Bath Joins Highland County In Agritourism Initiative Fields Of Gold
Warm Springs, Va – In Bath and Highland counties plans are underway to participate in the Fields of Gold initiative. Fields of Gold will highlight agritourism in the Shenandoah Valley region which also includes Augusta, Rockingham, Rockbridge and Shenandoah counties. Bath and Highland want to promote businesses and events that will appeal to tourists who want an agricultural experience.
Carolyn Pohowsky is the Executive Director of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. “This also presents a business opportunity for people who are in the agricultural business to expand their business to include tourism,” says Pohowsky. “I would say tourism in Highland and Bath is a very important part of our economy. And if we can create a partnership between the industries of tourism and agriculture I think it’s a win-win situation. These are our two biggest industries.”
Fields of Gold is being spearheaded by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership. The agencies are using grant money to market the Shenandoah Valley as an agritourism destination.
Scott Smith is the Agricultural Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center.
“So much of this is driven these days by people wanting to have that greater connection with their heritage, with their roots, not only that but with the knowledge of where their food comes from,” says Smith. “They want to be able to see the people that made it, they want to be able to get to the place where it was produced and grown and I think that’s a big thing that’s driving this larger interest in agritourism as well.”
The Maple Festival in Highland County is an example of an agritourism event. That festival has been going on for fifty three years, long before agritourism had a name. And the Harvest Moon Festival in Bath is also an agritourism event.
Farmers markets, roadside stands, bed and breakfast establishments that offer a hands on farm experience and the Ag Center that’s under construction in Highland are all agritourism businesses. Once the Ag Center is up and running it will provide the opportunity to purchase locally sourced meat at restaurants and stores. To get the Fields of Gold initiative under way, a survey has been developed to catalog what already exists in the area and to find out what is out there that can be developed further.
Maggie Anderson is the Director of Tourism for Bath County.
“We’re also using this as an opportunity to explore with businesses in both of our counties the opportunities that agritourism presents,” says Anderson. “Sometimes people do what they do all day and don’t think anybody else is interested in how you shear sheep or how you train a sheepdog or how you grow certain types of vegetables. And Carolyn and I and Scott will be working very closely to reach out to businesses and farmers and folks in the community who might want to learn how to grow their business and perhaps take advantage of this great opportunity.”
The survey can be completed online or you can request a hard copy. It’s preferable to have the survey completed by November 30.
For more information about Field of Gold and the survey, contact Maggie Anderson at 540-839-7202 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Carolyn Pohowsky at 540-468-2550 (email@example.com).
The survey can be found online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Fields_of_Gold