van Wyngarden serves all 99 Iowa counties. 

Agritourism - Reaching Out to A Potential Market

November 15, 2017

There is a growing Latino and Hispanic presence in Iowa. With regard to the business model of Agritourism, is it a potential market that hasn’t been capitalized on? Many Latinos originate from a rural setting. Capitalizing on the niche market opportunity to help Latinos reconnect and acquaint their younger generation to their heritage can be done with the help of a Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG). To learn more click here. 

AgMRC Resources for Agritourism Destinations

November 15, 2017

Screen shot of AgMRC websiteOne of our main goals for the Visit Iowa Farms Program, and all of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is to help connect your needs with Iowa State University research and resources to help you make sound business decisions. The Visit Iowa Farms Program is a project of ISU Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) is also housed under the ISU Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program umbrella. AgMRC is a national information resource on value added agriculture and has a wealth of resources that are useful to your farm and agritourism businesses. Click here to learn about a few of our favorites.

How to Use Facebook Effectively to Improve Your Business

November 15, 2017

Screen shot of Visit Iowa Farms Facebook pageGoogle is primarily the first place people look to find information about a business or company. One of the first links to appear is the Facebook page. Facebook is the primary social media platform that is used to promote a business, so it is important to keep your information up-to-date. Here are five tips to help you maintain the performance of your Facebook page. 

Marketing Tips

October 24, 2017

Utilize these tips to improve the marketing strategy for your business or agritourism destination. 

Safety Protocols- A Must for Agritourism Destinations

October 24, 2017

Little boy feeding a goat Whether you are gearing up for a busy fall season or are open other seasons of the year, it is always a good time to be thinking about safety on your agritourism destination. Establishing proper safety protocols can help ensure that you are doing all you can to protect the visitors on your destination.

Farm Business Used FSA Loan Opportunity to Startup

October 20, 2017

KiogreenThe Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program (VAAP) has teamed up with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) to create outreach and education about financial assistance through FSA Programs. With the help of a FSA microloan, KoiGreen Produce and Pond Supplies was able to startup their business as well as purchase many necessary items for their pond. 

Subscribe to News