Foodtopia! That’s what the locals call the food scene in Asheville, North Carolina. This community of culinary collaborators craft experiences to nurture your soul. One such culinary mastermind is Ann D. Stauss, owner and operator of Asheville Farm to Table Tours, one of only two tour companies of its kind in the United States, and a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike.
Ann’s distinguished culinary career began back in the 80s. She moved to Western North Carolina in 1999 and learned about the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), a non-profit that helps local farms thrive by linking farmers to markets and supporters, and building healthy communities through connections to local food. Through ASAP she attended a few phenomenal farm-to-table events and met many amazing chefs.
“One event featured a chef who debuted his cookbook during a farm-to-table dinner and a light bulb went off. Asheville has so many local farms, people who love the local food, and there are farm-to-table restaurants. I put all that together and opened Asheville Farm to Table Tours in November 2016,” explains Ann.
Asheville Farm to Table Tours is a Farm Camp for gourmet cooks, gardeners, foodies, and nature and animal lovers. Ann develops and hosts authentic and entertaining five to six-hour guided tour adventures where sustainable farmers share their passion and knowledge with guests that typically include a farm-sourced lunch or tastings. When Ann was searching for ways to market her business another light bulb went off—Explore Asheville!
“I took the time to understand everything Explore Asheville did for my business, and I could see bookings were coming from ExploreAsheville.com. I knew they were attracting the right audience for me and I decided I would get extra exposure by adding paid advertisements,” she shares.
The first Page Sponsor for Asheville Farm to Table Tours powered by Destination Travel Network appeared on ExploreAshevile.com on November 1, 2016. Ever since then, she has had a Page Sponsor on the Foodtopia Food Adventures & Culinary Experiences page that puts her business right in front of website visitors looking for businesses like hers.
“I thought about going on the Tours page but alphabetically I’m in the As,” Ann says. “I’d say 98.5% of guests who come on my tours are foodies. So I picked this placement to really reach those folks. I want to take their understanding of local food to the next level by introducing them to local farms and farmers,” she says.
Afternoon and full-day tour packages to local Appalachian farms give people a rare chance to go behind the scenes to learn about local food and where it comes from, and can even include artists. Take the brand-new Art & Agriculture Adventure Tour for example. This full-day adventure is in collaboration with Art Connections. Visitors start their day at an Alpaca farm where they’ll see and meet the animals before stopping by a pottery studio for an up-close and personal glazing demonstration. The tour concludes with a picnic lunch at a day lily farm during peak blooming season where a Plein air artist will paint a picture as guests watch the scene develop in real-time.
Ann credits her Page Sponsor on the DMO website with helping her grow her business. And she thinks some editorial requests she’s gotten from the media are from journalists who learn about her unique tour experience on ExploreAsheville.com.
“It’s been great working with Explore Asheville. The staff has been a lot of help to me, especially when I was starting out with so little knowledge about how some of these things work,” Ann says. “Meredith at Destination Travel Network is also very helpful, and Pam who does the bookkeeping is just lovely, very easy to work with and very clear.”
If you work for or own a business and are thinking about using paid digital content on your DMO website to attract more customers, Ann has some advice.
“If the website has the right page to attract your target audience, absolutely go for some added exposure. DTN is good at keeping facts and figures so you can see how the program works for you,” she says.
Asheville Farm to Table Tours will heighten your enthusiasm for, and change the way you experience, your food. You can learn more about Farm Camp and explore upcoming foodie adventures on their Facebook page. Be sure to follow the attraction on Facebook, Instagram, Yelp and YouTube!