California Agritourism News February 2019
News and notes for the agritourism community from UC SAREP

Wow! Last issue of this newsletter, I shared ways to help fire survivors rebuild their lives. This afternoon I learn that the Russian River is expected to rise, flooding the towns of Guerneville, Rio Nido and Monte Rio, with the river rising higher than during the devastating January 1997 flood.

Sonoma County farmers and others affected - please be safe and let us know how we might help.

Meanwhile, in this newsletter:
  • Agritourism Intensive Class resources posted online
  • Let visitors find you on
  • County planning updates related to agritourism:
  • Contra Costa County public meeting March 21
  • Siskiyou County completes CEQA review of zoning amendment
  • Shasta County planner meets with stakeholders
  • Santa Cruz County revives stalled ordinance revision process
  • Sonoma County updates farm stay, vacation rental ordinances
  • Farm Stay guides and national association
  • Useful resources

Thanks for all you're doing.
Please stay in touch; let us know your stories and updates for the next newsletter!

Penny Leff
Agritourism Coordinator
UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
UC SAREP Agritourism Programs
Handouts and presentations from Agritourism Intensive classes available online
Farmers and ranchers have been gathering in Watsonville and Angels Camp this winter for 3-session hands-on, interactive Agritourism Intensive classes to evaluate their options, learn from experts, and begin planning their new or expanded agritourism enterprise.

Both classes are now full and registration is closed, but presentations, handouts and additional resources shared in the classes have been posted and are available on the project webpage: Agritourism Intensive 2019

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2015-49200-24225 .
-24225 .

We invite California farmers and ranchers operating agritourism businesses or events to complete the  directory application  or event listing form  online (remember to upload a picture too).

Already listed? Please check your listing and send us any changes (and a picture) using the  update form .

Or - just add  to your email blast list to share your event news - we'll grab what we can for the calendar.

County Agritourism Planning Updates
Contra Costa County invites discussion of agricultural land use policies March 21 in Knightsen
Goal: Sustaining Agricultural lands by Improving Economic Vitality
Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgess invites Contra Costa County farmers and other stakeholders to attend what may be the final in a series of meetings to review the County's land use policies related to agriculture.

Farmers, ranchers and agricultural organization representatives have participated in several meetings in different regions of Contra Costa County, proposing county agricultural policies that allow farm stays, rural restaurants, incubator farms for new farmers, clean safe farm-worker housing, and cattle grazing on public parkland, as a start.

County staff have responded with a draft policy outline that will be discussed at the next meeting. You are invited to submit comments to these suggestions or to a more complete version of recommended policies to be available in late March. Please email your comments to

The next meeting in this series will be held on Thursday, March 21, 2019 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at Knightsen Farm Bureau, 3020 Second Street, Knightsen. Everyone is welcome.

To learn more, contact Jennifer Cruz, Senior Planner, Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development at 925-674-7790 or
Siskiyou County Agritourism Zoning Amendment completes CEQA study - goes to Planning Commission

Siskiyou County is taking steps to create some rules that work for farmers, ranchers and their neighbors. The Siskiyou County Planning Commission appointed an Agritourism Technical Advisory Committee that met throughout spring 2018 to discuss potential changes to the County code regarding agritourism. The committee gave its recommendation to the Planning Commission in June and the Commission directed staff and Counsel to draft the zoning revision.

The proposed zone changes have received a Mitigated Negative Declaration in the CEQA review process, and are expected to be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting on March 20.

The Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration includes the draft text of the proposed ordinance as an attachment, beginning on page 66. This document is currently in the 30-day circulation/comment period, and should be discussed at the Planning Commission meeting on March 20. If approved by the Planning Commission, it goes to the Board of Supervisors for two public hearings (probably in April). If it is approved there, the changes go into effect 30 days later.

All meetings regarding the proposed changes will be public and will be noticed in the newspaper and on the county website .

For more information, please contact Christy Cummings Dawson,
Shasta County drafting agritourism ordinance
Shasta County's Director of Resource Management, Paul Hellman, has begun meeting with an informal group of industry, community and agency representatives to provide input for a draft an agritourism ordinance for Shasta County.

Farmers, ranchers and others in Shasta County who would like to participate in the process or learn more should contact Paul Hellman:
Santa Cruz Co. moves forward with agritourism codes
The beginning of a 2 year process
Santa Cruz County Planning Department is gathering names of farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders interested in staying informed of the agricultural code revision process as revisions move through the public hearing process, due to be restarted soon.

Agricultural Planner Sheila McDaniel shared a draft of code revisions that were considered by the Board of Supervisors in 2015. These include changes that would allow many agritourism activities, events, farm stays, wineries, breweries and distilleries. The full public draft document is here. A summary of proposed changes starts on page 136.

To learn more about the process, or to be included on the list to be notified of opportunities to participate or comment, please contact Annie Murphy at
Sonoma Co. revises Farm Stay & Vacation Rental rules
Lodging options in ag zones
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has almost completed revising zoning ordinances to make it easier for farmers and ranchers in agricultural zoning to set up Farm Stays or Vacation Rentals for visitors, requiring only Zoning Permits, rather than the more expensive Conditional Use Permits,

A quote from the staff report: "To provide more opportunity for farmstays, staff recommends removing restrictions related to primary income and allow the farmer to reside in a separate residence. These amendments would expand opportunities for a farmstay to be established on a property with a lower value agricultural use. It would also provide more flexibility to allow the farmstay to be within a separate home on the property."

Starting a Farm Stay? - Here's some help!
Farmers and Ranchers considering adding a lodging component to bring additional revenue to the production enterprise may find these resources helpful:
  • Farm Stay 101 - a guide to starting a farm stay, created by Scottie Jones, Executive Director of the U.S. Farm Stay Association
  • How to Develop a Farm Stay - One of a series of guides created by the Vermont Agritourism Collaborative
  • Membership in the U.S. Farm Stay Association - This is a national trade association of farm stay operators. The group is about to launch a new website (see preview pic here) promoting all members to the public, along with a big publicity campaign.

  • Farm-Based Education Network - A free international member network established to strengthen and support the work of educators, farmers and community leaders providing access and experiences of all kinds on productive working farms.

  • Farm Stay U.S. -The website of the U.S. Farm Stay Association, promoting farm and ranch stays in the United States and providing resources for farm stay operators and visitors.

  • Hipcamp Landshare - rural accommodations marketing site - If you are legally permitted to offer camping, cabins, or any kind of farm stay or guest ranch on your land, these San Francisco based folks may be good marketing partners.

  • Harvest Hosts - a program that connects farms and wineries with RV owners. Invite Harvest Hosts' RV owners to park overnight on your property and benefit from the goodwill that motivates them to make purchases.

  • AgritourismReady website - Created by Ohio State University Extension: A One Stop Shop for preparing your emergency management plan

  • North American Farm Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA) - a membership based trade association dedicated to providing endless peer-to-peer learning opportunities, connections and resources, for farmers who are passionate about the business of agritourism and farm direct marketing.