Sebastopol (USA) - Home stay. Farm stay workshop in Sebastopol


[Sebastopol] West County residents interested in opening a home stay or farm stay business can attend a half-day workshop sponsored by Cittaslow Sebastopol to learn about the basic financial, personal and regulatory requirements involved in renting a room or out-building to short-stay travelers.

Funded by the City of Sebastopol and co-sponsored by Farm Trails and the Sebastopol Entrepreneurs' Project, the workshop will take place at the Sebastopol Community Church on Saturday, March 1 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The fee is $20. There is space for 40 participants. Pre-registration is required and can be completed online at SebastopolHomeStay.org.

According to Sonoma County Tourism, in 2011 visitor spending amounted to $1.47 billion in our county, providing $94.8 million in tax revenues and accounting for 17,000 jobs.

"We have been looking at ways for Sebastopol to develop a sustainable tourism sector that also reflects our town's unique flare" notes Cittaslow Sebastopol Co-Chair, Tasha Beauchamp. "A key tenet of eco-tourism involves creating opportunities for locals and visitors to have a meaningful, personal interaction. Helping residents to grow a small, home-based business seems like a perfect way to support that more personal exchange, while also promoting green hospitality."

Sebastopol Mayor, Robert Jacob, is enthusiastic about the workshop. "There is a myth floating around that Sebastopol is not supportive of business. That simply isn't true. We do a lot to support and encourage entrepreneurs who understand our concern for the environment and respect the character of our town. This workshop is a great example of that."

Council Member Sarah Gurney agrees and adds, "What a fun way to provide extra sources of revenue for our residents and unique lodging experiences for visitors."

According to Planning Director Kenyon Webster, in the city of Sebastopol there are specific requirements for home stay businesses. For instance, up to 2 rooms within the house may be rented to short-stay travelers, but a separate granny unit cannot.

The County has its own set of rules and has recently revised them to be more supportive of home stay and farm stay businesses. A farm stay business is like a home stay, but may include renting an out-building instead of a room in a house. It frequently also involves a tour of the farm with activities such as collecting eggs, milking a goat, etc.

For example, Full House Farm on Sexton Rd. offers overnight stays and a 2-hour farm life tour of their small, organic family farm. Visitors interested in a more intimate experience with the animals can arrange to help with chores. They can even participate in a "Harmony with Horses" workshop delivered by farm owner and equestrian coach, Christine Cole.

Farm Trails' Executive Director, Carmen Snyder says "We are delighted to be co-sponsoring this workshop. Farm stays are a growing part of the agritourism movement and are an excellent way for farmers to diversify their revenue stream."

"It's not for everyone to have strangers traipse through their house," laughs Christine Cole. "But if you like people and learn to be clear about your boundaries, you can earn money and have fun. I find it very gratifying to share the joy of sustainable, rural living. People are hungry to understand more about farms and animals and the earth and how we are all interconnected."

The intent of the March 1 workshop is to give would-be hosts an overview of the regulatory issues and financial realities. Agriculture Ombudsman, Karen Giovannini, and Penny Leff, agritourism expert from UC Extension, will discuss farm stay considerations for those living in the county. Urban dwellers will learn about city health and business codes. Other presenters include Bill Judson of Sonoma County Tourism who will describe local marketing resources available for hospitality businesses, and Greg Marguglio from Brandt Insurance who will talk about ways to protect yourself against the many risks involved in hosting short-term lodgers.

Following the workshop, there will be an Expo of local vendors and support services, offering attendees the ability to ask questions and learn more about resources available to assist them in growing their new business.

Says Ludwig Furtner, Chairman of the Sebastopol Entrepreneurs' Project, "We are co-sponsoring this event because we are all about incubating new businesses. It's our hope that these new entrepreneurs will avail themselves of our coaching services and business seminars so they can launch as smoothly as possible and avoid the common pitfalls of those first few months and years."

For more information about the Home Stay / Farm Stay Workshop, go to SebastopolHomeStay.org, or email tourism@cittaslowsebastopol.org.

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Facts in Brief

What: Workshop on Starting a Home Stay / Farm Stay business
Who: West County residents interested in opening a home stay or farm stay business
When: Saturday March 1, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Cost: $20, register online at www.SebastopolHomeStay.org
Where: Sebastopol Community Church (must pre-register, no drop ins)

Sponsored by Cittaslow Sebastopol

Contact information:
Tasha Beauchamp, Cittaslow Sebastopol: tasha@cittaslowsebastopol.org, (707) 477-0700
Mayor Robert Jacob: robertjacobcc@sonic.net
Council Member Sarah Gurney: sarahcouncil@yahoo.com
Planning Director Kenyon Webster: kwebster@cityofsebastopol.org, (707) 823-6167
Christine Cole, Full House Farm: Christine@fullhousefarm.com, (707) 829-1561
Carmen Snyder, Farm Trails: carmen@farmtrails.org, (707) 837-8896
Ludwig Furtner, Sebastopol Entrepreneurs' Project: ludwig@sepyes.com, (707) 861-3390

Sonoma County Tourism:http://www.sonomacounty.com/articles/media/statistics

Background on Cittaslow Sebastopol:
Cittaslow Sebastopol is a volunteer organization that serves as an ad hoc committee of the city, bringing together individuals, non-profits, businesses and government agencies to work on programs or events that preserve Sebastopol's unique character. The mission of the organization is to keep Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic. "Cittaslow" means Slow City in Italian. In 2010, Sebastopol applied to the international network of Slow Cities in Italy (cittaslow.org) and was honored with the Slow City designation, joining close to 200 small cities across 26 countries who work in their municipalities to:

Support local products and agriculture

Celebrate local culture and history

Welcome visitors and embrace neighbors

Integrate technology for improved well-being

Protect the health of the environment

Develop community-friendly infrastructure