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Farmers Take to "Agritourism" To Increase Revenue and Expand Business

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YAKIMA VALLEY, WA.- The Yakima Valley is known internationally for their produce, but how do the "little" guys compete with the "big" guys, we're told it doesn't have so much to do with a great crop as it does appealing to the customers.

    

"Agritourism" it's a budding industry, especially for those small farms that just can't compete with the large scale fruit companies.

"It's getting harder and harder to make ends meet as small farms, and it's a way to keep the farm alive and expose the public to farming," Julie Michener, owner of Bill's Berry Farm in Grandview told us.

     

For Naches orchard owner, John Thompson, the is farm no longer just a place to grow fruit, " That's what started the farm, people coming here, buying their own fruit and I've capitalized on it probably the last 20 years."

    

These growers are getting creative, everything from make your own cider, to school tours, even quirky inventions.  

"This right now is what is sustaining us, we still are growing fruit commercially, but no longer on the same scale we're too small of a farm," Michener explained.

         

They may be small in comparison to the growers who ship internationally,  but these farmers say they pull in 150 to 200 customers on a daily basis, their agritourism is keeping family farming alive.

"To start this ranch up it's costs around $100,000, just to get it online, so we need that source of income, and our pumpkin patch, corn maze, that's what gives us that final push over the edge before the storm," Thompson explained.  

    

Thompson says it's no easy venture though, to really find success in the agritourism industry you need a special something, "You're dealing with different kinds of people, hundreds of people, so you have to be able to treat the first one in as kindly as the last one out."  

   

The fall season for these farmers wraps up soon, both Bill's Berry Farm and Thompson's Fruit Farm will close up shop for the fall season this coming Saturday.

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