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LANDSCAPE DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR AGRI-TOURISM SITES

Aikaterini GKOLTSIOU
Ph.D. in Geography, Landscape architect, 10, Psatha street, Melissia 15127, Athens, 2106136246,
agkolj@otenet.gr, info@agrodesign.gr
Eva PAPADIMITRIOU
Landscape architect, 10, Psatha street, Melissia 15127, Athens, 2106136246, info@agrodesign.gr

ABSTRACT
The main goals of this paper were to highlight the importance of landscape planning and
design of rural areas and more specific of agritourism farms, to present the methodological
procedure for the extraction of landscape guidelines and to apply them to well know agritourism
examples in Greece and abroad.
In order to fulfill the above objectives, a) a detailed literature review was conducted and
selective examples from worldwide were selected, b) a landscape analysis was performed, in order
to gather specific place elements which are important for the promotion of agritourism, as well as
habits, requests and perceptions of visitors and entrepreneurs, c) a broad classification of
agritourism activities concluded to a proposed zoning, d) issues related to design of agritourism
sites and the works of landscape architect were introduced and e) landscape design guidelines were
presented in order to highlight the importance of planning and landscape design of agritourism
facilities.
The results were principle landscape guidelines which referred to the five basic categories of
land use zoning (outdoor recreation, education, on-farm direct marketing, accommodation, and
entertainment), to the types of landscape elements, the facilities and services, the accessibility and
safety, the attractiveness of the place and its integration to the surrounding landscape and to the
environmental care (energy saving and environmental impact).
Keywords: agritourism, landscape design guidelines, planning.

INTRODUCTION
Current financial and national crisis creates a strong urgency to promote our local culture
and resources. Thus some agricultural sectors explore alternative ways in the industry of
agriculture, such as super foods or previously overlooked traditional ways of production for native
products. Among them, rural tourism and more specifically agritourism offers the opportunity to
the current farmer and tourism entrepreneur to maintain or increase their income and preserve their
natural resources, (Kiper 2011, Busby & Redle. 2000) by maintaining their lifestyle. Modern
consumers are not only looking for local, fresh, organically or naturally grown products, but are
also interested in farm culture and agricultural heritage. Agritourism offers them the opportunity to
engage in interactive educational and outdoor activities (Indiana Land Resources Council 2012)
and to enable farmers to diversify their activities while enhancing the value of their products and
property (Reynolds, 2005). This type of tourism is a hybrid concept that merges elements of two
complex industriesagriculture and travel/tourismto open up new, profitable markets for farm
products and services and provide travel experience for a large regional market (Wicks & Merrett,
2003). As a result, it helps to preserve rural lifestyles and landscape and also offers the opportunity
to provide "sustainable" or "green" tourism (Privitera, 2010, Kiper & zdemir 2012).
In Greece, agritourism was empirically applied from 1970 and more systematically in the
80s, due to European funding for rural development; its true sense however was never served
(Iakovidou, O. 2006). Quite often the terms of agrotourism, agritourism and rural tourism are
confused and agritourism is substituting all of them (Roberts, & Hall, 2001). Rural tourism was
more focused on new accommodation facilities and not so on products and activities in the farm.
However, tourists did not stay in farms and did not gain experiences of the farmers everyday
lives. Rural activities were not designed in order to help the rural development and the promotion
of Greek countryside. Most of them so called agrotouristic, agritouristic facilities served mass
tourism instead of rural tourism. Therefore, agricultural landscape has changed and most of the
land was exploited for housing and other uses at an alarming rate, resulting to the loss of main
farmland near all major cities and close to many rural towns.
In relation to the above, tourism attractiveness natural and cultural- and sustainability in
agirtourism are very essential factors and can be accomplished only if argitourism activities follow
specific standards (Siriphanich et al.2011). The standard of management administration
systematization, 2. The standard of consumer, 3. The standard of opportunity for community
participation, 4. The standard of facility and services, 5. The standard of tourism resources image ,
6. The standard of agricultural activities, 7. Lastly, the standard of opportunity to enhance farm
knowledge for tourists.
As a result, agri- tourism activities which are not performed according to the above
standards and specific design guidelines might not attract tourists and cause the disturbance in
environmental, economic socio-cultural fields (Lane, 1994). Therefore, the planning-design
process from qualified people is very important as well as informing the local people about the
effects caused by agri-tourism and rural tourism to be developed in their area. During this process,
the landscape potential of a site should be first of all determined, while the activities that could be
performed and the implementation areas should be then decided. The main objectives of this paper
are to highlight the importance of landscape planning and design of rural areas and more specific
of agritourism sites and to present guidelines for landscape design, which landscape architects,
planners and geographers can use as a guide in designing agritourism activities and elements.

