Blue Tin Ranch grows agritourism business on an old family farm – Agweek

 Blue Tin Ranch grows agritourism business on an old family farm – Agweek

How can a farm family be able to stay on the farm without the next generation interested in farming? Or, in a different situation, how can a farm add revenue to another business or revenue stream to an existing farm or ranch? With a strong business plan, diligence and enthusiasm, agritourism can be an option to stay on a farm and generate more income, all while giving others an agricultural connection.


A 1909 barn was cleaned and the haymow was taken to become an event space at Jorgensen farm to support their agritourism business, the Blue Tin Ranch.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

Noreen Jorgensen and her daughter Kelley own and operate Blue Tin Ranch on their family farm in Burbank, South Dakota, along the Missouri River between Elk Point and Vermillion. The additional revenue from Blue Tin Ranch is “significant to help pay for the family health plan, property taxes and supplies,” Noreen said. I met Noreen while presenting an AgritourismSD class at South Dakota State University when they visited Fargo, North Dakota.


A new facility for the old corn crib at Jorgensen farm now has six swings and a fire pit for visitors visiting the Blue Tin Ranch near Burbank, South Dakota.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

The farming roots of the Jorgensen family go back to before South Dakota was a state. The family’s ancestors emigrated from Denmark in the 1880s and began farming in the Yankton area in the 1910s. They lost most of what they had built up in the Depression, according to Noreen.

“But they persevered and rebuilt, until 1950, the Army Corp of Engineers decided to build the Gavin Point Dam right on Jorgensen land,” he said. “The government bought the farm, and the proceeds were used to purchase 640 acres of land in Union County, South Dakota.


A restored chicken coop now serves as a “glamping” spot for travelers to stay at the Blue Tin Ranch, giving new purpose and life to an old family farm.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

The farm is now rented but the farm has only recently experienced a “new life” in the last two years, with an idea that has evolved and grown over the years, Noreen shared with me. The Jorgensens built a basketball court and an indoor swimming pool area so their middle- and high school-aged kids have a place to hang out with friends. Friends suggested they rent it out for parties and events, but Noreen felt she was too busy then raising kids to do a project.


Pictured are mother and daughter duo Noreen and Kelley Jorgensen, who have taken a long -standing idea for the family farm and turned it into an agritourism business, starting in 2019.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

Daughter Kelley, an SDSU graduate with a degree in international affairs, brought the idea back in 2019 to Noreen, and the mother-daughter duo thrived. With a loan from a regional bank, Blue Tin Ranch started, first by converting existing farm facilities.

“Blue Tin Ranch is the obvious choice for the name because every building has a blue tin roof,” Noreen explains.

They converted the indoor swimming pool into a two-bedroom guest house/hunting lodge, turned the basketball court into a pavilion by adding a roof. They cleaned up the 1909 barn and removed a portion of the haymow, “to showcase the beautiful turn of the century architecture,” Noreen said. The machine shed can hold large gatherings, and a loft above it will serve as a residence for hunters to hang out.

Noreen shares five challenges that Blue Tin Ranch must overcome:

  1. “Inviting the public to your land is inherent in all sorts of risks. The kids in the field knew how to climb the barbed wire fence but the kids from the city were shocked when the fence resisted! ”
  2. “Children growing up on a farm or ranch are aware of the dangers of tractors and large equipment, livestock and wildlife. Keeping the visitor safe from injury is a big part of day-to-day operations. ”
  3. “Finding an insurance company that can write a policy tailored to an agritourism business is not easy.”
  4. “Going to talk to the banker who only writes off agricultural loans and asking them to help fund a flower farm or a pumpkin patch is also a challenge.”
  5. “A big obstacle for Blue Tin Ranch is the county government and zoning issues. They have difficulty making the connection between land and agritourism.

But he said the negatives don’t compare to “the positive reactions on children’s faces as they gather from the car and run for the first time in an open field, caring for a calf and riding a horse. . “
AgritourismSD coordinator Stacy Hadrick said the class was started to help people use agricultural resources in different ways.

“Noreen is a perfect example of taking the facilities they have on the farm and using them to run a new business that interests the next generation,” Hadrick said.


What was once a machine shed now serves as the Blue Tin Ranch’s reception hall that hosts visitors throughout the year, from evenings to events, involving agricultural and agriturism experiences.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

Through the AgritourismSD class, Noreen has learned that young travelers are more interested in spending time and money on experiences.

“On the farm they can collect chicken eggs, see how the cows are milking now, learn about the different crops that are grown or just enjoy the wide spaces,” he said.

Agriturism can include farm stays, you pick flowers and vegetables, festivals and events. Noreen said the Blue Tin Ranch is considered a farm stay, with its guest house and a repaired chicken coop as a “glamping spot.” A grain bin will soon be completed as another visitor area.

But Blue Tin Ranch also hosts events. Kelley is organizing a summer series called “Sunsets, Stargazing, S’mores and More!” She had a watercolor painting class, a field tour depicting a variety of plants, flowers and grasses, and an evening of stargazing. Noreen will give a talk about the agritourism class she took.

In the fall, the farm was transformed from Blue Tin Ranch to “BOO” Tin Ranch with a pumpkin patch, hayride and a barrel train. Throughout the year they host graduation parties, reunions, weddings and visitors to stop by Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone National Park.


Inside a renovated chicken coop, comfortable guest space is created for those staying at the Blue Tin Ranch.

Contributed / Blue Tin Ranch

Blue Tin Ranch sees visitors from Iowa or Nebraska – both 15 miles away – as well as Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas or Missouri. Visitors use an online booking platform. Many of their 2021 hunting guests have already booked a 2022 stay.

Noreen and Kelley both work in their local school district during the winter months. Blue Tin Ranch is now their full-time role from spring to fall, giving new purpose to a historic family farm and revitalizing old farm buildings while balancing the costs of we got it.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. Contact him at [email protected], or connect with him on Twitter @katpinke.

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