Agriculture is a vital part of the Clarke County economy and is a highly diversified local industry. The agricultural industry in Clarke County includes, but is certainly not limited to, conventional beef and dairy farming, specialty fruit and vegetable processing, farmers markets, vineyards, and wholesale nurseries. Clarke County also features many horse breeding operations that range from Triple Crown racers to fox hunters, jumpers, and three day eventers.
Clarke County prides itself in its agrarian past and has taken active steps to make agriculture a vital part of their Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. These steps will ensure agriculture is not only a large part of our present day life, but will remain a large part of our future as well.
Agritourism is one of the fastest growing small industries in Virginia, and Clarke County is ideally situated to take advantage of the “back to the land” movement! Clarke County prides itself on being the leader in Virginia to protect and preserve their agricultural and forestal lands. Our proximity to the northern Virginia suburbs and cities makes for a large, diverse customer base that is continually asking for more than what the typical store has to offer.
“What is Agritourism and how do I get started?”
Agritourism is the practice of attracting visitors and travelers to agricultural areas, generally for educational and recreational purposes. It also includes the selling of your produce grown or raised on your property.
Agritourism can be accomplished of properties as small as 3- acres or can be an income supplement for larger conventional farms. Clarke County has made getting started simple and streamlined. The following are examples of agritourism businesses and any given business may incorporate more than one such business on the same property. The examples listed below require only a single page zoning application and business license and the entire process can take less than 15 minutes!
- Christmas Tree Farms
- Farm Markets
- Pick Your Own Fruits and Vegetables and Roadside Stand Sales
- Small Scale Production of Local Produce such as honey, jelly, jams, herbs, meats
- Wholesale Landscape Production of Plants, Trees and Shrubs
- Equine Activities such as boarding, riding lessons and trail rides
- Small Scale Farm Animal Petting Zoo
- Herb Farms
- Accessory Gift Stores (limited to 25% of the floor space of your home or equal size to an accessory building)
- Pick Your Own Flowers and Roadside Stand Sales
These are just a few examples. Let your imagination take flight and contact the Clarke County Zoning Administrator at 540-955-5132 and have their staff help you get started right away!