Unfortunately, not one producer jumped in the front row seats that people with the utmost enthusiasm eventually filled, but something wasn’t right about having a conversation about agritourism without a room full of farmers.
It wasn’t like the crowd gathered in the barley fields two days later, a mix leaving with crooked necks from seeking radishes and turnips. The producers, consumers, students and teachers were silently pleased with the still weather, hoping it would not last long beyond the afternoon. They walked through the fields working hard to survive for much more than the life of a potato. They learned about four attempts to make agriculture healthy again. They saw, they heard, they looked and they listened out on the land that holds all of the prospects.
The discussion about devoting time to attract retired and wealthy tourists to taste the Valley lingered about on Wednesday afternoon while trampling through the stubble. Recollections of those vacant seats and the idea of a couple from Connecticut celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary on a hayride round the circles compared to the tours round the state’s wineries, market gardens and specialty projects made for a smile. An appreciation for the Valley’s producers set in alongside a moment to wonder of how it could all work, these ideas of linking the tourist to agriculture, but done with Valley style.
Getting around, last week’s soil health tour was definitely one of the better-attended free, voluntary events this year. There were more people gathered on Alamosa County roads looking at the autumn ground, exploring fields that have since said goodbye to the milk and honey then rally for their candidates or their children. In three hours, people met people with a similar interest that links all and sustains all, the system of local food, a focus of the agritourism conversation.
If tourists want to come to the Valley, they might want the opportunity to see agriculture. If the tourists want to go out on the farm, it might not be for wine, cheese and a cook, but for a raw fare and a rare vantage point. In the case of the soil health tour, a busload’s worth of people came from around the Valley to see the farmer’s hard work, the scientist’s intricate planning and Mother Nature’s reaction to an offer to heal what continues fighting to bring food into this world in a manner that allows man to prevail. If the tourist wants to see it before the beer is brewed, the cow is fed and the potato is grown with tender care, the Valley is their agritourism destination.
Something, however, isn’t right about having this conversation without a room full of farmers and everyone else working to expand the system, especially when the cold has come round for the first time in months.