Corporate Sustainability Not Just For Big Business

Wed, 2012-06-06 14:35

There’s lots of talk in the media about corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability. Companies are going green and focusing on a triple bottom line – people, planet, profit. Corporate goals are being aligned with environmental and social responsibility. Consumers and investors are paying attention, as companies like Wal-Mart, HP, and Patagonia are developing innovative ways to clean up their supply chain, improve efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint, give back to the community, and save money. But, what about small businesses with limited resources? Are the impacts of sustainability as profound for the little guys? It seems that sustainability does not discriminate when it comes to inspiring new thinking, innovation, and action.

More and more farmers all over our nation are cultivating something new on their farmland – tourism and hospitality. As people become increasingly interested in where their food is produced, farmers are becoming more aware of the opportunities to engage customers and benefit from their interest. Organic and sustainable farming are on the rise and farmers are supplementing traditional farm work with tourism.

Agritourism is defined as “the practice of touring agricultural areas to see farms and often to participate in farm activities.” In a way, it brings the broad concept of ecotourism to a more local level and translates to a win for both the environment and the local community. Agritourism is not a new practice, nor is it specific to the sustainability movement. But the mutually beneficial practices of sustainable agriculture and agritourism are being revitalized by an increased interest and awareness of how and where our food is produced.

Thanks to farmers and landowners with some creative entrepreneurship and ingenuity, there is a lot more to agritourism than just bringing visitors to the farm. It’s an experience. A wide variety of visitors are being educated and entertained through the experiences farmers are cultivating on their land. “Foodies” may be excited to taste wine that is paired with locally grown food, prepared by famous chefs from local restaurants, and served on the breathtaking grounds of a winery. Those seeking more active involvement may participate in a curd-making demonstration at a creamery. Families can bring the kids to a local pumpkin patch for a fall festival that includes a hayride or a corn maze. Some visitors simply want to pick their own berries or sip fresh cider in the serene setting of an orchard. Counties are recognizing the benefits to the local economy and are legislating to lower barriers to agritourism that existed previously.

Top 5 Reasons to Love Agritourism as a Sustainable Strategy

1. Education – visitors are becoming engaged in learning about the environmental impacts of our food supply

2. Resource conservation – farmers are motivated to adopt more sustainable practices, and consumers are buying local

3. Local and rural economies can develop in a way that is environmentally friendly – less farmland lost to urban development, and green jobs are growing

4. Adds value to keep farmers farming

5. Builds strong community relations

Do you want to learn how to develop and implement a sustainability strategy that can impact your company and the environment? Visit Everblue's ISSP Sustainability Associate training to enroll in a class today.

By Amy Malloy

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