METHOD
The main goal of this paper is to highlight the importance of landscape planning and
design of rural areas and more specific of agritourism farms, as well as to present the

methodological procedure for the extraction of landscape guidelines. This research has four
objectives, which are:
1) To analyse the importance of landscape design and planning for the sustainable
development of agritourism facilities.
2) To form a landscape design methodology, adapted to agritourism related activities in
Greece.
3) To present guidelines for landscape design, which landscape architects, planners and
geographers can use as a guide in designing agritourism activities and elements.
4) To investigate how the above guidelines apply to well know agritourism examples in
Greece and abroad.
The methodology follows a hierarchical structure of eight basic levels: literature review;
analysis process; design-phase 1,in order to conclude to a proposed zoning; synthesizing data and
develop landscape design guidelines; design phase 2,in order to conclude to a final design master
plan; design presentation techniques; implementation of the guidelines and design process to
specific case studies).
Literature review shows the research of several scholars to promote agritourism and
landscape design (Polucha et al.2011, Siriphanich et al.2011). Especially, in the U.S. planning
process for agritourism (Lancaster Country Planning Commission 2009) is developed for each
county. However, in many countries including Greece, the promotion of agritourism through a
careful landscape design which will follow specific landscape guidelines is inexistent.
The proposed agritourism planning process begins with the analysis, which entails an
exploration of all the constraints and opportunities inherent in the site under consideration and
finishes with the design, which involves ranking them in importance and developing the most
appropriate solution. The landscape analysis is performed, in order to gather specific place
elements which are important for the promotion of agritourism, as well as habits, requests and
perceptions of visitors and entrepreneurs. This pre-design work includes three basic phases: a)
resource analysis, b) client requirement analysis, c) agritourism potential analysis. The resource
analysis focuses on the examination of landform, slope and contour, climatic factors, the
identification of the existing plants, the valorisation of small architecture elements, the soil
analysis (pH and habitat test), and on the landscape valuation or landscape analysis of view axis,
points, openings, observation sequences and distinguishing marks. The client requirement analysis
is based on an interview with the owners of the facility and guests, about their needs, habits,
requests, expectations and preferences in connection with the estimated number of visitors, ages
and nationality. Lastly the analysis of agritourism potential aims to investigate the agricultural
characteristics of the site, the willingness of the farmers to participate, the agritourism standards
that should be followed and the related laws and regulations of the country. After finalizing the
standards of argi-tourism activities for the site, defining the general concept, determining the scale
of the development, a study of the agri-tourism land use types (zoning), activities and elements
takes place in order to form the landscape design guidelines.
The main idea of the functional zoning is based on four specific roles that agritourism has
to play: a) the aesthetic, b) the environmental care, c) the educational (demonstration), d) the
economic (production). The aim of the agro-tourism activities are: a) Agricultural knowledge
transfer, b) Agricultural demonstration activity and plot, c) Exchange of agricultural ideas or
opinions. Therefore a proposal of a functional area zoning, based on the work of Polucha, Elkhatib
and Zukovskis (2011), foresees to combine the production, representative and recreational areas
(see Figure 1).

