CALDWELL, Idaho — Rural Idaho sees a promising future in 'agritourism,' which combines local food like wine, cheese and fruit with lodging and entertainment.
The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Ron and Mary Bitner's refurbished bed and breakfast in the heart of Canyon County's rolling farmland above the Snake River is drawing good reviews.
They say visitors are coming from Salt Lake City, spend hundreds of dollars to eat and sleep, and add additional dollars to the Idaho economy through purchases of fuel and products from other businesses. A couple from Salt Lake went online and blogged about their good experience, Ron Bitner said.
"It's been good marketing for us, and we're just amazed by how fast things spread just by using social media," he said.
Idaho isn't alone. It's happening elsewhere, too. Some Virginians hope their state will pass legislation to help agritourism operations. In Arkansas, some are turning to the idea to help reverse the decline of small- and medium-size farms.
At the G Bar M Ranch on Brackett Creek near Clyde Park, Mont., a fourth-generation rancher is pushing the notion of chopping wood, feeding chickens and herding cattle not as work, but a vacation for city slickers looking for a piece of Western authenticity.
Boise's Peaceful Belly farm has been producing organically grown vegetables on its 70-acre ecologically sustainable urban farm for 160 families, as well as local farmer's markets, stores and restaurants.
But last year, it added dinners with its locally-produced food, a move that secured recognition for the operation in national food magazine Bon Appetit.
To help give this nascent trend a boost, Idaho Division of Tourism is working on statewide initiatives to promote year-round culinary events and package deals.