The Economic Development and Tourism office works with local businesses to build signature events that create an economic impact on our communities and instill civic pride. One of these events is the Field to Table Farm Tour, established in 2018. To help grow this event in 2022, the Town sought support from the Province of Ontario and Central Counties Tourism to increase marketing efforts, which helped with digital, print, signage and radio campaigns. Residents and people within a 40-kilometre radius were targeted.
During the annual self-guided tour, nine farmers at eight locations welcomed 400+ residents and visitors to each of their properties to learn about agriculture, taste samples and purchase farm-fresh products. The day brought many new customers to the farms and helped bring awareness to Georgina’s thriving agriculture community. There were wagon rides, food demonstrations, musical entertainment, barbeques and vendors. The list of fun and educational activities goes on.
The event was initiated by the Town to strengthen community and agricultural partnerships and has now become one of Georgina’s signature events, attracting hundreds of residents and visitors each year. It supports the development of agriculture and agri-tourism – a key action item in the Town’s Economic and Tourism Strategy.
In 2022, the event saw more than double the number of attendees and revenue than when the tour started in 2018. Success was measured by the number of visitors at each location through collected postal codes of visitors and feedback from participating agri-businesses. Visitors were encouraged to use the event brochure as a passport, collecting stamps at each participating farm, then submitting it to the Town, where they were entered into a draw to win a gift basket of local goods from farms that participated in the event. The passport was a tool to provide a rough estimate of how many people attended, how many farms they attended and where they resided. Also, participating agri-businesses were asked to complete a post-event survey in order to collect information on visitor attendance, their experience of the event, such as new partnerships formed, revenue gained and any other mentionable successes they experienced.
Georgina is one of the few areas in York Region that has a vast and thriving agricultural community. This event leverages this unique feature through agri-tourism. Connecting residents and visitors to where they can buy local foods and products and educating them about sustainable food encourages them to shop locally and entices them to make future visits to Georgina for local goods, which, in turn, supports local farmers and businesses.
The farms and their partners, many of which were invited vendors, are promoted beyond the single-day event through the “Grown in Georgina” web page and campaign. This ongoing promotion helps to achieve our goal of increasing tourism visits that have an economic impact on the community, boosting sustainable agriculture awareness and establishing local tourism partnerships that will build relationships and further collaborations.
Field to Table webpage: https://www.georgina.ca/field-table
Grown in Georgina webpage: https://www.georgina.ca/agri-tourism