Most people are still unaware of developing agri-business & agri-tourism models, which have come about as a result of the Farmstay Act. The Farmstay Act has bee widely applied all over California & is designed to to encourage the development of agricultural & farming models throughout the state.
Agricultural tourism is a commercial enterprise at a working farm or ranch conducted for the enjoyment & education of visitors, & that generates supplemental income for the owner or operator. Agritourism can include farm stands or shops, U-pick, farm stays, tours, on-farm classes, fairs, festivals, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, Christmas tree farms, winery weddings, orchard dinners, youth camps, barn dances, hunting or fishing, guest ranches, and more.
The UC Small Farm Program, working with county-based UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors, provides resources for agritourism operators and hosts California's statewide directory & calendar of agritourism operations.
The Farmstay Act is a great way for land owners to turn their property into a passive income generator, while encouraging farming practices & economic growth in rural areas. The full details & criteria can be found here at the University of California Cooperative Extension, but here's what if can do for you in a nutshell:
- You must have property in a rural area (check zoning) that is at least 4 acres & produces some kind of agriculture; whether that be flowers or corn. You qualify under the Farmstay Act if you're involved in any type of farming activity that generates up to $1,000 in revenue a year. You can get creative. Grow figs and turn then into jam that you can sell to your neighbors. Many people grow flowers or seasonal items like Christmas trees & pumpkins. So long as the endeavour generates you a minimum of $1,000 per year then you are classified as a farm.
- Under the Farmstay Act & if meeting the above criteria, you're allowed to establish up to 5 accommodations to host visitors, volunteers, and workers to your farm.
- Food may be served to registered guests but the price of the meals is included in the cost of lodging.
- The farmstay must include agricultural promotion and guest education about the farming operation.
- The farmstay must register and pay Transient Occupancy Tax.
- The septic system must be adequate to accommodate the additional occupancy. Recommendation: consult a septic engineer to review the system before starting the project.
Visit the the University of California Cooperative Extension web-site to learn more.