Author: Melissa Fery
Publish Date: Spring 2010
If you are looking for ways to expand your rural business and bring new costumers to the countryside, the Oregon Country Trails system is an agri-tourism option you may want to explore. Oregon Country Trails (OCT) are self-guided driving adventures that offer visitors a chance to get out of their car, find something to do, something to see and something to buy.
"Where the suits meet the boots!"
Danuta Pfeiffer and her husband, Robin own and operate Pfeiffer Winery in Lane County. Together with a few of her neighbors, Danuta identified a way to encourage rural revitalization by creating a trail or a loop that would bring more foot traffic to their businesses, expanding economic viability. As a result, in 2006, a 40 mile trail, including wineries, alpaca farms, golf course, art gallery, a wild mustang ranch, fruit farms and orchards blazed The Long Tom Country Trail. Since then, the Alsea Valley Country Trail, Fern Ridge Country Trail, River Road Country Trail, and the Alpine Country Trail have formed. The trail system is expanding again, as farms and other rural entrepreneurs in Linn County are planning to form at least four new trails, with a fifth new trail, The McKenzie Valley Country Trail in Lane County, all this Spring. While the trails are gaining popularity at a local level, many of the patrons following a trail, stopping and shopping, are from out of state and those visiting from foreign countries. These tourists are looking for unique opportunities to experience Oregon.
For neighbors interested in starting a trail in their area, it’s a fairly simple process. The first step is to identify at least 10 other interested businesses, including agriculture producers, entertainment farms, or other country retailers, like those that can provide lodging, educational and recreational opportunities, and food. The length of the trail should be such that visitors can complete it in a day with leisurely stops along the way. The second task is choosing a location for a planning meeting and contacting then OCT, who will attend the meeting, present the trails concept, and answer questions.
For an annual membership fee of $100 per business, Oregon Country Trails will assist in designing the route, provide brochures and maps and market the trail. Members also have access to the OCT website and the option of a personal shopping cart on the website to sell products.
Oregon Country Trails is the only branded, agri-tourism system in Oregon and has been awarded the Pacific Rim Organization of the Year for agri-tourism. For more information about getting trails started or to check out existing trails, go to the OCT website at www.oregoncountrytrails.com