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Growing an Agritourism Business

Farmers find they are not the only ones who like farms. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Agricultural tourism is when people visit farms for entertainment, education or just to get away from the city. Agritourism is increasingly popular in the United States. It can add to farmers' profits or, in some cases, help them save their farms.

Farmers can sell farm-fresh products directly to the public. They can offer horseback riding. They can take paying visitors around their farm and explain agricultural methods. Or they can offer historic tours; for example, if their land was a battlefield in the Civil War.

Farmers can set up petting zoos for children to learn about farm animals. Or they can offer meeting places for people to gather in pleasant surroundings for special events.

The Department of Agriculture says more American farmers should consider developing agritourism businesses.

Many areas welcome it. For example, the town of Summerfield, North Carolina, is near a big city, Greensboro, but still has farms. Last week the Summerfield Town Council voted to add agricultural tourism to local development ordinances. Nearby areas already had rules to let farmers operate agritourism businesses.

Summerfield town planner Robin Smith says offering services and entertainment on farms can aid both the farmers and the community. Agritourism can help keep open lands from being developed. And people who visit a farm will often travel into the town center and spend money there as well.

Not too far from Baltimore, Maryland, is a place called Nixon’s Farm. The land covers about sixty-seven hectares. They grow clover, corn and soybeans there. But Nixon's Farm also holds business meetings, weddings, family reunions and other events.

Randy Nixon manages the farm and the business. His parents began farming the land in nineteen fifty-two. His mother, Mildred, added the business for visitors in the nineteen seventies after his father died.

Mildred Nixon no longer cooks for visiting groups, as she loved to do. But her recipes for foods like fried chicken are still very popular with guests.

Randy Nixon says the business has become so successful, some events are already planned through two thousand nine.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. You can download transcripts and audio files of our reports at voaspecialenglish. I'm Steve Ember.