Fall agritourism operations: Safety and accessibility are key this season

By Dee Jepsen, Lisa Pfeifer, and Laura Akgerman

The fall agritourism season is in full swing — even during a pandemic. And while businesses of all kinds have met unprecedented challenges, there are recommended practices that will go a long way for agritourism operations to keep their doors open while remaining safe and accessible in this environment.

At first glance, agritourism may seem similar to fairs and festivals, but agritourism is quite different. Agritourism farms operate over a series of weeks, sometimes months. Many are open and operate pick-your-own activities or farm market/produce stands throughout the year. They are well staffed and have adopted effective tools to manage all types of customer situations, even engaging in emergency planning. Their livelihood depends on their ability to manage crowds and keep customers safe, be it a weather event or a national health crisis.

Staying safe during COVID-19

The state of Ohio requires all businesses, including farms open to the public, to follow safety protocols for preventing and managing COVID-19. These practices include:

  • Face-coverings be worn by all guests and employees.
  • Asking customers and employees to not enter the facility if symptomatic.
  • Frequent handwashing and use of hand sanitizers, encouraged by signage and access to multiple station locations.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing workplaces regularly throughout the day and at the close of business.
  • Social distancing protocols be in place and encouraged by signage and marking.
  • Establishing a maximum capacity for the operation.
  • Staggering ticket sales and entry times, offering separate hours for at-risk populations.

When it comes to agritourism venues, additional guidelines may include:

  • Restrictions or special arrangements for large groups, such as school or club field trips.
  • Establishing separate designated entrance and exit areas.
  • Passenger loading and unloading protocols, utilizing assistance from within a group of guests visiting together.
  • Limiting food vendors, or ways food is served. Removing all self-service or sampling options.
  • Establishing protocols about access to picnic/shelter areas.
  • Limitations on capacity for hayrides and field shuttle services, with distancing protocols put in place.
  • Limiting activities — making space considerations for corn mazes, play areas and other attractions. Some attractions may be closed, especially if they cannot be done outdoors or be sanitized between guests.

Accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses, including farms open to the public, to follow ADA guidelines for accessibility. For agritourism venues these might include:

  • Access to the site using ramps, no-threshold entrances and large-opening doorways.
  • Walkways and aisles with no obstructions, debris or other tripping hazards. These areas should also consider the type of walking surfaces that freely enable strollers, wheelchairs and motorized scooters to access the venue.
  • Pathways should be 36-inches wide through orchards, corn mazes, and other public areas. A turn-around diameter of at least 60-inches is necessary to turn a wheelchair around at the end of an aisle.
  • Accessible bathrooms (site built or rented bathrooms) with no steps or thresholds, bathroom stalls with handrails and sufficient room for a wheelchair.
  • Event materials (programs, activity descriptions, advertising) in accessible format — electronic versions that can be read with a screen reader.
  • Seating areas and tables that would allow a wheelchair to move between tables, also allowing the person in the wheelchair to pull up to a table.

Summary

Planning for safe and accessible operations is not only important for public safety; it is important for the future of a farm business. Additionally, customers may see well-planned safety measures as a reason to visit a farm during these challenging times and as a fun way to spend quality time with family.

OSU Extension has developed a bulletin to assist business owners in developing their plans. The guide is based on publications from the state of Ohio, the CDC and others. This guide can be used to develop opening plans or update existing plans for agritourism operations.

The guidance bulletin is posted on the Ohio Ag Manager website. To watch for updates on the guide, we encourage farms to subscribe to the Ohio Ag Manager Blog at http://ohioagmanager.osu.edu/.

Additional resources for making your farm and agritourism operation accessible can be found at https://agrability.osu.edu/resources/webinars-and-handouts-2020.

The authors work in the Agricultural Safety and Health Program and the Ohio AgrAbility program at OSU. Dee Jepsen, Associate Professor, can be reached at jepsen.4@osu.edu; Lisa Pfeifer, Program Manager, can be reached at pfeifer.6@osu.edu and Laura Akgerman, Disabilities Service Coordinator, can be reached at akgerman.4@osu.edu. Contributions were made by Eric Barrett and Rob Leeds with OSU Extension. This column is provided by the OSU Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Check Also

Planting progress and field scouting

Dave Russell talks with Pioneer Field Agronomist in far Northern Ohio, John Schoenhals. Schoenhals talks …

4 comments

  1. Real estate is a dynamic and multifaceted industry that encompasses a wide range of property types, including residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural. It plays a pivotal role in the global economy, serving as a significant driver of economic growth and stability.buy real estate in ND and MN

  2. One of the key drivers of the real estate market is location. The old adage “location, location, location” holds true as properties situated in desirable areas often command higher prices and generate more significant returns on investment. Proximity to schools, shopping centers, public transportation, and other amenities can significantly impact a property’s value. In contrast, properties in less accessible or less attractive locations may struggle to attract buyers or tenants.real estate team

  3. The industry of real estate thrives on the expertise of diverse professionals, from real estate agents and brokers to architects, developers, and urban planners. It’s a collaborative ecosystem where creativity, innovation, and market knowledge converge to shape skylines and create living spaces that cater to evolving needs. The process of envisioning, designing, and bringing real estate projects to fruition embodies a fusion of artistry and practicality.Jual beli tanah cepat indonesia

  4. real estate is not merely a conglomeration of properties and transactions; it is a reflection of human stories etched within the walls and corridors of buildings. It encapsulates memories, aspirations, successes, and struggles—a tangible testament to the passage of time and the evolution of societies. It witnesses the ebb and flow of urbanization, the transformation of landscapes, and the interplay between development and preservation.vermietete immobilie verkaufen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *