Officials: Nevada’s agritourism industry has plenty of room to grow
Nevada News Group
FALLON, Nev. — The Nevada Farms Conference recently wrapped up a successful event in Fallon, providing tours and discussions from area businesses about improving farming techniques and marketing agritourism across the Silver State.
While many workshops and discussions catered to specific audiences, the city of Fallon, along with other professionals in marketing, presented information on the agritourism industry.
Jane Moon, the city’s director of Tourism and Special Events, said agritourism in Nevada is like a small community.
“We need to find ways to keep people coming back,” she said.
The panel consisted of Moon’s predecessor, Rick Gray, now with Osborne Gray Marketing; Rick Lattin, owner of Lattin Farms west of Fallon; Ann Louhela, project director of Western Nevada College’s Specialty Crop Institute; Natalie and Cameron Andelin of Andelin Farms; and Shari Bombard, Travel Nevada’s rural programs manager.
Gray, who spent more than 20 years with the city of Fallon, said agritourism needs to have a community tourism ingredient in order to be successful. He said the annual summer Fallon Cantaloupe Festival showcases the agricultural community as do local wineries. Local farms also have the potential for hosting weddings and receptions.
“Fallon does it well to incorporate it into its overall strategy,” he said.
When people come to the Fallon area to visit a specific destination, Gray said it’s important to keep them busy for at least four hours. Other venues, such as the Churchill County Museum or the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge, are important to promote for visitors.
Others, like Lattin Farms, build in activities to keep visitors engaged.
Gray said illustrations on brochures touting agritourism have become more and more important for the area’s branding.
About a decade ago, Fallon offered Tractors & Truffles, which gave visitors a farm-to-plate event, in addition to Spring Wings, farmers markets and the aforementioned cantaloupe festival.
Gray said it was the city’s hope people came out to have dinner at the Tractors & Truffles event, and by word of mouth, say what a great event it was.
“Churchill Vineyards started out as an experiment in water use,” he said of the winery located on the historic Frey Ranch property in Fallon. “Grapes take a fraction of the water.”
In a short time, he added, Frey Ranch has gone from selling wine to making spirits such as bourbon.
Providing another example — the Dairy Farms of America opened a dry milk facility in 2014.
Over time, Moon said Fallon will benefit from continued agritourism marketing, which aligns with Travel Nevada’s goals to bring visitors to the state, in particular rural areas across Northern Nevada.
“We want to let people know how special we are,” Bombard said. “We do a lot of marketing and a lot of way to include our partners.”
Bombard said her agency can help farmers and ranchers expand their agritourism endeavors by showing them grant opportunities and how to apply for them.
“You build it, and we will help you with your visitors,” she said.
Louhela said she wants people to come to the farms. A festival, she said, could attract as many as 10,000 people — pointing to the annual Lavender and Honey Festival in Sparks, which has grown over the years to attract 25 farms and 15,000 people.
“We have thousands of consumers in one location,” she pointed out.
Louhela also said many people, even those who live in the larger urban areas, don’t realize Nevada has agriculture.
As a result of her effort and those of the Nevada tourism industry, she said communities across the state are adding farm-related events to their calendars, such as the Reno Garlic Festival.
In addition to agritourism, attendees also had the opportunity to learn more about lean farming, soil health, financing and tax planning for farmers, technology in agriculture, new crops in Nevada, hemp production, and hoop houses.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.