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Town seeking input to help develop agritourism strategy

- An online forum is scheduled for February 18 -


by Sylene Argent

Photos courtesy of the Town of Essex

The Town of Essex is currently undertaking an agritourism strategy, and looks forward to getting feedback from local farm operators and food and beverage producers to formulate the document that will be the driving force behind how the Town will proceed with initiatives in the future that will benefit the industry.  

  The agritourism strategy will be designed to help increase tourism at agricultural producers and businesses, such as area wineries, farmers markets, and similar businesses that fall under the designation. It will also layout the Town’s tourism priorities over the next several years.

  The Town is working with the not-for-profit organization, Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA), which is acting as a consultant to formulate the agritourism strategy.

  “They are really going to be driving this virtual industry forum, and the point of it is really to get feedback from the agritourism stakeholders, which are agritourism businesses,” Nelson Silveira, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Essex, said.

  Those types of businesses could include winemakers, to farmers, to producers of beverages and foods.

  “We want their feedback,” Silveira said, adding the best way thought to go about it was to host an industry forum, where everyone could get together and comment, rather than just hosting a survey.

  Local producers and agricultural business owners are invited to attend a Virtual Industry Forum on Thursday, February 18, which will take place from 9:30 am to 11:30am. The event will inform participants about agritourism, and they will also be able to provide their feedback on opportunities to expand agritourism opportunities within the Town of Essex.

  The live virtual forum will feature presentation from Caroline Millar, a world-renowned agritourism industry specialist, who operates a 650-acre mixed farm in Scotland and The Hideaway Experience accommodations with her family. Silveira noted that of that farm she operates, she only uses .6 of an acre for the portion dedicated to agritourism.

  “It is driving the fact home that it is really about diversifying what you already have in order to potentially increase revenue on the farm,” he added.

  Discussion could centre around possible policy or zoning changes, or identifying funding for increased marketing strategies.  

  Local farm operators, or food or beverage producers, that are currently engaged in agritourism, or considering it as a future business opportunity, can sign-up to participate in the virtual event by filling out the online form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TSXAgritourism or by emailing nsilveira@essex.ca.

  The agritourism document will be completed by the end of March. The Town of Essex received $25,000 from the Provincial government through the Tourism Economic Development Recovery Fund to create the document.