Food Tourism on Farms

by Caroline Millar, Go Rural

There’s something about the heightened sensation of eating food right at the place of its origin. Something happens in your brain that makes the food taste so much better, once you have understood where it has come from, how it was grown or reared, met the people who have lovingly produced it and heard the story about their own unique product.

It would be hard to find a richer experience than visiting a farm, enjoying an engaging and entertaining tour, then sitting around a table either with your own family or complete strangers and eating the food or drink in the beautiful surroundings. The same can be said for going out on a boat with a fisherman, catching your dinner, then either cooking it yourself or having it cooked for you.

Farmers produce food. That’s what we do. We also do other things such as look after the countryside and care for the environment but, first and foremost, we produce food to feed the nation and tourists who come here.

Agritourism, for me, is fundamentally about food and drink.  That’s what sets us apart from the rest of our thriving rural tourism industry. The benefits are two-way. Visitors to the farm have a unique experience – no two farming families or farms are the same, no two farming stories are the same and the food and drink produced is not the same. For farmers, we get the chance to speak directly to consumers, the people we depend upon to buy our produce from supermarket shelves and in cafes and restaurants. We can do the sales and marketing job for agriculture while getting paid by people for a farm tour and tasting experience.

Farm tours, food experiences on farms – either around the kitchen table or pop- up events, farm restaurants and cafes – is the future of Scottish agritourism. The days of staying on a farm with no local food or farm experience are gone.

There are already some great examples of food tourism on farms in Scotland as well as many others I’ve discovered on my world travels. Here are just a few:

Scotland

  1. Isle of Mull Cheese, Sgriob-ruadh Farm, Tobermory, Isle of Mull

www.isleofmullcheese.co.uk

Visit for the day or stay on the Isle of Mull’s only dairy farm.  Set in a beautiful location just outside the main town Tobermory, you can take a tour of the farm and watch the cows being milked, watch the cheese being made, learn about this history of the farm, then enjoy a delicious meal in the farm café. The farm produces award winning Isle of Mull Cheddar and a delicious Hebridean Blue Cheese. As well as visiting the farm for the day or to buy produce to take home, you can also stay on holiday on the farm in accommodation.

 

  1. Newton Farm Holidays and Tours, Forfar, Angus

www.newtonfarmholidays.co.uk

The Nicol family provide traditional farmhouse hospitality in their farmhouse bed and breakfast in Angus. The bed and breakfast won ‘Most Hospitable B&B’ for the whole of Scotland in the national Thistle Awards 2018/19. Guests receive a hearty breakfast including fresh eggs they themselves can collect from the hens before being cooked. Only local Angus produce is used. The farm tours are also award- winning and open for both overnight and day guests, giving visitors an insight into life on a real working farm.

  1. Grierson Organics Farm Tours

www.hughgrierson.co.uk

The Grierson family provide engaging farm tour experiences on their organic farm outside Perth where they produce the highest quality Aberdeen Angus beef, lamb, pork and chicken. Committed ‘foodies’, Sascha and Hugh provide personal food experiences of a farm tour followed by a hearty meal of their own produce around the farmhouse kitchen table or in in a rustic event space on the farm. Visitors can buy farm produce to enjoy at home.

Worldwide

  1. Porereil Casale, Pienza, Tuscany, Italy

www.podereilcasale.com

So far, my favourite food tourism experience on a farm, anywhere. A good few miles up a single-track road in south Tuscany you will find the most beautiful farm overlooking a UNESCO world heritage site. Sandra and Ulisse hand milk goats and sheep twice a day and produce award winning cheese, exported globally. They provide a first-class tour of the farm and cheese production area, followed by a traditional Italian lunch or dinner with everyone around one table enjoying a 5-course tasting menu of their own produce. You can also stay on the farm and enjoy cookery courses.

 

  1. Elmhirsts Resort, Keene, Ontario, Canada

www.elmhirst.ca

The Elmhirst family have managed to combine running a farm with growing a large on farm tourism resort set on a stunning lake about two hours north east of Toronto.  The farm produce – beef, turkey, duck and seasonal vegetables – is produced solely for use in the farm kitchen restaurant which caters for guests staying in cabins and lodges, the business event market and weddings. Farm tours are provided either in a tractor and trailer or horse and cart. An example of a farming family, passionate about food and giving a unique farm gate to plate experience. They even have a wine cellar and provide tastings of Ontarios’s best wines.

 

  1. Curringa Farm, Hamilton, Tasmania, Australia

www.curringafarm.com

Tim and Jane Parsons’ farm tours have won several awards for their entertaining and educational insight into farming life in Australia. This farm business has scaled up to cater for the international tour market and is very experienced in delivering tours and on- farm dining to large bus groups. I haven’t come across many farmers learning new languages to deliver a first-class service to international tourists, but Tim learned Mandarin to do just that. His tour is now ready for the Chinese market, with fully translated website too. The farm produces lamb, cabbage seeds and poppies. Traditional farmhouse home baking is provided after each tour or you can enjoy a BBQ lunch with lamb from the farm and other locally sourced Tasmania produce.

 

Caroline Millar, Go Rural

Caroline Millar has travelled to many countries in the world researching best practice in agritourism, seeking out the best food and educational experiences on farms. With her husband Ross she runs the family farm in south Angus, and a 5- star tourism business on the farm, The Hideaway Experience. The best local farmed and fished produce is sourced for guests ahead of their stay and guests can enjoy personal farm tours and picnics.

She also project manages Scottish Enterprise agritourism monitor farm programme.

Follow on twitter @CASMillar @LuxuryHideaways

http://www.goruralscotland.com/