Six people pose for photo, standing.
L-R: Heather Ersts, Dana Zucker, Lisa Chase, Claudia Schmidt, Carla Barbieri, and Prem Bhandari. Credit: Lila Karki/UMES.

Inaugural Maryland Agritourism Conference reflects increasing interest in agritourism

The first Maryland Agritourism Conference drew strong attendance from across the state and beyond, and included producers, non-profits, Extension professionals, students, and government officials including Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture Kevin Atticks, who delivered a keynote. The event was organized by University of Maryland Eastern Shore Extension, and was held in Cambridge, Maryland, from December 10-12.

Claudia Schmidt, NERCRD faculty affiliate and assistant professor of marketing and local/regional food systems in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Science, delivered a presentation during the plenary session, emphasizing the crucial need for a robust support system for agritourism operators in the United States.

“The turnout was inspiring,” said Schmidt. “The presence of numerous destination marketing organizations highlights the growing interest and commitment to promoting agritourism as an essential part of the tourism industry.”

NERCRD Director Stephan Goetz also attended the conference, and echoed Schmidt’s sentiments about the importance of a supportive ecosystem for agritourism while emphasizing the value of cross-state collaboration.

“Agritourism visitors for the most part do not care about county or state borders. It is crucial that we foster collaborations across states to achieve scale in the Northeast,” said Goetz. “By sharing resources, knowledge, and best practices, we can collectively enhance the agritourism experience for all. At NERCRD, we are committed to supporting faculty and educators around the region in their efforts to strengthen this vibrant sector.”

Learn more about the conference here.

Attendance breakdown by sector: 

  • Farmers/ Ranchers/Producers 40%
  • Government/Non-profit: 21%
  • Educator/Researcher/Extension: 21%
  • Students: 10%
  • Others: 8%