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Blue Tin Ranch is the definition of Agri-Tourism. So what is it? That's what we wondered too! It has taken a few months (years actually) to figure it out, but we are sure on the way!

As some of you may know, we have been struggling with local government and their constraints on the business. Very early on, the editor of the local newspaper reached out to me and suggested I look into the new program being offered by SDSU Extension. As he said, it sounded exactly like the kind of business plan I envisioned for Blue Tin Ranch. He was spot on! He thought that this program might make end-roads with the government as a way to describe what we, and others, would want to do with the land we own.

What we want to do is welcome folks to our farm. We have such a beautiful farm place and love to share it. With those who remember Gramma and Grampa's farm, those who grew up on a farm and made the difficult decision to move to town, or those who have never had the opportunity to just flat out run on a lawn.

I reached out to SDSU, applied and was accepted into the 2 year program. I met some of the nicest and friendliest people! All of us want to do the same thing and that is to welcome the public to our property. Some wanted to welcome campers, some were interested in the gardening side of things, some were thinking of overnight stays, and some were looking at the super fun events side of things.

We traveled on some awesome case study trips, which I thought were the most helpful and most eye opening experiences. A pumpkin patch in ND which has grown from a handful of pumpkins to now being a regional attraction. A hops farm which had fallen into disrepair after the owners were wiped out by winter winds and a declining market. A dairy who branched out into creating their own milk products for sale. An incredible ranch in ND who did it all including events, hunting, brewery and raising cattle. It was so helpful to take some of their ideas and make them our own, and to also notice things that didn't work for them so we didn't make the same mistakes. Due to a winter blizzard and then COVID I missed out on two of the trips, which still has me disappointed!

We were also exposed to a multitude of businesses and government offices who oversee health and safety and tax requirements. Bankers and Insurance agents and law professionals also gave us valuable information. And most importantly, we were introduced to many of the amazing people who are in charge of the SD Dept of Tourism. These folks are full of energy, ideas, information and helped find ways for tourists to find us.

I have missed seeing everyone, but with the miracle of social media I have been able to keep up with most of them. They have been doing awesome and I'm so proud to know them!

So, did the program help? I say a resounding YES! Also, I am proud to say that Blue Tin Ranch is the very first business in South Dakota with a permit to operate an 'Agricultural Themed Event Center' More on that later ;)


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