NJ Farmers Use Agritourism to Attract Visitors

October 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Sprawled across eight acres in Middlesex County is a corn maze that keeps luring tourists back to Etsch Farms as the crisp autumn leaves begin to fall.

“We started the corn maze business because it was important to add some extra income — they call it value added income — to farming in general in New Jersey,” said corn maze owner and operator Caroline Etsch.

It’s called agritourism and corn mazes are just a small part of it. Pumpkin picking, hay rides, farm animals and games are big business in the Garden State, providing more than $60 million a year in revenue for farmers and an additional $33 million in revenue for surrounding communities.

“Farming is business, it’s big business, it’s small business, it’s family business, it encompasses revenue streams from various opportunities that farmers have to take advantage of in order to keep their operations going,” said Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher.

The agritourism business is booming at Etsch Farms and continues to increase every year. That’s why the farmers decided to add the Bakery Barn. It’s hard to resist the apple cider slushies and donuts.

The fall attractions contribute to 25 percent of overall business on Etsch Farms.

“It certainly helped us make improvements, capitol improvements,” Etsch said.

Statewide, more than one-fifth of Garden State farms offer some form of agritourism.

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