Three inns in Grant County that have turned to agritourism to increase business and bring awareness of small agricultural producers in the area will host three special dinners this summer featuring locally harvested seasonal ingredients along with an astronomy presentation.
Guyon Springs Inn in Dayville will host a dinner June 16, Diamond Hitch Mule Ranch in Kimberly on July 7 and Land’s Inn in Kimberly on Aug. 11. Dinners and the show are $30 per person.
Amy Bilbeisi, a former National Park Service interpretive ranger, will provide an astronomy show following each dinner. The event helps to showcase Bilbeisi’s new business, Oregon Star Safaris, a mobile astronomical experience.
Agritourism, a growing economic niche, involves commercial enterprises at a working farm or ranch conducted for the enjoyment of its visitors and to generate supplemental income for the owner. Activities for visitors might include outdoor recreation, educational experiences and on-farm direct sales.
According to a 2003 survey of 400 Oregon cattle ranches by Oregon State University, 21 percent of the 177 respondents promoted agritourism and reported that agritourism contributed about 8 percent of their household income.
Seventy-nine percent of responding owners reported their agritourism business was a success. About 82 percent of guests in the study were from Oregon, and 73 percent were repeat customers. About 38 percent of guests learned about the operation from friends or family.
Some agritourism businesses offer stays at a bed and breakfast. Educational opportunities range from experiencing ranch or farm work to attending cooking classes or wine tastings. Entertainment can include harvest festivals and barn dances.
The Oregon Agritourism Partnership nonprofit established in 2014 works to connect the public with Oregon farms, ranches, wineries or other agricultural value-added operations. “Farm loops” to Canby, Farmland, Molalla and Marion feature pet farm animals, hazelnuts and chocolates, festivals and rodeos and pick-your-own produce.
Travel Oregon launched the Oregon Agritourism Network in 2015 to promote agritourism businesses. Travel Oregon also convened an Agritourism Working Group to identify six priority focus areas and develop a 2025 vision for agritourism.
The Guyon Springs Inn dinner on June 16 will feature traditional lamb asado with meat from the Cade farm in Monument, field green salad from the inn’s garden, Dutch oven spanakopita made with greens from the garden and strawberry shortcake for dessert. For tickets, call Kerri Latshaw at 541-620-4950.
The Diamond Hitch Mule Ranch dinner on July 7 will feature Painted Hills grilled sirloin, cheese from a local fromagerie, seasonal grilled vegetables and local greens and homemade pies using fruit from Kimberly Orchards. For tickets, call Jody Foss at 541-934-2140.
The Land’s Inn dinner on Aug. 11 will feature organic chicken and local vegetables served in the Land’s Inn’s 1940s-era hangar. For tickets, call Carol or Tom Buce at 541-934-2333.