Agriculture Tourism Community: Fostering the Resilience of Urban Neightborhoods in a Changing Tourism Economy
Increasingly, tourists desire to have more genuine experiences with both nature and foreign cultures through ecotourism and adventure tourism. The industry has shifted to be more concerned with its environmental footprint, which can be beneficial, but has a complex set of consequences. While more universally lucrative for governments and foreign entrepreneurs, the benefitsof ecotourismÕs increased popularity rarely extend to the towns and villages in which resorts are built. Culturally rich neighborhoods across the United States face similar consequences as they are gentrified by entrepreneurs with no stake in the existing community looking to profit from the online short term rental boom. Parallel disconnects exists in both international and domestic tourism between the actual and perceived authenticity of place. Small farms that participate in the local food movement have made great strides in advocating against the unhealthy and unsustainable practices of the industrial agricultural complex that dominate o global food system. This has lead to a higher quality of food production and environmentally sustainable consumption practices have become the expectation. Many small farmsÕ dependency on exploitation of migrant labor, going against our romanticized image of the family farm, shows a disconnect between our popular concern for ethical cultivation of produce and livestock and concern for the ethical treatment of the laborers who do it. The romanticized image of what an American farm looks like has also become racially homogeneous in the United States as a history of oppression and racially prejudiced policies have forced African-Americans out of organized agriculture with few left to advocate for the vital role agriculture plays in the defense of black land ownership. This thesis looks to analyze the opportunities culturally threatened neighborhoods within American cities have through intersection with the tourism industry and the local and organic food movements. Through critique of the successes and shortcom gs of tourism and farming, an argument will be made for the potential neighborhood farms have to utilize the flourishing agritourism industry as a way of promoting more sustainable lifestyle practices through connecting tourists with the process of growing food, its relationship to the larger environment, and the communities most influenced by injustices that exist within AmericaÕs food system. It will look at tourism through a lens of knowledge and self improvement rather than leisure and the opportunity to develop resorts as community and education centers rather than places of privilege. Through this model, neighborhood farms would advocate for food and environmental justice while fostering resilience within communities of color who have been less visible despite being just as active in AmericaÕs agricultural revolution.