Agritourism Monitor Farms are rural businesses opened up to wider community groups, other rural businesses and related professionals for site tours, working groups and open discussions.
The original concept of Monitor Farms is that they are farmer-led initiatives to improve the performance and profitability of a farm, typical of the local area, over three year period. To date the model has been used at over 40 Monitor Farms across Scotland. The agritourism Monitor Farms are run on the same principals but are running over a shorter time span of 18 months, due to the funding cycle of the 2007-2013 RDP. In this project, two Monitor Farms were supported by a facilitator and Management Group. Activities carried out included the delivery of 18 meetings, the creation and facilitation of a Management Group for each farm and business development and facilitation to the wider monitor farm community groups.
More than 90% of participants stated that their involvement in the project helped improve productivity.
Among local farmers who regularly attend Monitor Farm meetings, 95% said Monitor Farms were an effective forum for exchanging knowledge and almost 60% reported that Monitor Farm projects led to improvements in the financial performance of their own farm businesses.
One of the agritourism Monitor Farms reports an increase of 50% year on year in turnover, which can at least in part be attributed to their involvement in the project.
Those who work in the business have gained in confidence and in understanding that they have ‘real’ businesses which need to be treated as such.