WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 17, 2012, 08:30 PM

Agritourism Growing in ND

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - More and more agricultural producers are bringing in a new source of income: tourist dollars.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - More and more agricultural producers are bringing in a new source of income: tourist dollars.

Agritourism is more popular with producers and tourists than ever before. Producers are gathering in Bismarck for the first ever agritourism workshop next week.

Farmers who take in tourists say it provides them with supplemental income and offers new experiences to people new on the farm.

Barry and Holly Mawby started Gardendwellers farm ten years ago after seeing a need in North Dakota.

"We moved back to North Dakota from southern Minnesota and other states surrounding North Dakota are heavy into agritourism and have been for a long time," Holly said.

The rest of the state is catching up on the trend.

"In the last five to six years the division of tourism has done a great job educating not only the people who are hosting agritourism events, but also those people in the state about what agritourism is," Holly said.

The Mawbys farm herbs. Tourists come to share life on the farm and learn about locally-grown foods. But agritourism covers much more than herbs.

"Pumpkin patches and you pick operations to straw bale mazes, corn mazes, wineries, vineyards, someone who's willing to teach people how to pluck chickens or drive their tractor," Holly said.

"I believe it expands horizons and educates. It helps promote the local tourism," Barry said.

Barry Mawby says up to 2,000 people a year visit their farm. Farming is a foreign concept for a lot of them.

"You get people, visitors from either one of the coasts or from Florida and it is quite a culture change," Barry said.

They say people are starting to realize they're missing the agriculture culture, which has helped agritourism grow as fast as the crops people come to see.

"We've really seen a disconnect between people and their food, and in the last two to three years we're getting this real renaissance of people wanting to know where their food comes from," Holly said.

If you want to learn more about agritourism, Holly Mawby will be part of a panel discussion at the state workshop next Monday at the Biskarck Radisson Hotel.