Communication system (greenery along

Natural Fences (rows of trees and


shrubs, hedges, pergolas, trellises)

the roads, walkways, parking space)

PRODUCTION AREA

REPRESENTATIVE AREA

RECREATIONAL
AREA

FARMING AND
EDUCATIONAL FUNCTIONS

AESTHETIC, PROTECTIVE
AND INTRODUCING
FUNCTIONS

LEISURE, SPORTS AND


HEALTH FUNCTIONS

FRUIT ORCHARDS
VEGETABLE GARDENS
HERBAL GARDENS

FRONT GARDENS
RURAL GARDENS
DECORATIVE AND REST
PLACES

PLAYGROUNDS
SPORT FIELDS
BONFIRE PLACES
PONDS AND BRIDGES

-Plants with names of


plant species
-paddocks for animals
-exhibition of agricultural
machinery, tools

-Decorative plants
-Flowerbed, plants in pots

-Attractive trees and shrubs


-Recreation and sports leisure

Grass carpet lawns


-Waterholes, Fountains
- Passive recreation space
-Accommodation areas
-Tourist service areas
-Marketing-shop area)

-Small architectural elements


(garden sheds, gazebos,
tables, benches, playground
device, sport and recreation
equipment, outdoor games,
lighting, e.t.c.)

FUNCTIONS AND COMPONENTS OF GREEN AREAS


IN THE AGRITOURISM FACILITIES

Figure 1. Proposal of the functional area zoning within the agritourism facilities (Polucha,
Elkhatib, Zukovskis, 2011).
The development of specific landscape design guidelines was then based on the research
of Siriphanich, Angsuratana, Pathom,Tepwongsirirat, and Kalpax (2011), which was ameliorated
and enriched. After developing the landscape design guidelines, a final master plan can be
prepared, with a planting framework as well as access network and parking layout. The expansion
of the concept for preparing the final master plans is achieved by a detailed technical process,
using digital technique and computer programs. The information contained are the following:
Land levelling, soil preparation, marking of underground infrastructure;
Fencing and communication plan (parking, entrances, roads, driveways, walking trails,
walkways, sites, terraces etc.);
Specification of areas and types of the surfaces;
Location of light points (power points, electrical outlets etc.);
Watering systems (underground and above ground sprinklers, pumps, etc.);

Water reservoirs (ponds, waterholes, piers, bridges);


Small architecture and decorative elements (including fountains, cascades, pergolas, trellises,
wall abutments, sculpture, gazebos, garden furniture);
Playground and sport-recreational equipment placement;
List containing the types and quantities of the plants and graphic planting layout and composition
of vegetation;
Detailed dimensioning of the zones and chosen elements and surfactant quantitative summary of
materials used;
Executive estimate and implementing work schedule (work calendar).

RESULTS
Guidelines
The results obtained in this research were principle landscape guidelines which referred to
the seven basic categories of a) land use zoning (productive, educational, recreational,
representative), b) the types of landscape elements (farm size, location and dimension of
structures, c) the facilities and services, d) the accessibility, e) safety, f) the attractiveness of the
place and its integration to the surrounding landscape (agricultural aesthetics) and g) to the
environmental care (energy saving and environmental impact). In order to establish sustainable
tourism development, the above guidelines covered basic activities, land use and landscape
management for agro-tourism which could be used by farmers and tourism related parties in
improving their agro-tourism business.
In the following table the general concepts of landscape design guidelines and their adequate
activities are presented.
Table 1. General concepts of landscape design guidelines for agritourism sites.
General Concepts
(what we should take into consideration
during landscape design)
1. Land use (zoning)

