Workshops and Support for Agritourism in the Northeast

March 21st, 2013 by Hyung Park

Northern New Hampshire is blessed with an abundance of both farmland and forest. Many of the state’s rural residents depend on this land for their livelihoods. A good example is agritourism, a specific type of rural, land-­‐based tourism broadly defined as any activity that encourages people to visit a farm. Agritourism activities can include pick-­‐your-­‐own fruits and vegetables, horseback riding, petting zoos, corn mazes, even weddings, parties, and other events.

In the past decade, agritourism has become one of the fastest-­‐growing segments of the tourism industry. This growth has meant new challenges for farmers, in areas such as insurance, technology and e-­‐commerce, food safety, legal counsel, and financial management.

Responding to the growing needs of agritourism farmers, the Center for Rural Partnerships (CRP), in conjunction with UVM Extension and the Northeast Center for Risk Management Education, created a series of workshops designed to help Farmers manage the risks associated with having visitors on their farm. These workshops focused on a three-­‐tool policy for managing risk, which included:

  • Seeking the help and advice of experts
  • Creating a support network of stakeholders
  • Developing a personalized risk management plan

During the course of the project, approximately 85 farmers took advantage of the CRP’s risk-­‐management workshops. Insurance agents, marketing specialists, local extensions specialists, farmers and foresters were all on hand to offer expertise and network with participants. By the end of each workshop, the participants had engaged with each other and the experts to develop a deeper understanding of the strategies for managing risk, and many had even developed personalized working plans to take back to their farms.

Although developing an Agritourism business can seem overwhelming at first, the workshops showed that landowners and farmers of all skill level could successfully develop and implement the tools of risk management, ensuring positive agricultural and rural experiences for their visitors.

North Country Economic Index

March 20th, 2013 by mcote9

After battling year after year of a fluctuating economy, New Hampshire is seeing a great divide develop between the Northern and Southern regions of the state. While the Southern region is able to survive off of more job and economic opportunities due to its proximity to major cities, highways and populace, the Northern region is facing obstacles due to a slow decline in some of its major industries such as agriculture, tourism and milling.

Dan Lee, an Associate Professor of Economics at Plymouth State who is affiliated with the Center for Rural Partnerships, wanted to further study these changes and their impact on the economy of the North Country. With support from the Neil and Louse Tillotson fund of the NH Charitable Foundation, the College of Business Administration, and others at the state and institutional level, he created the North Country Economic Index (NCEI), a quarterly report detailing the economic conditions of New Hampshire’s North Country.

The mission of the NCEI is to bring a voice to the North Country by providing accurate statistical information specific to Coos, Carroll and Grafton Counties. Most economic indexes generalize an entire state, while overlooking nuanced regional information and variables that may help to better explain a region’s economic situation. The NCEI focuses on four major areas of study: manufacturing and trade sales, housing, production, and employment.

The data and analysis provided each quarter will help policy makers, community leaders, non-­‐profit managers, and government officials make well-­‐rounded decisions benefitting both their communities and the economy of New Hampshire as a whole.

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