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This week, KSMU's Missy Shelton reports from Europe on a journalism study tour funded by the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan American Public Policy and grantmaking institution that promotes trans-Atlantic relations. She's among eleven journalists taking part in the program. In this first in a series of reports, Missy Shelton takes a look at agri-tourism in Europe and Missouri. She begins in Poland, just outside Krakow where agri-tourism is a key part of the farm economy. (The interpreter for this story is Andrzej Michalik.)
Take a walk around "Agrobella" the agri-tourism farm of Leopold Grabowski and it doesn't take long to feel welcome...especially when he breaks out the black currant wine.
He says people come to his farm to relax, eat healthy food and do some sightseeing in the country.
Families with children are a prime target for agri-tourism farms in Missouri.
Tim Schnakenberg is an agriculture specialist with the University of Missouri Extension Southwest Office.
Schnakenberg says there are several different kinds of agri-tourism in Missouri: corn mazes, pumpkin patches, "you pick" operations where customers pick their own berries, wineries and horse ranches.
He says it's a way for farmers to generate some extra income.
Farmers in Poland are adept at marketing their agri-tourism operations because for many small farms, tourism is the main focus.
Again, Tim Schnakenberg with the University of Missouri Extension.
Polish farmer Leopold Grabowski says unlike his counterparts in Missouri, he has to engage in agri-tourism because his operation is so small.
Even though agri-tourism is not a necessity for Missouri farms like it is for some Polish farms, M-U extension specialist Tim Schnakenberg says Missouri farmers may not be taking full advantage of their potential to bring in customers.
Schnakenberg says he doesn't know of any statistics that document how many farms in Missouri engage in agri-tourism. But it's important enough that the state has spent some money on agri-tourism marketing in hopes of bringing more people to Missouri farms.