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Worldwide audience tours a variety of Illinois farms
By DEBORAH BEHRENDS
Illinois Correspondent

SYCAMORE, Ill. — DeKalb County’s proximity to Chicago and the John Deere factory in Moline put it in a perfect position to educate others about agriculture.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau Manager Doug Dashner said some of the county’s farmers have received requests for tours for years. Rather than turning away the curious, they found a way to make the most of the situation.

“Tours can be a burden on the farmer’s time. They really didn’t have to invest anything; everything they need is already there. Their only investment is their time,” Dashner said.

Although time is of the essence on the farm, “some decided they would be willing to offer tours of their operations for compensation,” Dashner said.

So about six years ago, the DeKalb County Farm Bureau and several operators started partnering with tour groups to offer the tours, generally to foreign groups involved in some aspect of agriculture in their native lands.

Dashner said 12 different farms have participated in hosting groups from China, Japan, Germany, England, France, Russia, Norway, Brazil, Argentina and the Czech Republic, among others.

The local farming operations include those raising cattle or hogs, a dairy farm, grain farms and an orchard.

He said school groups have toured area farms, but the tours are aimed primarily at adult groups.

Dashner said when he receives word a group wants to visit, he learns as much about the group as possible so he can match the visitors with the best operation to suit their needs.

“They provide the transportation here and their own translator. While in the county we get them to the farm and send them on their way after the tour,” Dashner said.

“It’s a way for the farmers to earn a little more without leaving the farm,” Dashner said.

Standard pricing, according to the group’s website is $225 for a tour lasting about two hours for 40 visitors or more.

For more information about the tours, contact Dashner at DeKalb Farm Tours LLC, 815-756-6361, or visit www.dekalbfarmtours.com

This farm news was published in the April 12, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/12/2006