The Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) of Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties have teamed up to launch www.TriangleGrown.com, a website showcasing the area’s agriculturally based features that are visitor friendly – part of the growing national trend known as agritourism.
The site helps make visiting farms and food producers easier. Many of the businesses featured have a strong commitment to using locally produced foods, which is enticing to the region’s growing ‘foodie’ population who seeks to participate and learn more about how food is grown and produced.
"Around ten years ago, with the help from NCSU Cooperative Extension and Dr. Carol Kline, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau began meeting with our local farmers on sustainable goals and how agritourism could be profitable for our farm families," stated Donna Bailey-Taylor, Executive Director, Johnston County Visitors Bureau. "Today, family farms like Lazy O Farms, Smith's Strawberry Farm, and Boyette Family Farms run successful agri-entertainment and educational programs for all ages."
Johnston County has a rich history in agriculture and continues to produce quality food products like Atkinson's Mill, House Autry Mill, Johnston County Hams, Steven's Sausage, Carolina Packer Hot Dogs and a variety of fresh produce like strawberries, peaches, blueberry, honey, pecans, and unique items like giant garlic. These food products and more may be found at many restaurants in North Carolina and beyond.
Promotion and marketing are among the top challenges farms face when starting or extending their agritourism programs, according to a report from NC State University’s Tourism Extension program. By collaborating to launch this site, the DMOs’ goal is to extend the marketing reach of individual agritourism attractions to the entire region, which encourages daytrip visits. Additional research shows that many visitors to agritourism features also participate in other activities during their visit, indicating the possibility for extending these day trips into longer stays.
The new site features top events and attractions for the five-county region, as well as suggested itineraries for a day trip to each of the five counties. It links to the primary visitor websites for each DMO for information on hundreds of additional events and activities, including:
- restaurants, bakeries and breweries that embody the farm-to-fork principle,
- markets that specialize in locally-produced goods,
- nurseries and public gardens that allow visitors to get back to nature,
- food tours and trails that highlight the farm-to-fork (or grape-to-glass, or plow-to-pint) journey,
- events that celebrate and showcase producers, and
- farms producing things like fruits and vegetables, as well as proteins, dairy and sundries that offer a more enriched experience than just shopping at a local farmers’ market.
"With the growing Triangle area and the need for our local farmers to maintain and prosper on their family farms, the Johnston County Visitors Bureau invested resources to educate, market and support our farmer's efforts to attract visitors, create shoulder season activities and package our assets into trails like the new Muscadine Heritage Wine Trail," noted Bailey-Taylor, "and we only see things growing here with new breweries opening and two thriving Farmer's Markets in Smithfield and Clayton."
The juxtaposition of urban and rural features and attractions in the Research Triangle Area of North Carolina offers a wide range of agritourism experiences. Those can now be easily accessed and explored online with current and accurate information at www.TriangleGrown.com. The tag #TriangleGrown will be used in ongoing promotions for this site and related activities in social media.