The Agritourism sector, which this week (20th May 2014) held its first Monitor Farm Meeting, is set to have a bright future.
That’s the consensus of the fifty or so participants who travelled from far and wide to Peel Farm in Angus to take part in the first session of an 18-month project designed to boost the sector, share best practice and create a real sense of identity amongst Scotland’s agri-tourism businesses.
Funded by Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government and facilitated by Go Rural Consulting, the inaugural meeting entitled ‘First Impressions Count’ centered around reviewing the Peel Farm visitor experience.
The ‘critics’, made up of some of the most respected members of the agricultural, tourism and catering industries, considered the complete Peel Farm offer which combines a farm shop and coffee shop, farm accommodation and a small-scale food production unit.
Feedback – both positive and negative – was then presented in an open forum to discuss with opportunities identified to improve both the visitor experience and the profitability of the business.
Amongst the attendees were experts from the agri-tourism supply chain including bankers, lawyers and marketeers who each provided professional advice and shared best practice.
Commenting on the experience co-owner Claire Fleming said: “This was a hugely valuable experience in which key industry experts constructively reviewed the Peel Farm offer and provided valuable advice as to how we can shape the future of our business, safe in the knowledge that the feedback is robust and trusted. I would like to thank the attendees who were honest, positive and willing to give us the benefit of their expertise, some bourne from mistakes they had made in their own business. What is clear to me is that the agri-tourism sector already has a strong sense of community.”
Commenting on the meeting Caroline Millar from Go Rural Consulting said: “The willingness to share best practice, which was clearly evident from this first meeting, demonstrates that there is a ambition to grow the industry. We are confident the Monitor Farm project will provide valuable information not only for the Fleming family but also for those attending. Knowledge transfer is most certainly two-way. "
Jacqueline Green, Project Manager from Scottish Enterprise, added: “Monitor Farms is a tried and tested method of developing and sharing best practice, inputs and data which provide robust and valuable information to other businesses, and look forward to using this model with the agri-tourism sector.
A report of the meeting can be found on www.goruralforbusiness.com, from Friday 23rd May.
The South of Scotland Monitor Farm will host its first session on Tuesday 3rd June, Laggan Outdoor, Gatehouse of Fleet DG7 2ES from . To register to attend the first meeting please visit www.goruralforbusiness.com.