Valdosta Daily Times

October 23, 2013

Agri-tourism: Growing the future


The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — It only makes sense. So much sense, it’s surprising South Georgia hasn’t taken advantage of it more fully in the past.

Agri-tourism.

Events like the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie have been bringing other farmers to the region for decades. So why not agricultural features that have the potential of attracting both the farmers and non-farmers from our region and even other places?

Recently, Raisin’ Cane opened in Lowndes County. At Raisin’ Cane, visitors can enjoy a corn maze; local produce; see cows, chickens, lambs, pigs and ducks; take a hay ride; and enjoy different attractions based on the seasons.

It’s amazing to see how many city kids, and this includes kids from the City of Valdosta, have never been on a farm and how much they enjoy these visits. That goes for area adults, too.

Last week, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black visited Raisin’ Cane for a ribbon cutting and to promote agri-tourism in the state. Black also recognized the Lowndes County Commission as being the first local government to be recognized as Georgia Grown, meaning county officials are supportive of area farmers.

In many ways, agri-tourism is nothing new. Produce stands, farm-site corn mazes, you-pick-it produce, farm days, wineries have all become staples in our region during the past several years. The difference now is more people and more leaders are recognizing the potential of these ventures as ways of promoting area farms and boosting local economies. Literally, a home-grown industry.