Dee Singh-Knights is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design at West Virginia University. While Dee’s research and teaching interests are broad (agribusiness economics and management, risk management and business planning, local foods initiatives, and holistic planning for small farms), she believes that agritourism represent an enormous opportunity to increase access to locally and regionally produced agricultural products, and to develop new market opportunities for farm operations serving local and expanded markets.
Dee has worked extensively with partners in WV over the last five years to start the WV Agritourism Initiative, a business planning and risk management program for individuals wanting to add an agritourism operation to their existing farms. Dee’s aim is to help operators seamlessly integrate agritourism into their farming operations and manage the resultant business risks, in order to harness the viable opportunities presented by both the agriculture and tourism industries while minimizing negative impacts on the farm.
Penny Leff is Agritourism Coordinator with the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program in the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She has coordinated UC statewide agritourism support for more than ten years, organizing agritourism training, planning, promotion and collaboration activities with UC Cooperative Extension and agricultural organizations throughout California. She manages online communication with the California agritourism community and a directory promoting CA agritourism operations to the public. Penny lives in Sacramento and enjoys working with the different agritourism associations and independent operators across the state.
Lisa Chase is the Director of the Vermont Tourism Research Center and Extension Professor at the University of Vermont. Her research and outreach focus on the intersection of food systems, community vitality, and working landscapes. During the past 18 years, she has worked with farmers and food entrepreneurs throughout Vermont and around the world. She is the conference chair of the International Workshop on Agritourism, which will be held in Burlington, Vermont in August 2021. Before moving to Vermont in 2002, Lisa conducted research and outreach in Colorado, New York, Costa Rica and Ecuador, among other places.
Weiwei Wang is a Research Specialist at the Center for Rural Studies and a MS candidate in the department of Community Development and Applied Economics, both at the University of Vermont. Her research primarily focuses on the food systems and her passion lies in community wellbeing through access, agency, and development, which has been informed by her experience in education, community activism, and project management. She has lived and worked in Boston, Shanghai and Beijing.
Dr. Ron Goldy, MSUE
Senior Extension Educator
Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center
Dr. Goldy conducts research and extension on new varieties, crops, and technologies, and irrigation and nutrients to help growers be sustainable. He also works with the direct market industry and helps consumers understand modern agricultural practices.
Jim leads a team of Customer Service oriented staff each summer and fall to provide a Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch, Sprint to Fall Corporate Events, Parties and Farm Weddings in the metro Louisville, Kentucky area. Farm Life is in its thirteenth year of operation providing a family friendly experience to the community including programs focused on group education with our local CVB team, and an Employee of the Year recognition program.
Farm Life is built on Jim’s family farm started by his Great Grandfather in 1911, and they are continually restoring the farm back to new-looking condition from the 1920s and 1930s. Jim was in computer related marketing for thirty-five years before retiring from Microsoft in 2008, when he started the Farm Life concept. They utilize the talents of many local craftsmen to build unique and very beautiful furniture, wooden swings and other crafts and decorations. They try to avoid the so-called commercialized style of many of their competitors in the region and maintain an old-fashioned country experience for their customers.
White House Fruit Farm is a fourth generation farm. Kim is from the third generation and began working on the farm as a young child. Her first job was folding baskets, which all farm children know leads to field work and beyond. After leaving the farm to get an education and raise a family, Kim returned to serve in various positions before choosing to grow the fall gift market. She presently manages the gift market and is busy developing yearly events on the farm.