“Farmers in rural Thurston County hope agritourism efforts will encourage
customers to buy directly from the growers, instead of the store.”
Photo courtesy: Helsing Junction Farm, Rochester, WA
“Connecting with Thurston County’s farms”
“With new marketing, membership efforts under way, 2016 could be hallmark year for agritourism around the state capital area.”
“Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero explains she was moved to help the region’s farms before they are forgotten and lost to time. Farmers are aging out, land is getting expensive and it’s getting harder and harder for new farmers to enter the market. Since 1975, the county has lost over 75 percent of its working agricultural lands, and in a five-year period from 2002 to 2007, it has lost 50 percent of the remaining farmland, according to the Washington State University Thurston County Extension.
‘It’s alarming to see the amount of farmland that was lost. Being able to help farmers stay in business all year round is really on our mind. We want them to make money,’ she says. ‘We can get people off of I-5, we can entice them. We have so much to offer in Thurston County.’
Right now, all the pieces are falling into place to finally make agritourism take off.
In October of 2013, the county created the agritourism overlay district.”
“To funnel visitors to farms and businesses like Helsing Junction, the Bountiful Byway — a 60-mile horseshoe-shaped scenic route that winds its way through Yelm, Tenino, Rainier, Bucoda, Grand Mound, Rochester and Littlerock — was established in October of 2014. There are more than 90 suggested agricultural, ecological and cultural stops,” quoting Zachariah Bryan, Business Examiner.