A blog about all things rural and agritourism related
4 ways your farm can thrive post-pandemicJuly 10, 2023
Tags: agritourism, farm design, sustainable design Categories: Agritourism, barn design, farm design
COVID may or may not be over, but there is definitely a new normal to life for the time being.
As I design building for my clients, I think about their spaces differently. Not just for social distancing and germs, but more importantly, how people are making different choices now. People are choosing to work remotely; fewer businesses will have a brick-and-mortar site, more people have moved to the country, many have taken up outdoor hobbies, and more. What trends have you seen in your area? So what does this mean to your agritourism and small-town projects?
Let’s tackle what some of these cultural shifts can mean for your on-farm diversified use or agritourism farm business.
CREATE SPACES TO SUPPORT REMOTE WORKING
With more people choosing to work from home or work from wherever they want, businesses, including mine, are expanding the boundaries of their talent pool. My staff no longer need to come to the office or even be within driving distance. So what can your on-farm business offer them?
Idea: Create the experience of working with a view
Idea: Create a destination for company gatherings and meetings
Idea: Provide fresh farm coffee and remote working space
Idea: Goats on meetings! Check out this moment from a VELD Monday staff meeting
Here is a list of ideas to help you:
- Can you offer a desk with a view of the farm field?
- Can you create an outdoor garden rental office? Think Airbnb for offices! Like a remote office so they can be “out of the house” a couple of days a week or host a small in-person meeting? It is a perfect idea for small businesses that operate virtually.
- Can you create a coffee spot?
- Can you create a workshare environment?
- And I would be remiss if I forgot the popularity of “Bring a Goat to your Zoom Meeting!” (we offer that as free-value added from VELD architect!
Obviously, there are some fundamental services you need to offer, Wi-Fi, cell coverage, quiet, a chair and a table, and power, but what an opportunity to increase traffic on the slower weekdays!
CREATE A SPACE THAT SUPPORTS OUTDOOR HOBBIES
People have been outside so much more since COVID started, and many will probably continue to enjoy the hobbies they have invested in, cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing, etc. Can you integrate any of these activities into your farm, especially winter activities, the time when you are typically less busy?
Idea: Create space for Snowkiting
Idea: Create space for outdoor ice skating
Idea: Create a space for supports local cyclists
Image credit: Velo bike cabin competition winner, Beacon by Tsz Wing Wu & Wesley Fung
Here is a list of outdoor hobbies to help you think of new opportunities for your farm:
- Private outdoor Skating rink bookings
- Skate circuits
- Winter kiteboarding (you’ve got the open space, now you just need wind?!)
- Cross-country skiing trail
- A WC and food stop along a traveled hiking or cycling trail
- Alternative exercise like goat yoga?
- Campfire stations with marshmallow roasting (summer or winter!)
And these activities are enhanced by other aspects on your farm: a picnic lunch, and family photo locations.
CREATE A SPACE THAT SUPPORTS GATHERINGS
Small office parties or small gatherings
Let’s be honest; we are all party deprived, so there will be a demand for parties, wedding receptions, family reunions, office parties, baby showers, birthday celebrations, Christmas, and anniversaries.
What did you have to miss in the last year and a half? My husband and I missed out on a 12.5 (a Dutch tradition of halfway to 25) wedding anniversary party. But I also see a trend to different styles of parties, smaller, more intimate weddings with unique settings.
Are you prepared for these? And not just in hosting events but providing accommodations for people coming from a distance. The smaller gathering is also much easier from a building code and Authorities perspective!
Huron Estates Winery, VELD architect, under construction 2022
The Huron Estates Winery features a private tasting room that also doubles as a conference room as that may be the more likely use on a regular or off-season basis.
CREATE SPACES THAT SUPPORT A FARM SCHOOL PROGRAM
Idea: This farm combines both school and remote working.
Many parents (and kids) realized through the pandemic that the school system may not be suitable for everyone. Families are looking for alternatives. Farm and forest schools are popping up everywhere! And kids love them! We all know how much the farm taught us! Work ethic, life & health, caring, and responsibility that we don’t melt in the rain (my son gets so mad when he can’t go outside on rainy days at school!). You may not be a teacher, but there is a teacher out there who would love a farm or bush to teach kids in! This one even combines school & remote working in one!
So think about your farm a little differently than you used to. Are there opportunities post-pandemic that you can take advantage of? And then do your research. Some things may not be allowed from a zoning perspective, some things may require a small renovation, and some may easily be accommodated within your existing setup and just require a marketing shift!
Give VELD architect a call with help determining if your building or site can accommodate these uses! There can be building code or zoning issues, but with a little creativity, we can figure it out with you!
Our project scouting call is free, or download the Agritourism Authorities checklist for more information.