Agritourism: Where Good Eating and Outdoor Recreation Come Together

A little girl is surrounded by strawberry plants

With Memorial Day kicking off the unofficial start of summer, there are all kinds of things to be excited about in the coming months. Summer is a great time for kids to be outside and go on adventures. It’s also when tons of delicious fruits and veggies are in season. While seasonal eating can mean enjoyable food year-round, fresh summer melons and berries are often especially appealing options to young palates, even picky eaters. It could be strawberries, green beans, watermelon, or tomatoes, but there’s something for everyone to love about food in the summer.

two kids hold potted tomato plants

Whether you’re getting ready to spend time with kids in your family, gearing up for youth-focused summer programming, or just wondering what to bring to a neighborhood event, it’s worth incorporating seasonal foods into meals, snack times, or your favorite potluck dishes if you’re able. Try checking out a seasonal food guide to figure out when different types of produce are available in your area. Fresh local foods can be more expensive than highly processed ones, but many small-scale farmers are eager to work with youth organizations when they can and lots of farmers' markets accept SNAP benefits to help make seasonal, fresh food more accessible.

a mother and daughter have a picnic

In addition to introducing summer fruits and veggies to the kids in your life, agritourism is also a fun summer activity that helps support local food systems, get kids active outside, and build agricultural literacy. Agritourism is when the public is invited onto a working farm for recreation and education. This might include strawberry picking, food or beverage tastings, farm tours and hayrides, or other seasonal events. Visiting a farm isn’t just a fun way to be outside and get moving, it also helps kids (and adults) learn about where food comes from and how farms work. This kind of knowledge is called agricultural literacy. Agricultural literacy is an important investment for young people because it helps them make informed decisions about purchasing food, healthy eating, and supporting sustainable food systems for the rest of their lives.

a boy eats a piece of mango in a kitchen

There are agritourism sites all across the U.S. that vary by different states’ agricultural industries and geographies. Try looking at an agritourism directory for ideas about visiting an agritourism site in your state. Above all else, when you’re thinking about ways to build seasonal foods and contact with food systems into the lives of kids, don’t feel like you have to go big. Figure out what’s feasible and makes sense for your program or your family. Try buying some local fruit for a snack, planting something yourself, or just talking to the kids around you about what they like to eat and what they know about where food comes from. If it’s a reasonable option, visiting an agritourism farm to pick your own produce or learn about agriculture in your community is a great way to engage kids in local food systems. Whichever plan of action makes the most sense in your context, this summer is the perfect time to get started!