Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The word for the day is "agritourism". This was a word that was coined some years ago (I haven't done the research), but I believe that it is ment to encompass many things. Mainly it is a draw created to get the more-urban into a more-rural environment temporarily... as a tourist. Maybe for an extended vacation, or maybe just for a few hours.

The current Wikipedia definition says: Agritourism is a style of vacation which is normally on farms. This may include the chance to help with farming tasks during the visit. Agritourism is often practiced in wine growing regions in Italy and Spain. In America, Agritourism is wide-spread and includes any farm open to the public at least part of the year. Tourists can pick fruits and vegetables, ride horses, taste honey, learn about wine, shop in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts, and much more.

The "dude ranch" is included here, but so is the barn quilt. I know that some of the Barn Quilt Projects in Western North Carolina were started with funding from the Blue Ridge Natural Heritage Area. They are self described as: a place designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic, and recreational resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally distinctive landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography. These patterns make National Heritage Areas representative of the national experience through the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved in the areas. Continued use of the National Heritage Areas by people whose traditions helped to shape the landscapes enhances their significance. (your federal tax dollars at work)

This money was channeled thru the Handmade in America organization. Since 1993, these folks have encouraged and supported the local arts and artisans of the region. When you focus on economic development there are also (can be), many supporters from local and state government. The Barn Quilt arts movement has the underlying spirit of supporting our rural neighbors, but I still like to think of this as stand alone, art for art’s sake. Can this be art for the sake of the community? Look at the pride that is generated by ownership (even by a neighbor, or tourist), of a place, and space in time, that we can call our own.

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