Ten years into offering agritourism at Green Mountain Girls Farm, I see a future within which Vermont persists as a global geotourism leader and as a place where farms succeed by working with natural cycles, providing healthy food and creating stronger rural communities.

Our business needs the rich culture of Vermont’s working landscape and our verdant ecosystems. We practice regenerative agriculture and open our farm to tourists. This income enables us to invest in farming practices which not only grow clean, delicious and nutrient dense food, but also enhance soil life and ecosystem services. In return, our guests — primarily individuals and families prioritizing wellness and who want their food and tourism choices to support social and ecological health — satiate their senses, satisfy their quest for connection and deepen their appreciation for Vermont.

Small, diverse ecological hill-farms like ours have struggled with viability for decades but the global syndemic of obesity, undernourishment and chronic disease, together with climate change, create a timely opportunity for us to meet emerging needs. Statewide, geotourism (tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents) and regenerative agriculture together create a niche with breakthrough potential.

Nationally, private-sector thought leaders like Patagonia are seizing this moment of opportunity and are boldly expanding into food and supporting organic regenerative agriculture. Closer to home and back in time, following World War II, a 10th Mountain Division veteran from New Jersey named Erling Omland met Connie Burke, a bank secretary from Rutland, while walking up Pico’s Sunset Schuss. They married and were part of a dynamic community that supported Pico’s evolution, including the famous T-bar, North America’s first alpine ski lift. Since, we all have experienced Vermont’s quantum leap in tourism associated with snow sports.

With increasing interest in culinary tourism, wellness and rural getaways, this feels like agritourism’s time to make its own quantum leap. Please consider this breakthrough potential as you deliberate current legislation.

Mari Omland

Green Mountain Girls Farm

Northfield

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