2022 journal article

The Role of Agritourism Microentrepreneurship and Collective Action in Shaping Stewardship of Farmlands

Sustainability, 14(13), 8116.

author keywords: agricultural literacy; ecoliteracy; self-determination; food; co-management
Source: ORCID
Added: July 5, 2022

Agritourism has been promoted primarily as a way to mitigate economic challenges faced by small-scale family farmers, but it may also foster land stewardship and promote agricultural literacy. There has been very little research on these relationships. We employed a primarily qualitative approach to assess how farmers’ involvement in agritourism microentrepreneurship shapes their stewardship of small-scale farmlands in southeastern North Carolina. Furthermore, we examined how farmers’ involvement in social structures, summarized in measures of collective action, supported or hindered this relationship. We find that reasons for participation in agritourism differed greatly between conventional farmers and alternative farmers. While both groups expressed a desire to reduce agricultural illiteracy among the public through agritourism, conventional farmers were motivated primarily by sociocultural reasons (e.g., community and youth development) while alternative farmers wanted to educate visitors about land stewardship and environmentally sustainable food production. Involvement in agritourism microentrepreneurship did not directly influence land stewardship by either group of farmers. Alternative farmers expressed that collective action was important in helping them promote land stewardship, but they felt restricted by sociocultural and geographic barriers preventing them from developing trust within their community. Conversely, conventional farmers reported deeper cultural roots in the community. Thus, participation in agritourism does not have a generalizable impact on farmers’ land stewardship; instead, agritourism becomes a stage through which farmers try to demonstrate their pre-existing land ethics.