Mark Twain is one individual whose writings and quotes I have always enjoyed, beginning at an early age. After all these years that his pen been has been silent, I still run across quotes that are so relevant to today’s events and happenings. He once wrote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” That little statement alone could very easily apply to the current issues facing this country and how we come out of the things that seem to be making the circuit these days. Twain also said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” That one quote may be the one many of our folks who run the 24-hour newscasts on TV have taken to heart.
But there are still those out there who are still interested in just doing things the right way. A group of folks I have worked with over the years, who enjoy being in the background at times and seem to rather remain humble when it comes to spreading the news about what they do and have accomplished, are starting to learn that to become a part of the agritourism industry, one has to do some marketing or a little bragging at times. A farmer told me one time that he didn’t like to brag about his products and thought it just wasn’t right to do so. He may have remembered what Twain said about bragging. He said, “Bragging and braying were one in the same. The only difference is one came from an animal with longer ears.”
Mark Twain may have had something there, but if you are going to be successful in today’s agri-marketing business model you will have to become involved in promoting your product and farmers across this state are doing so everyday. In fact, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is even teaching them how to do so. They are holding workshops in the coming months to teach farmers how to brand their products and talk to groups about what they do. “It may be uncomfortable to speak in front of people to promote your farm and all it has to offer. But successful agritourism operators know that long-term marketing and advertising are the fertilizers that make your operation grow,” said Pamela Bartholomew, TDA agritourism coordinator. “This year, our three statewide agritourism workshops will focus on those skills.”
Agritourism continues to grow around Tennessee with farmers using their farms as a way to make additional income other than the traditional way from farm production. Many have pick-your-own produce operations, corn mazes, petting farms, trail rides, Christmas tree farms, fall festivals and other activities that invite consumers to visit the farms in their area. There is even a website you can go to that lists numerous farms across the state that are involved in agritourism. The site is www.tennesseeagritourism.organd has a lot of information about Tennessee agritourism.
Farmers who want to attend this year’s workshops need to be making their plans to do so. The agritourism workshops will be held in Nashville on August 29, in Jackson on August 30 and in White Pine on September 1. The workshops are free to registered guests and lunch will be provided. For farmers who also participate in the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program, attendance at one of these events will help meet the TAEP requirements. An 8:30 a.m. ““ 9 a.m. registration time is open for those who do not register in advance. For information about the workshops or to register you may call the Tennessee Department of Agriculture at 615-837-5160.
“Like any crop, agritourism doesn’t just happen,” said Bartholomew. “There’s a lot of advance planning, labor, inputs and timing involved.” The workshops will feature marketing professionals to help participants learn the components of effective advertising, logos and other marketing tools essential for sustained success. Sessions include an exploration of product branding and the process of logo development. Participants will also be presented information from TDA on the range of state programs and opportunities for the Tennessee agritourism operators, including how to become part of the longstanding Pick Tennessee Products promotional campaign.
There is a lot in Tennessee agriculture to brag about and the ear length really doesn’t matter.
– Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com