Adding Agritourism to the Farm Business Plan
Adding value back to the farm can come from a number of sources. Allan Robinette said for his family, implementing an agritoursim element was one way to make the most out of their small family farm.
Robinette… “Back in the 60s going into the 70s, my grandfather saw that we just didn’t have a big enough farm to survive as a wholesale farm. We’ve got really 35 acres we can grow on, and that’s just not big enough to survive. So he looked at what are other farms doing around the country to try and survive and make an income with what they have.”
Robinette says one of the major benefits of being a retail-only operation is their planting flexibility.
Robinette… “One of the great advantages that we have as a small farm that’s entirely retail is I can experiment with brand new varieties that are interesting, with let’s say 100 trees there and 100 trees there, where if I was a wholesale farm you know with 10 times the amount of land, I’m going to plant Gala, I’m going to plant Macintosh - stuff that I know that I can sell to grocery stores.”
Robinette says offering a u-pick experience also helps to alleviate some of the costs of farm labor.
Robinette… “We’re very lucky that we’re a small farm so we don’t need to rely on programs like H2A or guest worker programs to be able to get by, and u-pick has really eased that stress of can we get all the fruit picked.”
That’s Allan Robinette, fifth generation farmer of Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery in Michigan.