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Promoting Agritourism

Oldham County Tourism
has launched farm tours for visitors

Group tours could become a
lucrative activity for county

LA GRANGE, Ky. (May 2013) – Oldham County has added another feather to its cap by recently becoming known as the Farm Tour Capital of the World. Efforts have been ongoing for some time to put together horse farm tours, and now various farm tours, to showcase the county’s diverse Agritourism and educational aspects that are seldom recognized.

Kim Buckler

“I wanted to be involved in the Agritourism project because I believe that agriculture plays a huge part in our future.”

- Kim Buckler, Oldham Co. Tourism Director

Kim Buckler, executive director of Oldham County Tourism Commis-sion, has been working for the past six years for a better way to promote horse farms in Oldham County. Earlier this year, she began focusing on promoting farm tours, a concept that has turned a lot of heads so far.
“I knew we needed to develop Agritourism from scratch,” said Buckler. The first Agritourism meeting in the county was held in August 2012. Since then, she has had positive response from 14 farms that have jumped on board.
Buckler visited each individual farm and took photographs. She said many of them didn’t even know other people were interested in visiting their farms. She then had to assist the owners in deciding what each farm wanted to offer to visitors.
“I wanted to be involved in the Agritourism project because I believe that agriculture plays a huge part in our future,” said Denise Coonley, owner of Bluebonnets and Bluegrass Alpaca Farm and R.A.D. Fibers. “We’ve lost some of the old ways of doing things. How many kids have actually gathered freshly laid eggs or been able to touch or look at animals in a pasture?”
Coonley said that a tour of her farm “will encompass the whole alpaca business.” She plans to begin tours in the pasture learning about and looking at alpacas, and then she will take participants to her studio and show examples of what she creates from her own fiber.
Coonley’s finished products include fabric, coats, shawls, baby blankets and artsy-fartsy clothing. She also offers private and group classes in her fiber studio, located in her basement.
“I think the Farm Tour program will benefit my business by allowing me to share my love of alpacas and all things fiber,” Coonley said.
Even though her business is comprised of running an alpaca farm, her focus is on the fiber end of the business.
A major component to these farm tours is that Buckler is also working with the Oldham County Board of Education to provide tours for students that will tie into their classroom science curriculums. She is hoping to get a good response for summer and fall tours and after school programs.
Buckler has also been in contact with the National Future Farmers of America organization to include members in the tours. Last fall, she attended a National FFA Convention in Indianapolis to “bring back information and incorporate it in the tours,” she said.
Participants in the 2013 convenient will visit Louisville at the end of October and the first of November, and the local hotels are booked “full with students and advisors,” said Buckler.
She wants to make their experience in Oldham County educational and fun, while incorporating the farm tours into their curriculum. “I want people to walk away from these tours knowing more than when they started,” Buckler said.
Coonley said there are many aspects of her farm that would be beneficial to students. Coonley said she makes her own compost from animal waste, raises chickens to help keep down the parasites and flies in the field, rotates fields every 45 days so she can grow grass and give the fields a rest at least once or twice a year.
“We have a very green operation and it sets a good tone for the future.”
All 14 farms are “different in their own way,” Buckler said. She has already taken every tour and “I know what you can learn.”
She will have to wait until the fall 2013 to find out if she can incorporate the farm tours in the local school’s curriculum to provide year-round tours for students. “The state of Kentucky will have a new science curriculum in the fall that will be more hands-on,” Buckler said. She also hopes to go statewide with her farm tour ideas.
“I love that Oldham County is leading the way in bringing attention back to our farms,” said Coonley.
Groups of 10 or more need to schedule an appointment through the tourism office by calling (502) 222-0056 or (502) 817-6043. Groups smaller than this can contact the farms to make a tour appointment.

• For more information and to view a complete listing of participating farms, visit: www.OldhamFarmTours.com.

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