Corn maze

A five-year-old girl makes her way out of a 10-acre cornfield maze in New Mexico. The farmer who built the maze is using tourism as a way to supplement income.

Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images

To some people, the term "agritourism" may summon images of white-collar tourists paying for the chance to do farm work, or perhaps the wacky television antics of beet farmers. However, more people than ever are jumping at the diverse opportunities provided by agritourism. Agriculturally-inclined tourists can vacation on an olive farm in Tuscany, pick grapes at a California winery, buy oranges from a roadside fruit stand and tromp through a corn maze.

­Agritourism is the practice of attracting visitors and travelers to agricultural areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes. Due to economic hardships and changes in the farming and livestock industries across­ the globe, many farmers -- especially those with small, family-owned farms -- have found they must supplement their agricultural business model and explore new ways of generating income.

Likewise, as the distance between the production and consumption of agricultural products grows, so too does consumer interest in how crops and livestock are raised. People want to reconnect with the agricultural practices of the past.

These two needs come together in agritourism which helps rebuild a relationship between producer and consumer that has all but vanished with the rise of heavily-industrialized farming methods.

So what makes a farm an agritourism operation? In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of agritourism.