On the evening before our tickets go on sale for Ridge and Valley Tours, we can’t help but wonder how our sales will go.  Will this idea, this business, that we have come to grow and love translate into actual seats sold?  The anticipation we are experiencing is an interesting emotion. Have we started something that will resonate with our future customers? Many have told us it is a great idea but does the idea compel people to buy tickets? It’s almost like having a baby (well, not quite!)

Marty and I have really enjoyed the process of building out this business. 
The journey so far has been great. We have grown closer as a couple and it is great to use our respective talents. We feel like we see our area of the state with new eyes of appreciation. These great farms and businesses have been there all along,. If you step away and come back to a place, perspective changes. My job as a flight attendant has helped me see many things differently.

Our area is truly beautiful and like no other area. We want to share it with those visiting from near and far. It has been wonderful meeting with each of our partner sites and going on their farms. We hope our future customers know just how excited our farmers and businesses are to have you as guests on their farms. They have bought into our idea and look forward to having guests they can educate and entertain. Unfortunately, there is a lack of good news in farming right now and this business idea has brought a bit of hope to our community.

Agritourism may be the next thing to really exert some impact in agriculture.  Along with the food-to-table movement, consumers have never had so many opportunities to connect with their food sources. After years of the industrial food complex and it’s depleting methods, people want to know more about what they put in their bodies. Their health has been suffering and many want vitality from their food. They have come to expect good food made from quality ingredients. The organic movement has revolutionized the food industry.

Many of our partner farms are doing some really cutting-edge sustainable techniques to improve their soil, water, and animal habitats.  Regenerative pasturing is a topic you will hear more about in the future, as it has some impact on climate change. As consumers continue to seek better food sources and organic options, prices will come down in the stores. As farmers get more control over their ability to market their own products and sell direct to co-ops, farmer’s markets and artisanal producers, they will begin to be compensated appropriately for their work. 

One of the reasons I am very excited about this tour business is I was personally feeling at a loss on how to deal with the decreases in family farms. Stories have been released with great frequency decrying the number of farm bankruptcies in Wisconsin and it saddens me to see fewer farms. When my sister in law struggled to find a farm to host the Richland County dairy breakfast last year, I became very concerned. She is the chairwoman in charge of the annual event that takes place usually on the grounds of a dairy farm. She has done the breakfast for over 30 years and it has never been so hard to come up with an appropriate site. They ended up having the breakfast at the county fairgrounds. It was just another example of how agriculture and family farms are changing in SW Wisconsin.

I grew up on my grandparents dairy farms. Both sides of my family were raised on the farm. My husband grew up on a large dairy farm. It has been in our family DNA for a long time. I loved taking cows out to pasture and the smell of fresh cut hay. I enjoyed gathering eggs and feeding calves or cleaning the milk house with Grandma. Call me nostalgic, but I don’t want that to disappear in our society. I intend for our daughters and grandsons to take our tour this summer and see the farms. I want them to experience a bit of what I enjoyed as a kid. I hope many can see the farms up close. Perhaps, this is the beginning of great and sweeping changes and people will gravitate back to smaller farms.  Or, maybe our farm tours will be treated like operational museum’s. In either case, I believe everyone, young and old, has much to learn from a day on the farm. 

I hope some come along to reminisce and study our heritage. I hope some come to enjoy some really good food and drink. Honestly, we are going to eat cheese, beer, and wine! How can we fail with a lineup like that?! I know everyone will have a good time because I know my husband. As your tour guide, he will make you feel at ease, tell some great stories, teach you about farming and most importantly, you will have fun. I wish I could go along on all the tours, but those seats are for paying customers! 

We hope to include you all in the story of our success.  We hope to share many great stories and can’t wait to read your reviews. If you have ever thought of taking a weekend in Southwest Wisconsin, this summer would be a great time! See you soon! Tickets go on sale today at 9:00am. As your reward for reading this whole blog, the discount promo code for today only, lasting 12 hours from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, is launch15. Thank you for your support!

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