Rural Heritage Tour
Running an inclusive tour with rural communities
Before Starting: Some Guiding Tips
Rooting in rural heritage
Starting the program design with isolating rural knowledge, talents, and resources places rural communities at the center of the programming. By establishing a high level of respect for rural knowledge and know-how, programs become more locally-relevant and contextual. This not only helps communities feel more open and willing to share information, but also helps foster a strong sense of pride through valorization of their knowledge. In addition, this may reduce certain community members' propensity for "selling" and "exaggerating" their heritage. By emphasizing the great value of their traditions, we have witnessed farmers more willing to speak honestly about their traditions and lives – which acts as a mechanism for preserving and protecting rural knowledge.
By beginning program design with dialogue and collaborative cooking and farming activities, teams can build strong, trusting relationships with rural communities. Establishing trusting and respectful environments between the tour guides, community members, and customers can diffuse barriers, prejudices, and skepticism from both sides. This has allowed knowledge to be more readily shared openly, learning to be more mutual, and agreements to be created more collaboratively.
Sensitivity to women
Rural women in particular may be hesitant or unwilling to speak or engage with outsiders. It can be important to establish safe spaces with mutually-agreed upon values and respect, where women can feel comfortable and gain confidence in their work. This may involve speaking with male family members to explain the company's purpose and ask if and how some women may be able to participate in events.
Skills of facilitation and listening can be very useful for the successful implementation of inclusive agro-tourism programs. Because programs often bring together people from different backgrounds, languages, and perspectives, having skilled facilitators that can act as the go-between proves very valuable. The best facilitators interact with both the community and the customers, and thus understands the diverse perspectives and backgrounds all participants. This can help manage expectations of both community members and customers, diffuse barriers, and reduce miscommunication errors that could otherwise be hyper-inflated and cause unnecessary problems.
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Sample lesson plan
Lessons rooted in rural knowledge and skills