Planning to start a farm resort? Here are some tips to get you started

More and more farms are engaging in farm tourism to diversify their products and offerings and increase their profits. It is a supplementary activity that draws visitors in through various activities such as harvesting fruits and vegetables, feeding and caring for farm animals, fishing, camping, hiking, swimming, and sampling the local cuisine.

While expanding into farm tourism can be rewarding, it comes with its own set of challenges. Engr. Woodrow Escobal of JB Nature Farm & Resort in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte knows this firsthand. “Managing two major projects – Farm & Resort merged into one under the farm tourism program is not easy,” he says.

[READ: Agriculture Magazine reader transformed a no man’s land into a nature wonderland]

Going beyond one’s “comfort zone” and diversifying a farm’s services entails a lot of careful planning and consideration. Escobal shared some tips for farms who are thinking of going into farm tourism.

PLAN WITH AN OPEN MIND. It is very important to carefully plan how one’s land will be utilized. 

Being open to each and every available opportunity and possibility, while considering calculated risks, is important, according to Escobal.

He also advises hiring experts on farming and land use when crafting one’s Site Development Plan, which will be the main guide for the entire project. 

ABIDE BY ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS. Before performing any site improvements, it is best to process permits with the local government unit and Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) to avoid penalties. 

Skipping processes or overlooking environmental-degrading practices for the sake of more profit will do more harm than good, especially in the long run. “One can never go wrong in caring for the environment,” Escobal shared. “We reap sustainability, revitalized biodiversity, established carbon sink, clean water, and air, among others,” he added.

START SMALL AND SIMPLE. While there are really no limits to someone’s plans and imagination, it is important to start with something small to establish good practices and safely test business and agriculture theories in the real world, Escobal said. 

He further shared the importance of the phase-by-phase addition of amenities to “test the waters” and determine the actual pros and cons of each development. He cited an example on crop management: “Be aware that your next cropping [after the first harvest] may not give the same yield so be ready with your natural fertilizers or soil amendments that you will apply to replenish the nutrients utilized by the plants during the previous cropping season. Do some research or avail of the training being offered by the agriculture office.”

INVEST IN CREATING A ROBUST FINANCIAL SYSTEM. Expanding the farm’s services and amenities entails dealing with additional cash flows and systems. Being good at farming is not enough to efficiently manage a business venture. Farm resort owners should be especially adept at the processes and requirements of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and other financial institutions, according to Escobal.

“Seek help from BIR personnel to guide you in registering your agribusiness project and for the printing of an official receipt. You should also seek advice on how to comply with the required financial records and annual obligations. Familiarize yourself with the various forms and payment schedules concerning your Certificate of Registration,” he shared.

GO ONLINE. More and more people are now turning to the online world for a variety of products and services. Going online, such as creating social media pages or sites, to connect with other like-minded people and potential customers is a must for those who are planning to expand and engage in farm tourism. 

“Market your farm services and products using the internet. Take advantage of digital technology for you to reach a wider and bigger target audience,” Escobal shared. 

FOSTER AN INNOVATIVE MINDSET. Tourism and business trends constantly change, and an innovative mind is necessary to efficiently adapt to the changing world. Along the way, the farm resort should be able to have mechanisms to ensure a smooth change in services, products, and amenities depending on the latest trends and sustainability practices. 

“Don’t stop being creative and innovative in improving or offering new farm or resort attractions. Think of anything that makes you stand out,” Escobal shared. 

Photo courtesy of Engr. Woodrow “Jun” C. Escobal Jr.

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