Over the past few years, Agri-tourism has become an important offshoot of the tourism sector, showing a potential business in its own space. Aiming to explore and uncover rural life, culture, art and heritage at rural locations, Agri-tourism works to support the local communities socially and economically. In order to take advantage of this current trend, the New Communities Land Trust, an organization founded in 1969 to provide a safe haven for Black farmers, has recently launched the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail. The project consists of a collection of stays and Experiences on Airbnb throughout southwest Georgia

Led by co-founder and USDA Equity Commissioner, Shirley Sherrod, the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail will support participating farmers in accessing the economic opportunities of local tourism through hosting while raising social awareness of the history and present-day needs of Black farming communities. 

The New Communities Land Trust, a  community land trust in the US and collective of more than 6,000 acres of farmland owned and operated by Black farmers, works to build generational wealth by supporting and educating its members on sustainable farming and agribusiness practices. The organization is headquartered at Resora, a former plantation near Albany that was originally owned by one of the largest slaveholder estates in Georgia and now represents and promotes racial reconciliation and healing.

Shirley Sherrod, co-founder of New Communities Land Trust and Resora | Courtesy of Airbnb

“When New Communities acquired Resora over a decade ago, we envisioned it as a place where we could farm the land, nurture the minds of people and empower our community. I look forward to the possibilities that this new partnership will bring to our members, the rich stories that will continue to be passed on through guests, and the type of relaxation and restoration that only being in nature can provide.”Shirley Sherrod, co-founder of New Communities Land Trust and Resora.

Supporting Black Farmers

Through the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail, the New Communities Land Trust and Airbnb are both supporting their members in tapping into the rural tourism economy, as well as offering travelers a relaxing rural getaway and the ability to engage with the Black farming communities.

“Travel has long opened new doors to discovery – and the very nature of hosting lends itself to telling stories, sharing traditions and understanding history firsthand. We are so pleased to launch the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail with Shirley and the New Communities Land Trust, not only to introduce these families to hosting, but also the global Airbnb community to the past, present and future of Black farming.” Catherine Powell, Global Head of Hosting.

According to Airbnb, domestic nights booked by US guests on the platform for stays in rural areas grew 110 percent in 2021, compared to 2019 – with nights booked at farm stays increasing by 40 percent since 2019. “Airbnb Hosts in rural counties earned $3.5 billion in 2021, and the typical farm stay Host in the US earned an average of over $10,300 in 20211,” the company states in a press release.

Over the past century, Black farmers in America have lost over 12 million acres of farmland, a result of discriminatory policy and business practices that have denied Black farmers with access to the resources needed to not only thrive but survive. As travelers continue to seek rural destinations, this offers an inherent opportunity to support Black farming communities – and through travel, learn the history and meet the farmers and families who are shepherding Black farming culture and agricultural traditions into the future.

Through the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism, guests will discover accommodations and activities at a variety of farms, ranging from tranquil retreats to one of the largest pecan growers in the South. Bookable stays and Experiences include: 

  • A 1,638-acre oasis getaway and a historically significant site. With its majestic cypress trees, serene pond views and early 19th century mansion, this place is undoubtedly a step away from the norm. 
  • An agricultural research lab for testing, site-learning and food production. The farm offers guests three cabins and cottages across the property, all with stunning views of and access to its natural surroundings and amenities. 
  • A tour through its agriculture and important role in the civil rights history of Southwest Georgia. Visitors will hop aboard the Bird Wagon and ride through all the highlights of the farm: from the 200-acre Pecan Orchard and Muscadine grape vineyard to the Bee Boxes and Duck Pond.
  • A tour through the Satsuma Orange Grove, to hear about the history of citrus production in the area —as well as learn about Josie Miller, a hero of the Southwest Georgia Civil Rights Movement and for whom a historic building near the orchard is named. 
  • A special “Taste of the South” Experience at Vicks Estate, Farm & Fishery. Farmer Clinton Vicks will treat guests to barbecue, cooked over a charcoal and wood fire pit. 

Guests can now book stays and Experiences on the Southwest Georgia Agri-Tourism Trail here.