At one time, if you didn't know how to get to an off-the-highway agritourism site before you left, you might have been lucky to arrive there. In New Jersey, that's changing thanks to recently updated Tourist Oriented Destination Sign program and more colorful signage.
State Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation officials revised the TODS program, tailoring it to help agricultural businesses build their base of regular customers and attract more tourists. Alstede Farms in Chester Township, one of 23 agritourism operations in the state benefitting from highway signs directing drivers to their locations.
Owner Kurt Alstede has participated in the program for 12 years, placing signs on Route 206 directing drivers to turn onto Route 513 to reach his farm. The new regulations allow him to place additional signs on Route 10 in Randolph. That's especially helpful since his farm is on a road with four different names, none of which work in online mapping programs.
"The signs are one more piece of the puzzle that helps them get to their destination," says Alstede. "They are more than directional signs," points out Alstede. "They also function as advertisements."
And it all helps, says this Master Farmer who grows a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and ornamentals on his 600 acres.
Ag Secretary Doug Fisher notes: "The ability to place a series of directional signs on roadways leading to the farm will go a long way toward helping consumers reach their desired destination and increasing business for farmers."
And the rules are . . .
The new regulations allow placement of signs on state highways up to 10 miles from their location. And a chain of signage can be used on county or township roads leading to the facilities.
The businesses must be open a minimum of six hours each day, five days a week during their growing or operating season. There's an annual fee of $400 for each sign. The rules take into account that agritourism is usually a seasonal business, exempting them from certain provisions.
N.J. Department of Transportation regulations define agritourism as "a style of tourism that offers activities that occur on a farm and are related to the agricultural use of the farm site, including, but not limited to: on-farm sales of agricultural products directly to the consumer, such as roadside farm markets, community farm markets, pick-your own operations, you-cut Christmas trees or wineries; educational activities and tours; entertainment, such as corn mazes, hay rides, seasonal festivals, petting zoo or haunted barns; and outdoor recreation and lodging."
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