Agritourism gets green light from Weber County

Dec 22 2012 - 8:29pm

Images

(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
A pond at Kelley Creek Farm in Huntsville earlier in December. Owner Patsy Dickens wants to hold events at her farm and has worked with Weber County the past two years to create an ordinance to promote agritourism.
(KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
A pond at Kelley Creek Farm in Huntsville earlier in December. Owner Patsy Dickens wants to hold events at her farm and has worked with Weber County the past two years to create an ordinance to promote agritourism.

OGDEN -- Weber County now has another way to bring in tourists.

The county commission adopted an agritourism ordinance during its meeting this week.

With the commission's approval, the county adds a new chapter, Chapter 46 to be exact, to its zoning ordinance. The chapter governs agritourism and amends any other rules to comply with the new zoning ordinance.

The move is good news for Monty Davis, owner of Little Weber Farms.

He has wanted to hold activities at his farm for some time.

Davis runs a Community Supported Agriculture farm where customers buy a share of the farm's produce that includes a weekly delivery for the whole harvest season.

He believes agritourism will help his business grow and may encourage young people, like himself, to consider farming as a career.

With the commission's approval of the ordinance, he plans to have activities that focus on children, such as Easter egg hunts, pig races and tractor-driving lessons.

Existing farms benefit as well.

The ordinance's architect, Weber County Planner Scott Mendoza, said through agritourism, the county can help preserve farmland, maintain food independence, limit urban sprawl and provide affordable educational opportunities.

The integrity of the farm, however, will remain. The ordinance only allows 20 percent of a farm to be used for agritourism.

But the ordinance will allow farming operations to be open to the public, leaving the door open for farms to remain open year-round and host farmers markets, you-pick operations, farm stays or bed-and-breakfasts.

Commissioner Kerry Gibson, who himself is a farmer, is glad the ordinance passed.

"Obviously, agriculture is near and dear to my heart, and having a strong and thriving agriculture community in our county is vitally important to our quality of life," he said.

"The commission is always looking for tools to maintain the vibrancy of agriculture in our community."

Gibson said he wanted the ordinance to foster creativity and allow people to use their ingenuity to bring events and people to the farm and tell agriculture stories.

Utah Office of Tourism Deputy Director Tracie Cayford said agritourism is growing around the country and around the world, especially with the growing popularity of the farm-to-table concept, a movement to produce and deliver food locally.

Agritourism allows people to see where their food comes from, Cayford said.

With tourism being one of the state's largest income generators, estimated at $6.5 billion a year, agritourism also gives the state a draw outside of traditional outdoor activities, such as skiing and mountain biking.

"Utah really is a year-round destination, and we continue to follow trends and promote Utah as a year-round destination," Cayford said.

Even with the ordinance approved, the commission expects to make adjustments as the need arises.

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