Why “It’s a Wonderful Life” Nostalgia Can Save Small Towns

by Joanne Steele on June 26, 2012

I have a Google Alerts set for “agritourism,” and my email box is filled daily with news, blog posts, and new websites dedicated to agritourism. Here’s what I was drawn to today: “Farms grow greenbacks through agritourism.”

Agritourism has a message for small towns with no farms close by

What's your town's equivalent to a permanent hopscotch court in front of city hall?

Like this article about a 4 acre farm in Delaware benefiting from agritourism, most success stories are rich with examples of urban folks looking to these farms for connection, a taste of a simpler life and a way to discover something they feel is missing in their lives and the lives of their children.

I live in a small town and I know that the Mayberry RFD image of small town life is ridiculous. Many small towns I know about are probably more like the old Peyton Place!

But the thing that makes small towns attractive now, when visitors are looking for so much more than fun from their vacations is that for better or worse, small towns, like the 4 acre Delaware farm in the story, run on connection.

And whether we like it or not, the pace of our lives is probably slower than the lives of our urban neighbors.

If every small town (and I mean SMALL – 5000 or fewer residents) that is stumbling economically would start their road to revitalization with three words, “nostalgia,“connection,” and “simple,” they could discover their own road back.

Every article I read on successful agritourism operations talk about how their success is built on offering a nostalgic experience, giving visitors an opportunity to connect with a simpler way of life.

What about your small town can give a visitor an nostaligic experience and an opportunity to connect with a simpler way of life?

Then, read a past post , “First Step to Rural Tourism Success: Check Your Innovation Mindset,” to help take the next step.

Rural tourism done right will bring in just enough visitors to boost your local economy, and will probably also result in a few new residents and business owners who love you just the way you are and want to be a permanent part of your community.

It takes time, but time well spent.

Here is another post about agritourism and rural tourism:

Agritourism: Just Another Way to Say Rural Tourism


1 Loretta Zortman July 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

Always inspirational! Thanks again, Joanne. Hoping to bring people to Norfork Lake. 🙂

2 Joanne Steele July 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Loretta. Happy 4th!

3 Tammy July 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Great advice. My husband are driving rural in a few weeks to a farm to table event and I believe that it speaks exactly to your three points.

4 Joanne Steele July 2, 2012 at 7:23 am

Thanks Tammy. Have fun at the event. Where are you located?

5 Joanne Steele July 1, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Thanks so much for the great testimonial,Daryl. I hope all is prospering in Hickman, County.

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