Local Circle Farm Tour participants showed up to council chambers in full force on Tuesday night, looking for continued, and increased, financial support.
Their plea included presentations from Kilby’s Jo-Anne Leon, Natural Farmhouse Cheese owner Debra Amrein-Boyes, and Dan Stefenson, executive director of Tourism Abbotsford.
Stefenson outlined the importance of the marketing efforts that promote the Circle Farm Tour for each of the five communities involved. In addition to Agassiz-Harrison Mills, they are Abbotsford, Langley, Chilliwack and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. Each community’s group of businesses or farms participating in the program is required to pay $4,000 for the wider, regional marketing that promotes the Circle Farm Tour.
The District has awarded the program $1,000 each of the past two years. That leaves $3,000 to come out of the pockets of the businesses involved.
Stefenson told council that a 2008 survey found that 92 per cent of Circle Farm Tour visitors spent money while visiting a farm business. On average, those 2,405 visitors spent about $27, equalling a total of $650,000 that year.
That doesn’t even include the amount spent on items such as gas, hotels, coffees or at other non-Circle Farm Tour businesses.
“I think the important thing is it benefits the whole community,” Leon said.
The local group of Circle Farm Tour businesses currently are behind with their $4,000 obligation to the larger regional group.
“But they’re being patient for the money,” Leon added. Each business already pays to be a part of the program, paying for ad space in this community’s brochures.
Council assured the Circle Farm Tour delegation that they would forward their request onto their financial officer, who was absent from the meeting due to annual holidays.
In Agassiz, the Circle Farm Tour businesses are Valedoorn Farms, Tulips of the Valley, the Agassiz-Harrison Museum and Visitor Info Centre, Canadian Hazelnut, The Back Porch, Farm House Natural Cheeses, Limbert Mountain Farm, Kilby Historic Site and Tulips of the Valley.