Two farms have been selected in Scotland to develop their food tourism business and encourage other farmers to follow their example.
Working with other farms, the two new agri-tourism monitor farms, located in East Lothian and Dunbartonshire, aim to help the farming industry improve profitability, productivity and sustainability.
Shantron and Castleton Farms are examples of farmers developing agri-tourism, which has driven new income streams and generated thousands of visitors on to farms to learn about food and how it is produced.
Shantron Farm is a 1,500ha hill sheep farm in Dunbartonshire run by the Lennox family. They wanted to become a monitor farm to teach others how to sell the 'farm experience'.
The Lennox family said being agri-tourism farms 'offers a unique day out for the tourist and is financially lucrative.'
They said: “We have been in both farming and tourism for a long time but we feel that by combining the two much more smartly, we can develop a distinctive and innovative agri-tourism product in the Scottish tourism market.
“As monitor farmers we hope that other farmers can also learn alongside us on how to tell and sell their farming story much more effectively.”
Castleton Farm, run by farm couple Stuart and Jo McNicol, is a cereals farm and an existing events business running weddings and events on site.
They are now hoping to further develop their agri-tourism business to create a 'year-round destination'.
The McNicols said: “Part of this development is our new venture of running a café – Drift – so we applied to become monitor farmers to gain support, ideas and knowledge from our peers to help maximise the potential of this new business.”
Scottish government's Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing said the industry must become more 'profitable and sustainable' to 'secure business viability'.
“I hope others will follow their lead, helping to improve the sectors overall sustainability and profitability for the next generation,” he said.
“This investment in skills and knowledge sharing will contribute to the continued growth of the vibrant agri-tourism sector in Scotland, which is a key part of the new Food Tourism Strategy.”