Business

Agritourism

A large part of the County’s identity is tied to agrarian lifestyles and values. This identity stems from generations of family farms and a history of leading the State in dairy production. Strengthening this identity over time may have its challenges as farming operations change throughout the County. To help overcome these challenges, similar counties have helped strengthen their agricultural identity through agritourism and nature tourism.

"Minnesota State Statue 604A.40. defines agritourism activity as an activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows organizations or members of the general public, for recreational, entertainment, charitable, or educational purposes, to view, enjoy, or participate in rural activities, including, but not limited to: farming; viticulture; wine making; ranching; and historical, cultural, farm stay, gleaning, harvest-your-own, or natural activities and attractions. An activity is an agritourism activity whether or not the participant pays to participate in the activity."


Policies

  1. Agritourism businesses are subject to zoning restrictions, building codes, compliance with the Minnesota Accessibility Code, taxation, and business permits.
  2. Review high attendance agritourism activities to ensure mitigation of negative traffic impacts.
  3. Agritourism-related businesses located in the agricultural areas of the County should follow the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Factors to minimize conflicts with adjacent land uses and natural resources.

Agritourism

The business of establishing farms as destinations for educational experiences and entertainment uses, while helping increase the farm income.

Examples of Agritourism:

  • Agricultural Museums
  • Breakfast/Dinner on the Farm
  • Corn Mazes
  • Cut-your-own Christmas Tree Farms
  • Demonstration Farms
  • Event Venues (Barn Weddings)
  • Garden & Barn Tours
  • Hay Rides
  • Living History Farms
  • On-farm Farmers’ Markets
  • Petting and Feeding zoos
  • Pumpkin Picking Patches
  • Rural Bed & Breakfasts and Farm-stays
  • U-Pick Operations
  • Winery, Brewery, and Distillery Tours/Tasting

Nature Tourism

Based on attractions that reconnect people with nature and provide outdoor recreational opportunities.

Many aspects of agritourism and nature tourism have been established directly or indirectly throughout the County. Some of the most widely recognized events include Breakfast on the Farm and local festivals that celebrate its agricultural history (e.g., Pioneer Days in Albany). Other examples include regional destinations such as the Lake Wobegon Trail, Dairy Land Trail, and Quarry Park. Combined, these programs and amenities create a unique identity for Stearns County.

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