ABOUT OREGON AGRITOURISM PARTNERSHIP: Sparking Agritourism Connections

PURPOSE

Oregon Agritourism Partnership (OAP) is a broad-brush and charitable Oregon nonprofit organization formalized in August, 2014 by a statewide leadership group of agritourism producers to serve as the primary information resource.

  1. Enhance the readiness of farms and value-added enterprise operators to successfully (Fig.1):
  • Receive increased product and farm-experience sales, and take advantage of the opportunity to educate consumers about agriculture, while preserving the basic tenants of the farm.
  • Design communications and attractions on the agritourism operation to draw interest and increase attendance and product sales.
  • Serve as an educator/storyteller for the public about food, fiber, plants and live animal production and production practices.

Figure 1.The Agritourism Relationship. Stewart, M; Chase, L.   © Oregon State University 2017

  1. In coordination with DMOs, connect the public with Oregon farms, ranches, wineries, other agriculture value-added operations and the people who operate them, and agricultural and farm-related events in order to build relationships and enhance knowledge, familiarity, and appreciation for farming, and to establish a sense of place.
  2. Provide the public with easier access to sources of fresh, wholesome foods as well as local sources of plants, fiber and farm animals;
  3. Connect the public with the land and its resources;
  4. Provide fun and educational experiences that will encourage families to get outdoors, and enjoy spending time together.

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

President –                  John Zielinski, E.Z. Orchards, Keizer*

Vice President –          Dan Hoynacki, Sustainable Communities Advocate, Aumsville*

Secretary –                  Jeanne Carver, Imperial Stock Ranch, Bakeoven/Maupin*

Treasurer –                 Barb Iverson, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm & Vineyard, Woodburn*

Director –                    Jim Clawson, Agritourism Advocate (retired UC-Davis rangeland specialist), Dallas

Director –                    Bill/Jennifer Cameron, Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch, Marquam

Director –                    Samara Phelps, Clackamas County Tourism Development Lead, Oregon City

Ex Officio –                  Mary Stewart, OSU Extension Service, Agritourism Faculty, Marion County*

*founder

The OAP Board of Directors is producer-driven, with the majority of board members actually operating agritourism entities. The balance of the directors are agritourism advocates, educators and tourism specialists. All directors are experienced with agritourism operations firsthand and are passionate about agritourism development in Oregon. The group is actively providing agritourism development direction to industry members. They may serve as a brain trust and sounding board to others. Currently, there are eight members on the board, with one “member vote” a husband/wife team. There is also one ex-officio board member who serves as the board administrator. The bylaws allow for more board members to be added. Geographically, the OAP Board of Directors currently represents: The Portland Metro area, Willamette Valley, Central Oregon and Southern Oregon. A goal for board membership is to represent all regions of the state.

MEMBERSHIP

Members of the organization is currently 80 active agritourism operations and sponsors and the 9 agritourism producers and advocates serving on the Oregon Agritourism Partnership Board of Directors.

Until 2018, there had not been a formal structure for accepting members who were not part of a Farm Loop, although the intent of the organization is to provide benefits to all agritourism entities and supporters in Oregon.  A formal membership drive will be developed and offered during 2018, to widen the sphere of participation in Oregon Agritourism Partnership.

Types of Members

  • Patron –
    • A producer, or value-added enterprise that connects directly to the public.
  • Associate member —
    • A producer or value-added enterprise that does not connect directly with the public.
    • Non-ag retail operations (Lodging, Restaurants, etc. )
    • Individuals, Tour Operators, Advocates
    • Partners, Agritourism Developers, Researchers and Educators

Benefits of Membership

Members receive benefits from the “big picture” development of Oregon’s agritourism, as OAP:

  1. Sustains the basic tenants of farming.
  2. Keeps improving the understanding, attitude and acceptance of agritourism within Oregon’s agriculture industry; this relationship can at times be contentious. Advise tourism agencies on development ideas and marketing efforts that will pose a threat to agritourism. Advise and clarify how actions may have a negative impact on farm sustainability.
  3. Easily connects farms and value-added enterprises to the public.
  4. Involves all types of partners, agriculture and tourism, including national and federal entities. Optimizes the assets of the partners.
  5. Identifies issues that need to be addressed in policy, procedures or public information. Articulates these issues. Sets forth a plan of action to address the issues.
  6. Uses credible research to learn more and support decisions.
  7. Convenes community gathering, networking and learning opportunities, including a newsletter, website, and conferences.
  8. Provides business services that may increase agritourism operation sustainability, such as limited liability signs, insurance, business planning.

AGRITOURISM COLLEGE

  1. Agritourism Conferences or Summits, workshops, field days and tours, formal classes.Collaborate with OSU Extension Service, tourism partners and others to provide education on best practices in agritourism.Provide updates for the Handbook of Agritourism
    1. Agritourism Issues Identification and Solutions
  2. Semiannually, The OAP Board of Directors identifies agritourism issues that need to be addressed, through a qualitative discussion.In the future, the Board would like to publicize these issues and seek the cooperation of partners to determine best pathways to disseminate and address these issues.Oregon State University Extension Service is a partner that is willing to accomplish research projects in the agriculture and agritourism subject areas. OSU has an extensive network of experts in farm direct marketing, agriculture (including marine) and forestry economics production and business development, and a source of graduate students who are interested in conducting research projects in cooperation with the faculty.Travel Oregon is a strong source of research information and projects.

MAJOR OAP PROJECTS TO DATE

  1. Formation of a nonprofit agritourism organization, enriched and strategically directed by a board of industry leaders.
  2. Board members participation in collaborations and statewide discussions.
  3. Agritourism Summits and Conferences
    • 2017 Agritourism Summit (M/P Co.)
    • 2018 Agritourism Conference. (C/M/P Co.)
    • Small group best practice trainings
  4. Agritourism Limited Liability Sign Program
  5. Oregon Farm Loop
    • Canby Farm Loop
    • Farmlandia Farm Loop
    • Molalla Country Farm Loop
    • Marion Farm Loop
    • New Farm Loops in development

Agritourism Limited Liability Sign

ORIGIN

OAP has its roots in Clackamas County, yet its reach is statewide.  Since 2006, agritourism has been one of the three pillars of tourism industry growth in Clackamas County. Because agritourism has had major emphasis in Clackamas County, the area has proven fertile ground for agritourism industry growth.

Timeline:

  • In 2009-10, the Clackamas County Tourism Development Council (TDC) and Danielle Cowan, Executive Director of Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs (CCTCA) commissioned the production of a Master Plan for Agritourism and a follow-up Agritourism Action Plan for Clackamas County. These plans were authored by Mary Stewart, the County’s Agritourism Consultant. (Stewart began her work for TDC/CCTCA in 2006 and completed her work in FY 2015 when she accepted an assignment as an agritourism faculty for OSU Extension Service).

Among many of the plans’ recommendations to stimulate industry growth, was a recommendation to form a nonprofit organization to support the independent and sustainable growth of the industry. To share this planning and development work statewide, the Master Plan for Agritourism in Clackamas County was made available as a resource publication at the first statewide Oregon Agritourism Summit held at OSU.

  • In 2012-13 as they implemented the Action Plan, TDC initiated a project to form a nonprofit agritourism organization to serve the agritourism industry segment. They tasked agritourism consultant Mary Stewart to do the groundwork to establish the nonprofit and paid the legal fees for the nonprofit registration. Tonkon Torp LLP Portland provided legal assistance.

Since there was no statewide organization to support agritourism at that time, TDC—as a leader in the state’s agritourism industry—decided to broaden the scope of the organization to potentially serve all Oregon counties. In order to measure the merit of the broader organizational concept, Travel Oregon’s Kristin Dahl was interviewed by the county’s agritourism consultant. Dahl indicated there would probably be a need for an organization to accomplish certain initiatives that were beyond the scope of Travel Oregon’s role. 

Simultaneously, as the scope of the nonprofit organization was under development, the three agritourism communities and driving routes (called jointly Oregon Farm Loop) located in Clackamas County, had matured to the point that they were ready to operate independently as a nonprofit. 

Historically, the Farm Loop concept was founded in 2007 by Mark and Mary Stewart. The first farm loop was launched in 2008. The development of these farm loops was supported by a combination of membership dues, grants, donations and volunteer time given by the farmer members and others. (A fourth farm loop was added in Marion County in 2017).

In August, 2014 The Oregon 501(c)3 nonprofit Oregon Agritourism Partnership (OAP) was officially formed and registered with the IRS.  

 

FIRST PROJECTS OF OREGON AGRITOURISM PARTNERSHIP

The organization was initiated to provide an organization when there was none in place. At startup, the organization was designed to carry out a limited number of immediate projects but more so, to be up to speed and with leadership in place ready to meet needs expressed in the future by the time the agritourism industry was ready to articulate needed projects and programs for the state.  In its startup mode, the organization purposefully appointed a very lean board and conducted little business.

The organization conservatively began with project development, grant writing and other funding efforts, including:  

  • A large grant ask–supported by the Willamette Valley Visitors Association RDMO–was made to Travel Oregon for support that would help grow the capacity of the nonprofit, but was not awarded the grant funding.
  • A grant project awarded by Clackamas TDC to establish and test agritourism limited liability sign design and installation.
  • In 2016, the organization became licensed to operate Oregon Farm Loop.
  • In 2016, OAP partnered with Clackamas TDC to present the Clackamas County Agritourism Summit at OSU’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center
  • In 2016, the OAP Board expanded the Agritourism Limited Liability sign program piloted in Clackamas County to statewide distribution, at the request of members of the industry. This project went statewide in 2017.
  • At all times, the organization was interested in hearing what projects and programs that could be undertaken and would be of value to the state.
  • Added members to the Board of Directors.