Foodies, Farmers, Chefs, Oh My! See How One PhD Student Seeks to Increase Agritourism and Diversify Farm Income

— Written By Maude Dinan
Busy hands on the Brothers Farm

Busy hands on the Warren Brother’s Farm. Photo courtesy of People-First Tourism.

Farm to table restaurants fuel the local food movement, as many consumers seek fresh, locally-sourced food options. North Carolina chefs and their restaurants have proven successful in this venture, gaining recognition across the state and country. However, less recognition is given to the hard-working individuals behind the produce, meat, and dairy that elevate these restaurants’ dishes.

Ferreira at Warren Brother's Farm

Bruno Ferreira visiting Warren Brother’s Farm. Photo courtesy of People-First Tourism.

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management PhD student, Bruno Ferreira, seeks to combat this disparity through his research on Permatourism. Permatourism refers to the complementarity of bottom-up and top-down (e.g., local and corporate) participation, from both formal and informal sectors, to generate novel and regenerative experiences. Ferreira explains “By leveraging the high visibility of famous chefs with a record of supporting local small farms, we hope to increase visits to local farms and diversify farm income.” Agritourism will not only build relationships between people, their food sources, and providers, but also bolster the rejuvenation of rural areas.

Chef and farmer collaboration

Warren Brothers Farm working with restaurant Chef & the Farmer. Photo courtesy of People-First Tourism.

Ferreira works closely with a team of NC State Extension specialists from economic development, local food, and tourism backgrounds, partners with North Carolina counties, farmers, and chefs on the Fork to Farmer Initiative. The initiative seeks to illuminate the chef-farmer collaborations, and the contributions made by each, through a series of short films. These films, featuring North Carolina chefs, farmers, and their stories, can be found on Extension’s Local Food YouTube channel. The initiative also provides agritourism training for farmers to prepare for farm visitation by restaurant clientele and local food tourists.