Agricultural offerings of the Silver Creek, Yankee Flats and Falkland will be given the spotlight as part of a pilot project being planned by the regional district.
At its meeting on July 20, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) board supported a recommendation from tourism marketing co-ordinator Stephanie Goodey that the regional district enter an agreement with the Culinary Tourism Alliance for assistance in developing the Shuswap Farm Gate Trail Project in Electoral Area D for $37,500 plus taxes.
Asked if the program would include other areas of the CSRD, Goodey explained the goal of the pilot project is to create a formula for how to move forward and if that’s successful, “we’ll apply it to all of the other regions within the Shuswap.”
In a report to the board, Goodey explained that in May of this year, Shuswap Tourism received $100,000 from the B.C. government’s Destination Development Fund, intended for the development and rejuvenation of tourism infrastructure, assets and experience. The funding is going towards the development of the farm gate trail project to help promote local producers and their homegrown and homemade products.
“Farm stands are a popular experience and a driver for agritourism,” reads the report. “Staff is proposing a Farm Gate Tour through Electoral Area D to create an exciting visitor experience that supports local farmers, increases tourism to the regional economy and expands into shoulder season travel.”
Goodey explained the Culinary Tourism Alliance comes recommended as it is “currently the only Canadian-based company that specializes in food tourism with a strong background in creating food-based tourism assets throughout Canada.”
In a May media release, CSRD Shuswap Tourism and Film Commission team leader Morgen Matheson said “agritourism has shown to be a strong motivator for travel in the Thompson Okanagan.”
“Agriculture is a huge asset in the Shuswap,” said Matheson. “With over 600 large and small-scale producers, we feel there is an opportunity to develop a compelling highly valuable visitor experience that will continue to grow tourism in the Shuswap as a four-season destination.”
Maria Otting of Highland Meadows Farm in Silver Creek is excited about the project and has been helping Matheson with its development.
“We came up with a survey and got it out to all the people I know out here in the Salmon Valley… all the people that would be potentially interested in being on the agritourism farm stand map that Shuswap Tourism is doing next year…,” said Otting. “There will be a website, there will be signage at your farm to say you are part of the farm stand trail.”
This is the second year Highland Meadows Farm has had a farm stand along Salmon River Road. Otting said on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. it serves as a farm stand market where other local growers/producers sell their wares. Otting anticipates the Farm Gate Tour will benefit everyone involved.
“The trail will really help the businesses sell their products here, and also give an opportunity for others to… create their own farm stands or grow their business at their current stand,” said Otting.
Another perk of the planned Farm Gate Tour map will be the provision of information specific to individual stands such as the days and hours when they’re open.
“You have to be more specific because you don’t want tourists driving from Summerland or Chase expecting when something is going to be open when it’s not because we are just little businesses and so many of us farmers have regular jobs and do this on the side…,” said Otting.
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