Specifications

-Number of weekly tourists and short time


visitors without disturbing the activities
and the environment
-Number of staff
-Number of animals/space according to rules and
regulations
ii. Agricultural areas (educational, productive, -farm service: garbage collection zone
-production and processing
demonstration factor)
-demonstration plot for products & activities
iii. Cultural life style zone that
allows -Adequate space to accommodate cultural activities
tourist
-native plant collection area
iv. Conservation principles
-low fertilizer use plot
-biological pest control
-animal dung as fertilizer-compost
2. Landscape elements
i. Carrying capacity

i. Sufficient

ii. Simple design, integrated to landscape

-Adequate number of landscape equipment


(seating, lighting) according to visitors capacity
-Adequate farm size and crops
-Style depend on design theme and site identity

iii. Low environmental impact


3. Facilities and services

-Outdoor seats in protected areas (from wind and


sun) & to face activities
-Eco friendly materials

-Relative functions close to agricultural


demonstration activities for groups of short time
visit tourists.
-Relative functions close to production areas, with
seats and shade corners.
.
-Adequate number of activities to keep visitors
ii. Sufficient
busy
-Local material, eco friendly (stone, wood).
iii. Provide safety: materials
-No poisonous plants, without thorns
-Style depend on design theme and site identity
iv. Simple design, integrated to landscape
-Native plants for decoration
-Hierarchy of open spaces (small place which
opens to larger one- e.g. fields open to countryside)
-Seating areas to accommodate short term
v. Education on life style & culture
seminars.
-Space to accommodate small traditional festivals.
-Small museum for art & crafts
-Alternative source of energy
vi. Low environmental impact
-Eco friendly materials
-Marketing shop and tourist service areas close to
vii. Concern group of short time visit
production & demonstration areas.
viii. Concern about children and elderly -Design various playground activities
-Create space for social activities (cooking, wine
people
testing, etc.)
-Seating areas close to demonstration
p
4. Accessibility
i. Convenient: easy to find

i. Easy to find

ii. Easy to use and control

-Careful layout of paths which connect goals and


points of interest
-Memorable main entrance: represent farm
uniqueness
-Position of the entrance to be seen immediately
from the main roads
-Signage with a) clear information labeling,
b) sculpture, c) landscaping
-Correct surfacing to ensure safe braking
-Perforated compacted soil/ gravel/ asphalt/
concrete
-Signage and traffic calming design to reduce car
speed

5. Safety
i. Prohibition and warning

ii. Active location

-Regularly and warning sign where needed


-Display rules and warnings
-Landscape elements or plants in substitution of
warning sign.
-Playground activities visible from the main
entrance or social activities area.

iii. Hard materials

iv. Soft materials (plants)

-Regular management of the area can reduce the


risk
-Social activities (cooking, wine testing, etc.) close
to the main house
-Security guard may be available at the gate in
large private entrepreneur
-Non slippery, eco friendly hard materials for
surface.
-No poisonous plants, without thorns
-Adjusted to country law regulations for structure
design and materials surface
-Buffer zones for protection
-Views towards the main activities
-Non poisonous plants, without thorns

6. Agricultural aesthetics
1.Enhance agricultural landscape typology -Provide series of views and vistas
-Circulation system hierarchy to create continuation
and obscure ugly spots
-Mix natural and unnatural materials
-Plants as buffer zones
-Soft materials (grasses, trees) in the way that occur
in nature (intermingled, without barriers and with
all the boundaries made by local stone, wood, etc.
2.Uniqueness, use agricultural products for -Native plants or agricultural crops for the design
-Harmonise the development with the surrounding
decoration
landscape
-Create a dynamic and sustainable landscape
3.Periodical development and improvement
-Regular management
of the design
7. Environmental care
i. Exploit the microclimatic conditions for -Use photovoltaic panels and wind generators
-Use of local materials
bioclimatic design and energy providers
-Create roof gardens if it is allowed
-Structures (pergolas) at the seating areas
ii. Provide shade
-Clumps or rows of trees along the paths and
seating areas
iii. Fuel free transportation

