Adding extra revenue streams to your farm

Post written by: Carrie Busic

Running a farm comes with more than its fair share of challenges — weather, energy costs and price volatility all contribute to uncertainty when it comes to revenue. One thing that farmers can do to help offset some of this risk is to add other revenue streams, such as “agritainment” — turning your farm into an entertaining venue for nonfarmers to visit with their families.

The type of venue you create will be based partially on the types of crops you raise. For example, cornfields turn into corn mazes, perhaps paired with pumpkin patches or hayrides, depending on the time of the year. This is a basic option that, with a little promotion, can draw in a fair number of visitors during what might traditionally be a slow time on the farm, generating needed revenue.

Some farmers take it a step further, hosting a petting zoo or bounce houses, creating a more carnival-like atmosphere, complete with pony rides or games.

These events not only provide revenue, they also provide a great opportunity to teach others about the farming lifestyle. Tours of fields, equipment displays and lectures about how the farm operates teach nonfarmers about the source of their food and why farming is important, and also give farmers a chance to share pointers on how to pick out the best produce at the local market. Educational events also help the public understand why spreading manure may smell bad for a short time but yields a better crop for the family’s dinner table.

Once the public is on the farm, this is a great time to present them with fresh produce from your farm, selling direct to the customer. Whether it’s a pick-your-own operation or a small stand set up near the entertainment, don’t miss out on the chance to sell your goods fresh from the field.

With opportunity, however, comes risk that needs to be properly managed. Visitors to your farm could range from a few dozen to even a thousand or more, so you need to be prepared for the additional risks.

  • Slips-and-falls is an area that needs addressed, as is equipment safety.
  • That old trailer is great for dragging around bales of hay, but when it’s full of people and the axle breaks, you may end up with more than a minor inconvenience on your hands.
  • Even something as simple as a parked car sitting on top of dry cornstalks could lead to a fire, which may result in property damage and lawsuits.

So whether you are already promoting your farm as agritainment, or thinking about doing so, get an insurance agent out to your property to assess the risks involved to make sure you are covered. He or she can help you game plan for your event and mitigate the risks involved, so you can focus on the rewards.