University of Florida

Alternative Farm Enterprises


Entrepreneurial farmers can supplement their income through alternative farm enterprises that 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, consider having the following items for visitors to your farm:

  • 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 unique 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. The following are some of the most popular enterprises tried by farm owners, in conjunction with normal production:

  • Rides, u-pick, and/or petting zoo
  • Gift shop
  • Unique temporary feature, such as a corn maze or pumpkin patch
  • Access to natural areas for activities like bird watching, hiking, and biking
  • Opportunities in fishing or other recreational activities, often including equipment rental
  • Access to space for camping, family reunions, festivals, music concerts, and other group functions
  • Education about unique types of farming, such as specialty livestock, hydroponics, flowers, and herbs
  • Classes on gardening, cooking, and/or crafts
  • Promotion of the heritage of the farm--for example, exotic animal hunting, cane making, or another historical farming tradition unique to the region
  • Exhibition of old tools, implements, etc.
  • Photo opportunities

For more information, visit the Tourism section of the Small Farms & Alternative Enterprises website.

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