University of Florida

Alternative Farm Enterprises

With the arrival of fall, take a look at what is happening in your town. Are farms hosting haunted corn mazes, or welcoming families to their u-pick fields?

If you do notice an increase in fall farm activities, it may stem from an increase in different alternative farm enterprises, which can help sustain farming families and prevent rural culture from vanishing.

Types of Alternative Enterprises

There are three main types of alternative enterprises. You may prefer to specialize in one type, or you might want to expand into two or even all three areas.

  • Agritourism is attracting visitors for education about, enjoyment of, or active involvement in the activities of a farm.
  • Ecotourism focuses on ecological opportunities, such as bird watching, hiking, and nature trails.
  • Heritage tourism features access to historical sites or other cultural attractions.

Getting Started

Before you decide to pursue an alternative enterprise on your farm, be sure you can offer visitors:

  • Something interesting to see
  • Something fun to do
  • Something attractive, useful, or delicious for sale

Features of Alternative Enterprises

Typical components of alternative enterprises include the following:

  • Roadside marketing
  • Capitalizing on normal seasonal events
  • Using resources already available on the farm (specialty crops, unused land, equipment)
  • Promoting the rural way of life, culture, and history
  • Focusing on crops, products, and traditions that are special to the region or area
  • Providing interactive, educational activities not widely available elsewhere

Specific Opportunities

Many different specific opportunities for agricultural producers exist within the areas of agritourism, ecotourism, and heritage tourism. Consider the following enterprises, which are some of the most popular tried by farm owners:

  • Rides, u-pick, and/or petting zoo
  • Gift shop
  • Unique temporary feature, such as a corn maze, haunted house, or pumpkin patch
  • Access to natural areas for activities like bird watching, hiking, and biking
  • Fishing opportunities or other recreational activities, often including equipment rental
  • Available space for camping, family reunions, festivals, music concerts, and other group functions
  • Educating others about unique types of farming, such as specialty livestock, hydroponics, flowers, and herbs
  • Gardening and cooking classes as well as craft workshops
  • Promoting farm heritage; for example, cane making
  • Exhibiting old tools, implements, etc.
  • Photo opportunities

For more information and a list of resources, visit the Tourism Section of the Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises website.

Adapted and excerpted from:

N. McKenzie and A. Wysocki, “Agritainment: A Viable Option for Florida Producers” (RM008), UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economic Department (rev. 02/2012).

R. Hochmuth, L. Hasley, G. Hochuth, and L. Landrum, “Keys to Successfully Choosing Enterprises that Suit Your Small Farm” (HS1121), UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department (rev. 08/2013).

Tourism,” UF/IFAS Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises (Accessed 10/2014).



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