The Artistic farm is an organic agritourism farm, which is located in a picturesque landscape area, close to the forest, in the Małopolska Voivodeship, in the southern part of Poland. There are many walking paths in the area, on which one can enjoy the beauty of nature. The owners, Maria Karaś and her husband have been running the eco-agritourism farm for 18 years. The farm is organic certified.
The farm has over three hectares, mainly sheep meadows, where they keep ten sheep. The wool is used for educational activities and the sheep themselves are an attraction for tourists visiting the farm. There is a herbarium on the farm, among others for educational activities, because the farm is also an educational farm and agritourism activity is also conducted.
The owners belong to the Małopolska Village Smelling of the Herbs Network for eight years. The farm is also in the Nationwide Educational Farms Network, under which the workshop is run by the owner. Educational packages are suitable for various target groups from young to old and for people with disabilities. The program will be adapted to the different requirements of the participants.
The owners inherited the farm from their parents. They have been living in Małopolska Voivodeship for generations. Ecology is very important to them, which is why they run a certified organic farm. The natural and landscape conditions are suitable for organic farming and agritourism activities.
The main agricultural products of the farm are herbs. For 8 years the owners are part of the Małopolska Village Smelling of the Herbs Network. Currently, there are 20 farms in the network where herbs are a passion. Apart from the herbs on the farm, they also produce handicrafts, that are also related to the herbs, because they add herbs for example, to bouquets made of the tissue paper using decoupage. In addition, the herbs are used to make soaps, creams, candles and tinctures, as well as cosmetic oils such as lavender, calendula, and thyme. As part of agritourism, the farm has four rooms for guests, and meals are also offered. Spices are usually made out of herbs.
To the owners, the farm and non-agricultural activities provide additional sources of income, besides another full-time occupation (full time position in the local cultural centre)
The owners are very active and willingly to cooperate with other residents. This is illustrated by their engagement in the folk band Porębianie, which is promoting the region.
Products that are produced on the farm are used for the needs of guests visiting farm (e.g. making handicrafts) and for various shows, fairs (promotion), as well as for the needs of workshops executed in the farm within the educational program. The farm is part of the Nationwide Educational Farms Network. The owner runs educational workshops.
The most important milestones in the farm´s development over the last 18 years:
1. Starting a farm using organic methods – a certified farm.
2. Starting sheep breeding
3. Beginning of growing herbs.
4. Starting agritourism business.
5. Entering the network of farms: the Małopolska Village Smelling of the Herbs Network.
6. Creation of an educational farm – the farm offers various activities for its own customers like: tissue paper, decoupage decorative techniques, string work, salt mass and plaster and work with herbs.
The farm owners started it 18 years ago, and have at the same time been running a regional band Porębianie. They use the band performances to promote their farm´s products. All mentioned milestones have already been achieved by the owner.
inherited the farm and did not use any subsidies for that. They used their own
savings to invest in the farm. The main investments are dedicated for the
adaptation of the existing facilities for agritourism. The owners gain their
main income from non-farming full-time employment. The farm and
non-agricultural activities are an additional source of income. Currently, the
owners get direct subsidies for the farm from the EU. Since the owner of the
farm does it for idealistic reasons and it is an additional occupation, the
income of the farm covers mainly the costs. The only source of limited income
comes from the educational workshops.
Innovation in tourism plays a key role in achieving economic success, especially in the context of launching new tourist products. For about two decades, rural areas in Poland have seen the development of rural tourism, including agritourism, also in the area of introducing new products and improving the quality of services provided, while promoting the organic approach.
The farm is part of the concept of balanced development of rural areas, because in addition to the basic agricultural activities, non-agricultural activities are carried out such as handicrafts, agritourism and educational activities – as an innovative activity.
According to Maria, it is necessary to attend a number of courses in order to be able to carry out these activities yourself. Many of them were attended by the owner herself.
For the future it is planned to further expand t educational activities with a particular emphasis on the promotion of ecology with herbs. She plans to increase the number of workshops on her farm to teach different groups of beneficiaries about advantages of the herbs and opportunities of a proper use of these natural, healthy plants. She plans also to develop handicrafts workshops.
Tips for the learner
In order to run such a business, one must first of all have the will, determination and the possibility of multifunctional development, because small farms can not only be maintained from agricultural production. You need to have discipline to run such a farm and openness to people as well. To be a farmer you have to not only do a course, but you must own a farm.
According to the owner, passion is the most important thing. You have to like what you do.
In summary, innovative products of rural tourism in most cases are focused on promoting an organic approach. In the case of educational homesteads, environmental education is included in the regulations. In contrast, network tourism products in rural areas are usually implemented by certified organic farms. On the basis of the case study analysed, it can be noticed that a tourist farm is not limited to only one innovation and one development direction but uses the concept of multifunctional rural development.
Authors: PhD Małgorzata Bogusz, Msc Maciej Dymacz