-Bike route to reduce fuel consumption


-Horse riding

Case studies
The above design guidelines and design process, were applied to a selected number of
projects which are presented as good-practice experience examples:
1. The case of N.Voutza in Attica. This concept has been created for the farm situated in
N.Voutza, in the province of Attica. The design area is 6,00 ha. The goal of the researches was to
present solutions which can fulfil needs of all visitors hosted at the agritourism farm and increase
the attractiveness of the existing rural landscape. Technical aspects of the terrain were taken into
consideration and the owner of the facility was interviewed in order to meet his expectations. His
suggestions were reflected in the concept. Three zones were created.
1. Production area
2. Representative area

3. Recreational area
For each zone the above guidelines were followed. The basic concept of landscape design was to
create an agritourism area for educational purposes. The most characteristic point of interest was
the hierarchy of open spaces and the intimacy that was created with the help of planting design.
Special consideration was taken for the enhancement of Mediterranean agricultural character.
2. The case of Kalivia in Attica. The main design goal was to develop an area of 60 ha as
a future agritourism farm. The farm is situated in the village Kalivia in the southeast part of the
province of Attica. The site was characterized by the dominance of an old mansion from the 18th
century. Before the design process, an inventory and a valuation of physical and cultural factors
were performed. Furthermore, the soil from the area was tested. All of the owners expectations
were taken into account in the design work. In this concept, many different forms of recreation
were considered: fruit orchard, vineyards, olive groves, garden with herbs and vegetables,
playgrounds, sports fields, swimming pool. Therefore, one of our concerns was to achieve the
coexistence of active recreations activities with the agricultural activities, in order to maintain the
unique agricultural character of the site. The concept of the design was also to ameliorate the
cottages around the mansion, to protect and revile the archaeological sites of the area. The
assumption of the design concept was created in a circular composition, with the centre of the old
garden and property, creating a hierarchy of spaces. Most of the above guidelines were followed.

3. The case of Goumenissa The object of this project was to create a landscape
development concept around the vineyard of Hatzivaritis in Gouminissa. The design space, where
the research was conducted, was 5,3 ha. Studies involved mainly inventory, analysis and
valorisation of landscape, functional scheme and diagnostic survey among the guests of the
facility. The basic idea was to create a welcome area for the visitors which will be able to
accommodate any reception, gatherings and wine testing affairs. Therefore, the concept included
the use of the following elements: ergonomic communication system with parking, a network of
paths and an aromatic garden. The primary criterion in creating the concept was to obtain a feeling
of harmony between the newly created composition and the natural surroundings of the extended
vineyards. As a result, the landscape development would certainly increase the attractiveness of
the facility and the number of tourists.
CONCLUSIONS
1) The importance of landscape design and planning was presented, as well as their
necessity for a successful and sustainable development of agritourism facilities. The results of the
present paper highlight the significant role of landscape planning of rural areas.
2) The planning design process as described might play a decisive role in the attractive
appearance of the agritourism facilities. It might be very useful especially in managed green spaces
which need a special care in order to provide tourists with rest and relaxation in a friendly
surroundings, and the natural environment.
3) This research developed clear and simple guidelines which could guarantee tourists
satisfaction on the design. The above guidelines for landscape design are basic practice, concept,
or recommendation, where landscape architects can use as a guide in designing agro-tourism
activities and elements. These guidelines are aimed to establish sustainable tourism through agrotourism standards that will help upgrading tourism locations and ensure tourists satisfaction.
4) Special attention needs to be paid to the composition of land use areas (zoning) and
with the arrangement of planting and small architecture elements. Within the functional zones, a
variety of attractions needs to be provided for the different age groups and different interests. It is
important to design the various areas, in order to improve the educational, cultural and
environmental character of agritourism sites.

5) If the above guidelines and the design process as described above will be implemented,
as shown in the previous case studies, the attractiveness of the facilities will increase, as well as
the popularity and the income of the agritourism farms.
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