The Shopping Cart | Exemplary agritourism

A survey by our lab shows that nearly 58% of Canadians intend to do agritourism this year. For Quebec, that percentage rises to 72%, or nearly three in four Quebecers, although tourists now have more travel options than they did last year.

Posted at 6:30am

Agritourism has made a strong comeback in recent years. Of course, city dwellers visited the country during the pandemic, out of concern for food security or because they had nothing else to do. As the season progressed, they took turns visiting strawberry, raspberry, carrot, meat, and staple crops. Nowadays, tourists visit the country to discover and benefit from the agricultural know-how of our regions.

It is estimated that there are nearly 2,000 agritourism businesses in Quebec and the number of visits reaches nearly 30 million each year. Four times more than the number of golf course visits in Quebec. According to the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, the number of agritourism businesses in the province practically doubled between 2005 and 2020. At that time, around 3% of the income of the agricultural sector was recorded, and this before the impact of the pandemic.

Traffic levels won’t match 2020 or 2021, but revenue from rural sites and gourmet tours could far exceed expectations this year due to a more engaged clientele and many tourists from other countries.

Agritourism includes day-trippers who take a day trip by car to visit countryside attractions and holidaymakers who stay in a rural setting for a few days. Farm bed and breakfasts, spas, restaurants, country tables with farm fresh ingredients, kiosks with basic or processed produce, U-Pick, wine tours, you name it.

Agritourism is of course a great showcase for our agriculture. While many consumers are interested in agritourism, farmers see this activity as an opportunity to build good relationships with the public. There is a growing desire to go back to the sources of our food and to better understand the slightly darker side of our diet.

The recipe of the Île d’Orléans

Several regions of Quebec offer visitors beautiful discoveries during a journey through the countryside. But if there is one place that has mastered the art of agritourism, it is Île d’Orléans in the Capitale-Nationale region. Once on the island, you won’t be able to resist its charm.


PHOTO MATHIEU BÉLANGER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Strawberry picking at the Jean-Pierre Plante farm on the Île d’Orléans

Each stop offers something different, a unique appreciation of the islanders’ craftsmanship. No two tours are the same. Each of the sites has its own style, contribution and loving passion that make the region endearing.

However, what impresses more is the sharing and convergence of traders to better capitalize on a passing market on the island. Be it the Boulangerie Drouin, the Fromages de l’Isle d’Orléans in Sainte-Famille, the Saveurs de l’Isle d’Orléans in Saint-François, the chic bakery and refreshment bar La Midinette in Saint-Jean in the first presbytery, the vineyard and distillery of Sainte-Pétronille or the chocolate factory on the Île d’Orléans, there is a real symbiosis between all these artisans.

No matter where we stop, vendors praise the merits of their products and neighboring businesses because each owner also sells others’ products, knowing that not all visitors will stop everywhere. Big.

From one visit to the next, we are enchanted by the cooperation between the individual locations. Other regions also benefit from similar practices, but the model on Île d’Orléans is exemplary. Strolling in the countryside that a certain Félix Leclerc already called “the island of his home”, it’s easy to sway one in the air bit of joy at the tasting of an artisanal cheese accompanied by a good local wine.

We have everything to gain if agritourism gains popularity here and elsewhere. Before the pandemic, agritourism was considered a sideline for the region and a pleasant pastime for consumers. Since the pandemic, city dwellers have renewed their love for the regions. Many of them move to the countryside permanently, across the country, but other than that, impromptu visits are fine.

Of course, according to the Federation of Agritourism and Gourmet Tourism, the biggest challenge for these establishments remains the workforce. Several people who work there are not even 15 years old. You may be young but this is a great way to spend the summer while learning about the humanistic aspect of agri-food.

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