Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Your rural lifestyle + urban curiosity = agritourism in South Dakota

BROOKINGS, S.D. – If you have an idea for agritourism and aren’t sure how to move forward, or would like to do more to showcase your rural lifestyle, AgritourismSD may be for you. South Dakotans with direct ties to a farm or ranch and less than 10 years of agritourism experience may apply for AgritourismSD.

Applications are now being accepted for the second year of AgritourismSD, an intensive educational program offered by SDSU Extension.

To 80 percent of urban Americans, experiencing agriculture is a new opportunity. The pandemic highlighted many people’s interest in finding experiences closer to home and visiting rural America. “Agritourism” links the agricultural lifestyle with tourism to attract visitors to a farm or ranch for the purpose of entertainment and/or education while generating additional income for the farm or ranch. That can include everything from hunting lodges to corn mazes to pick-your-own produce spots to educational classes or work experiences.

SDSU Extension launched its first two-year AgritourismSD class in May 2021. Because of the success of the initial class and the continued interest in growing agritourism in South Dakota, a second class will be offered. The program is designed to help South Dakota agriculture producers think through new lines of revenue for their farms and ranches at a perfect time to attract people to rural areas.

The class focuses on five areas of agritourism: tours, accommodations, education, events, and local foods. Participants learn through study trips, interactive workshops, case studies, web-based interaction, and networking. Case studies showcase the good, bad, and ugly of starting an agritourism business.

Class 1 participants like Nancy Kirstein, owner of The Good Earth Farm by Lennox, said Agritourism SD was a “game changer.” In addition to the exposure to different business, Kirstein said the peer network and guidance for business planning, budgeting and marketing were invaluable.

“After years of contemplating and attempting different agritourism enterprises, this class helped me to focus my energies and figure out what works for me,” Kirstein said. “I was able to look at my business through a different lens and was connected with the right tools to help it succeed. I would encourage anyone who is contemplating an agritourism enterprise to make the investment in AgritourismSD.”

Leilani Grobschmit, another Class 1 participant, agrees. Grobschmit, who owns Prairie Heirloom Farm by Tyndall, said the business knowledge and resources she received during the class far exceeded her expectations, not to mention the access to hands-on visits to other agritourism enterprises in the state.

“AgritourismSD has been a fantastic experience for me,” she said. “The friendships that we as classmates and our teachers have created is also a totally invaluable community across this state. I feel extremely confident coming out of this program that I now have the tools I need to create a successful agritourism business!”

AgritourismSD is funded by a USDA National Institute Food and Agriculture Beginner Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant through SDSU Extension and in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Tourism.

Apply online at https://extension.sdstate.edu/agritourismsd-program. Applications are due Feb. 17, and the first session is planned for May.

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