Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From Losing Money to a New Niche

“My cousins and siblings and I are the 6th generation of the Burrows family in California. My great, great, great grandfather, Rufus Gustavis Burrows came to California with his parents in 1848 when he was 16 years old. We were a cattle ranch but in the 1970s and 80s we were losing money,” Tara Burrows was telling the history of the transition that started in 1985 with her grandfather, Bill Burrows.

In that year her grandfather started to expand into a new area of agri-tourism. Today, they produce 60 to 70% of the 3,500 acre ranch’s income from wildlife and 30 to 40% from cattle operations.

Hunting, mostly from returning hunters, provides 90% of that income. They also are experimenting with carbon sequestering through perennial grasses and beginning discussions about turning the ranch into a conservation easement so that it will remain undeveloped forever.

I’m convinced the potential for agri-tourism, niche agri-producers combined with the arts has great potential for certain areas of our country, especially places like northern CA with its rich and diversified agricultural base. Some of the possible stops in Tehama County, CA include: Julia’s Fruit Stand; Sodard Orchards Fruit Stand; Abbey of New Clairvaux Winery; Burnsine Vineyards; North Valley Farms; Pacific Sun Olive Oil; Antelope Creek Farm; Lucero Olive Oil; Corning Olive Oil; The Olive Hut; and The Olive Pit.

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