Renee Hamilton and Logan Eades

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By Ohio law, agritourism is defined as an agriculturally educational, cultural, historical, entertainment, or recreational activity, but we also know it is also about sharing the story of agriculture and bridging the gap between consumers and producers. 

Agritourism offers many different opportunities for farm owners but it also presents legal concerns that are governed by the 2016 agritourism law enacted by the Ohio Legislature.

Meet Logan Eades and Renee Hamilton

Logan Eades and Renee Hamilton reside in Champaign County where they own and operate Violet View Farms, a mum and pumpkin patch they purchased to complement their freezer beef business. While participating in AgriPOWER Class XIII, Renee found a deeper passion for agritourism opportunities to implement, while learning how to mitigate risks in their new business venture. 

What made you decide to get into agritourism? 

A couple years ago, we had the opportunity to purchase the equipment, and more importantly, gain the knowledge from a gentleman who had run a pumpkin patch for over 15 years. We saw it as a great way to diversify the operation since cattle prices are continuously changing. Right now, the fall season is the largest focus of the agritourism sector of our business, however, we would like to expand to a year-round store front. 

What is your biggest concern with having an agritourism business?

Violet View Farms mumsThere is always the concern that we could display agriculture in a bad light. Today’s consumer has a lot of questions about how and where their products are produced. Oftentimes, we are the first farmers our customers have met. At the time of these conversations, the consumer may be purchasing pumpkins or mums, but they will see a sign for our beef and want to know how and where it is raised. The fall business has created an open door to let consumers know that their food is safe. 

Another concern that we are always cautious of is the liability of having the public visiting the pumpkin patch. We have taken extensive measures to protect the public, ourselves and our business. 

What is your biggest accomplishment with your business?

This year we supplied about 400 mums to Farm Science Review that were displayed from one end of the show to the other. As we walked through the grounds, it gave us a sense of pride that we were able to have a small piece of several of the displays. We like to joke that we are the official mum of the Farm Science Review. 

While in AgriPOWER, Renee did a policy project based around agritourism. What is something you learned from doing that project that you have or will implement into your own business? 

I learned more about the risk associated with a fall agritourism business and how to mitigate those risks such as developing a plan for all aspects of the business so that we are prepared. Beyond learning about risk, I learned how to communicate with the public about agriculture. It helped me realize that I have a unique opportunity to interact with the public every weekend our store is open. 

From the expert
Ryan Conklin, Wright & Moore
Ryan Conklin

Ryan Conklin is lead attorney, Farm Succession and Legacy Preservation with Wright & Moore Law

What are the best practices for mitigating risks when owning or operating an agritourism business on your property?

Liability management is a paramount concern for new and current agritourism operators. Failure to properly structure the business or utilize protective measures could result in business failure or the loss of personal assets.

  1. To start, working with your insurance agent to modify your liability policy is a great first step. Explain your business goals and liability protection needs to your agent so the policy can better protect your business and personal assets.
  2. Next, agritourism operators in particular should assemble business entities, like a limited liability company, and avoid mixing operating assets (livestock, equipment, produce) with farmland. Creating written leases to further separate operating assets from land is another key step.
  3. Finally, take advantage of the liability protections in Ohio’s agritourism law. The law provides an affirmative defense for lawsuits resulting from “risks inherent” to being on a farm. The only requirement: posting the proper signage around the property. Your Farm Bureau organization director is a great resource for potentially acquiring these signs.

What advice would you give someone who is new to the agritourism world or someone who is thinking of starting an agritourism business? 

 For families looking to begin an agritourism business, the best advice I can offer is more business-related. Take the time to assemble a comprehensive business plan, including financials, marketing, regulatory compliance, vision, goals, growth, insurance, liability management, business structure, and other areas. Like family farms or other agribusinesses, agritourism businesses can be lucrative and enjoyable. A business owner who carefully analyzes all aspects of the agritourism enterprise gives it a better chance for survival. Consult with your professional team, including your attorney, accountant, lender, insurance agent, financial professional, and a business consultant to round out all aspects of your business plan.

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Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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