There’s No Going Back! Taiwan’s Leisure Farms Move Forward After the Pandemic
The pandemic has changed our everyday habits and travel options. Farms that are open, natural, and with abundant fresh food have become a top choice for safe travel. What have Taiwan’s leisure farms done in preparation for the post-pandemic era? How do they strike a balance between epidemic prevention and the leisure farm experience?
Since last year, most industries have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Just like tourism in general, leisure agriculture has also been bearing the brunt. During the worse period of the pandemic, the agricultural tourism industry has been working hard to fight the pandemic. At the same time, businesses have been taking advantage of having fewer visitors to improve the space, enhance staff competency, develop new experiential activities, and come up with new souvenirs to optimize the service quality and product features, in expectations of visitors’ return after the travel restrictions are lifted.
Mr. You Wenhong, Chief Secretary of the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association, often reminds himself that “70% of the effort is for now and 30% is for the future.” As a liaison between Taiwan’s industry, government, and academia, Mr. You and the association have worked side-by-side with the industry for years. They have watched Taiwan gradually developed from traditional agriculture (primary industry) to agricultural processing (secondary industry), then to agricultural tourism (tertiary industry). Even when the pandemic broke out, no one has stopped their pace.
For example, in April 2020, when most people were worried about controlling the pandemic, the association went through with their plan and held the “Agricultural Tourism Popular Vote” event with news media ETtoday in June, and the event was a huge success.
Afterward, the association ran the “5Gs of Healthy Travel, Fun in the Farms” marketing campaign to promote farm visits. The 5Gs stand for the five major selling points of agricultural tourism: good place, good food, good fun, good friend, and good time.
More recently, following the government’s economic stimulation policy, the association has launched the “Farmtour Market quintuplet stimulus voucher × agricultural tourism voucher” program. Visitors can choose to spend a day at a farm, stay one night at a farm, or the “888” plan. The promotion offers as much as a 20% discount. By meeting the minimum purchasing requirement, customers are entered in a prize drawing for an agricultural souvenir gift box. The promotion is active until the end of next April.
Mr. You explains that the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association is a non-profit organization and an industry-based association. The members collaborate more than they compete with each other as they work together to pursuit mutual benefit and enlarge the market that they all share. To cultivate talents, the association has established a leisure farm college to promote professional development; to ensure quality, it launched the Specialty Agricultural Tourism Certification program; to streamline all the products across Taiwan, it established an e-commerce platform “Farmtour Market”; to reach international customers, it has been marketing actively worldwide.
Mr. You also added that the Leisure Farm College courses are often located at large farms. Using real agricultural space and objects can better facilitate student learning. By the third year of the Specialty Certification program, 172 companies have earned the certificate. As for the online-only Farmtour Market, 500 different itineraries have also been developed. In addition, for the international inbound tourist market, the association keeps interacting with overseas tourists through social networks and social media. The association also invites travel agencies to explore and design new itineraries in as many places as possible, hoping to attract more people to visit Taiwan after the pandemic to experience the beauty of leisure farms.
For detailed information on Farmtour Market, visit https://www.taiwanfarm.com.tw
◆ Flying Cow Ranch: Natural, Healthy, and Family Friendly!
Flying Cow Ranch in Miaoli has beautiful scenery and a myriad of products. It is one of the birthplaces of large-scale breeding of dairy cattle in Taiwan. Because the ranch has a good relationship with some Japanese ranches, it has successfully borrowed from Hokkaido and Iwate the techniques for producing white pudding, hand-made cheese, cheesecake, half-baked soufflé cheesecake, yogurt drinks, and many other popular products.
In addition to the delicious dairy products, Flying Cow Ranch also offers many interesting activities, such as milking the cows, bottle feeding the calves, watching the duck parade, painting cow figurines, making milk-and-egg cakes, and making ice cream. These activities are great choices for learning and having fun for school field trips and family outings.
For details, visit https://www.flyingcow.com.tw
◆Toucheng Leisure Farm: A Trip to the Farm Kitchen
Toucheng Farm in Yilan County has been actively earning a number of certifications, including the halal certification and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council certification. The quality of the agricultural tourism it offers is evident. Visitors are thrilled with the farm’s hands-on food and agriculture education, discovery activities, circular agricultural courses, as well as cooking freshly harvested organic ingredients in the environment-friendly kitchen.
Visit now and join activities such as painting conical hats, and then wear these painted hats to the rice field. You can also pick organic vegetables, plant potted vegetables, tour the farm, push the stone mill to experience the traditional rice milling method. You can also enjoy the taste of the olden days by eating traditional farmer’s snacks and a special farm dish, “the harvest meal.”
For details, visit https://www.tcfarm.com.tw
◆Violet Forest Villa: Have the Entire Farm to Yourself
Violet Forest Villa in Sanfu Leisure Farm has been closed for nearly 2 months due to the epidemic prevention measures. During the period, they organized staff training, developed new services, tidied the gardens, and worked hard to keep the farm going. Although the pandemic has muted the sounds of the tourists in Violet Forest, the cicadas, frogs, and birds sing on, and the mountains and creeks are as beautiful as ever.
With the “mini-lifting” of anti-epidemic restrictions, the Violet Forest has reopened without the 1-day tour and itineraries. The only visitors allowed are those who are lodging at the villa. With crowd control and capacity reduction, fixed-point trips are provided for the visitor’s peace of mind. From September to October, in line with the pomelo season, the “Pomelo Means Happiness” one-night + two-meal promotional package is available. Visitors are welcome to pick Dongshan pomelos, get close to nature, and be restored with positive energy.
For details, visit http://www.sanfufarm.com.tw
◆Zhuo Ye Cottage: Local Creative Cuisine
Zhuo Ye Cottage is set in the mountains of Sanyi, Miaoli. The owner chose the theme of plants for the restaurant and the homestay. A natural indigo-dyeing studio was also established, and the brand “Indigo Dyeing House” was created.
Zhuo Ye’s restaurant emphasizes the natural taste of seasonal food. It turns the produce of small local farms and traceable ingredients into creative vegetarian dishes that are fresh and delicious. Natural plant dyes are used to color the ingredients to make dishes like the colorful fermented vegetable buns and rainbow gnocchi satisfying for both the eyes and tastebuds. In addition, those who book Zhuo Ye’s double-bed room (the Cangshan Room) can also enjoy the chef’s special banquet dishes. Whether vegetarian or meat-based, every dish is healthy and nutritious.
For details, visit https://www.joye.com.tw