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New agritourism mobile app aims to connect farms to consumers in Orange County

Orange County will pilot a new agritourism mobile app, aimed to connect North Carolina visitors to the agricultural assets of the state. 

The app, premiering in June, will connect tourists with farms where they can pick their own food. 

Laurie Paolicelli, director of Orange County community relations and tourism, said agritourism is tourism marketing that focuses on agriculture in an area spotlighting the food movement — a trend back to eating fresh locally grown food.

“Travelers want to get dirty, get real and immerse themselves in the bounty of farms, food and farmers,” Paolicelli said.

Annie Baggett, agritourism marketing specialist for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said she came up with the idea when she and Paolicelli teamed up to create a “pre-pilot” app, highlighting the numerous craft distillers across the state.

“We really need to raise awareness of all the rural assets in our county,” Baggett said. “How can we do that?”

Baggett said agritourism is a focus for Orange County, and the farms will be able to retain their brands within the app.

“We identified about 40 rural assets, and they’re all a little bit different,” Baggett said. “What we’re doing is creating contacts and itineraries by time, by interest.”

Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs said the county has been discussing agritourism for more than 15 years.

“People were trying to look for ways to get people to come out to the farm and pay money,” Jacobs said. “Over time, I think it has really grown.”

Austin Genke, one of the owners of Boxcarr Handmade Cheese in Hillsborough, said the app could be good publicity for farms, and it could start drawing more attention to North Carolina and Orange County agriculture. 

“Once we do open to the public, it would be good, especially for getting the travelers that might possibly want to check out a cool place to go, maybe go have some cheese, have a picnic or check out a farm,” Genke said.


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