Farming is no longer about growing crops, poultry or dairy, in the 21st century farmers have been at the forefront of how to diversify their business.

Huge examples such as The Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire show that innovation and investment can turn a simple dairy into an award-winning regional adventure park attraction.

At the Farm Business Innovation exhibition earlier this month, not only were there seminars on the basics such as land use, taxation, planning, grant schemes and legal challenges, there was also a host of new trends emerging from the stands.

Here The Retail Room gives you its take on the future of farming diversification in 2017:

  1. Distilleries/Microbreweries: Gin is one of the most rapidly rising stars in the alcohol world with sales soaring by a reported 34% from 2015 to 2016, with no signs of letting up any time soon. Distilleries too are on the increase in disused railway arches and derelict buildings much like their fermenting counterpart, microbreweries. Craft beers and vintage ciders were on everyones lips more than ever this year. In 2017 it’s time to create your own beer fest or take a punt at a gin tasting event. Got an empty cattle shed or a unused barn? The possibilities are endless.
  2. Adventure attractions: Days out are no longer just for assigned for kids; adult fun is the new kid on the block. Go Ape lead the way with their high rope adventures and there have always been quad bikes and paintballing, but now adults are looking for the likes of bouldering, Ninja Warrior-style assault courses, zip wires and trampolining to while away the weekend hours. Innovative Leisure – the adventure attractions specialists are leading the way with their Sky Trail and Water Wars designs, suitable for those with a little or a lot of space
  3. Glamping 2.0: When it was first introduced, Glamping was not only the choice de jour for festivals, but for hen do’s, family escapes and adventure holidays both across the UK and around the world. The rise if the Staycation has increased by 114% in recent years with families and groups looking increasingly for new accommodation experiences. So, in 2017 Glamping will look a lot different than when it was conceived more than two decades ago. Tree Tents impressed at the Farm Innovation exhibition, as did the Welsh Den Company and Clear Sky Safari Tents, whom all offer a quirky alternatives to staying outdoors. Do you have a field or a spot of woodland you haven’t used in a while? Maybe it’s time to think outside the tent.
  4. Renewable Energy: Solar panels have sprouted up on the roofs of family homes across the country, but farmers will be leasing their land to create fields of energy in 2017. Green will be replaced with a sea of grey panels as farmers respond to the demand on profitability continues. A power purchase agreement (PPA) can not only offer a free solar PV system, but it also allows you to half your energy costs today and over the long term. It’s a perk for your green credentials and gives your farm a better position when supplying to retailers that are campaigning for greener supply chains. Wind Farms offer an attractive proposition too.
  5. Water Sports: Lakes and ponds on farm land were once preserved for the local fishing enthusiasts but in 2017, the craze of paddle boarding is set to blow all of that out of the water. If your farm boasts a water spot, maybe it’s time to take to the craze that’s sweeping the nation. With little investment for equipment and insurance prices at a reasonable level, it’s about time to jump on the paddle board, before you miss the boat.

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