Written by Marsha Salzwedel, M.S.,
National Children’s Center for Rural and Agriculture Health and Safety, Marshfield, Wisconsin, Member since 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

marsha salzwedelThe popular Christmas song celebrates friends, family and holiday activities. My family and I own a farm where our visitors come to find the perfect Christmas tree, to buy a wreath or kissing ball, and maybe even some maple syrup. Winter visitors to many farms enjoy sleigh rides, sipping hot chocolate by a campfire and toasting marshmallows, or even cross country skiing or snowshoeing. And we are all happy to provide the fun and the memories for them.

What we don’t want to ‘provide’ is a twisted ankle or other type of injury. When we make sure our farm is safe for our visitors, they enjoy their visit and we see them return year after year. Taking steps to make safety a part of your ‘everyday business’ will help ensure that your visitors enjoy themselves and your farm is profitable long-term.

Agritourism operators have often thought of safety as ‘something extra’. They wondered, ‘Do I really need to take time and spend money to make sure my trails are smooth or my walkways are clear of snow and ice?’ We stress that safety needs to be built into the business plan, not only to address concerns of liability, but also because we want to ‘do what’s right’ for our guests.

We enjoy our visitors who come back every year.  For many, it is a tradition to bring their family and pick out their Christmas tree together. We keep it safe, they have fun, and we become part of their tradition.

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Resources are available on the “Integrating Safety into Agritourism” website to help ensure that your farm is safe for visitors. Walkthroughs, checklists and resources applicable to many agritourism activities are available. All information, checklists and resources on the website are free to use.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014 Issue of Farmers Inspired Magazine.

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