Photo by Beth Lloyd, Patina Farm Alpacas, Canton, Mississippi
Written by Shelly Walsh, Good Karma Ranch, Iron Station, North Carolina
Summer is over. How can you keep your weekdays busy?
Homeschool groups, Scout Troops, and if you have enough room, public schools are looking for unique ways to learn. Think about who the audience is and why they should be interested. Email, phone, social media (think hashtags!), and flyers are all great ways to get the word out.
If you are open for agritourism, don’t forget to reach out to homeschool groups, scout troops, and public and charter schools. They are all looking for unique ways to learn and we have so much we can teach.
Depending on the size of your farm, parking, and bathroom situation you may want to focus just on small homeschool groups or larger public school groups. Once you determine who you want to encourage to come learn on the farm, use social media (think hashtags) or email or phone calls to get them there. Be sure to have in mind a fair fee for coming. This may be lower than your normal fee for a farm tour, but something that is reasonable for the group and still takes into consideration that you are a business.
Once you know who is coming, make sure to talk to the teacher or leader and make a plan for what you will focus on for their experience. If it’s a science focus you can consider sustainable farming practices, solar energy if you are using that on your farm, composting, rotational grazing, anatomy of the alpaca, and much more. If it is a history class consider more time talking about the history of alpacas including where they originated, how they came to be, their use for the people of Peru, when they came to the US, where they live around the world, who the largest imported is and why, the list can go on and on.
You may need an extra set of hands if you have a large school group visiting. You may even want to split the group in half and move around the farm in 2 groups. In other words, think through how it will flow once they arrive so you can make the experience positive for the visitors and for the alpacas. Be sure to communicate any rules to the teachers as well as to the students so they know what to expect and how to behave.
Make sure to share the visit on social media to encourage other schools or groups to visit. Before you include any pictures of the kids involved, ask permission to post. If you can’t get permission, take a picture from far away with the kids facing away from you, but interacting with the animals or doing an activity. Typically this will be allowed.
In short, if you want groups to visit your farm you have to tell them what you have to offer and why they should visit. Do not be shy! Alpaca farming is unique and people are intrigued by alpacas and what you will have to offer. Make your plan and go for it! Tweak as needed after each visit to keep improving and perfecting the experience. Let AOA know how it goes! We’d love to hear from you.