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New study shows value of agritourism in the Willamette Valley

The front of a farm store. Potted plants and shopping carts are visible in the front. The building says "Bauman Farms."
Noah Camuso
Bauman farms was started in 1895 in Gervais, Oregon.

The air at Bauman farms in Gervais is filled with the smell of fresh apple cider doughnuts. In addition to their farmland, the family business has a bakery, restaurant, farm store, and— during their fall harvest event— a corn maze and a bouncy house.

A close-up photo of Brian Bauman. Behind him are various plants and crafts for sale.
Noah Camuso
Brian Bauman is the fifth generation to work on the farm.

Agritourism like this is one way farms can stay financially viable in a difficult industry. But with the benefits come concerns about privacy, traffic on rural roads, and using agricultural land for non farm-related activities.

A new OSU study, “An Initial Economic Impact Estimate of Agritourism in Oregon's Willamette Valley,” was created to inform the ongoing conversation about the future of agritourism in Oregon. The study found that approximately 4,000 of the 18,679 farms in the Willamette Valley were engaged in agritourism, attracting between 3.7 million and 13.7 million people to farms in the region each year.

Around 100,000 people visit Bauman farms in the fall, which has significant impacts on the local economy. Brian Bauman, general manager of Bauman farms, said local businesses call ahead of time to prepare for the influx of people.

“They know when pumpkin patch starts at Bauman farms because more people are coming through the community, and that helps every business all the way down the road,” Bauman said.

Farms that participated in the study’s survey overwhelmingly indicated agritourism was important to their financial viability.

Noah Camuso is a freelance reporter for KLCC.