Vermont connects agritourism operators around the globe during COVID-19

Today many Americans have no direct connection to farm life, even in rural areas. By offering authentic farm experiences for visitors, agritourism operators provide recreational, educational and immersive experiences for the public while promoting a betterunderstanding of the various facets of agriculture, including its importance to the local economy. Agritourism generates a revenue stream for producers while also helping to preserve agricultural heritage. COVID-19forced many agritourism enterprises togo to a virtual format. University of VermontExtension and the International Workshop on Agritourism hosted a series of free webinars called Virtual Agritourism Gatherings. The series reached 1,704 unique registrants representing 66 countries. The most countries represented were the United States,Canada, Italy, Romania, and South Africa.Participants included producers, cooperative Extension personnel, researchers, nonprofits, educators, tourism professionals, and entrepreneurs. A diverse number of topics were addressed ranging from COVID-19 safety protocols for agritourism operations and creating virtual farm events to racial justice and regional strategies for agritourism development. When respondents were asked about the benefits of attending the virtual agritourism gatherings, 98% reported “increased my understanding of topics,” 91% said “provided ideas on how to access resources related to my work,” and 90% said “met my professional development needs.”