Camping, it’s as American as apple pie. Alyssa Ravasio, an entrepreneur and outdoor enthusiast, kept hearing that time and time again, but quality campgrounds were becoming increasingly difficult to find. In 2013 she decided to start an online marketplace, called Hipcamp, which could easily direct people to public camping grounds. The company expanded in 2015 to include campsites offered by private landowners, who are most often farmers and ranchers.
Hipcamp now serves as a leading nationwide company in agrotourism, connecting producers to consumers and bridging the longstanding gap – embracing Hipcamp’s motto: “share your land, pay it forward.”
“We are bringing the table to the farm,” Ravasio said.
Jennifer Knoetgen owns and manages the Rusty Nail Farm in Arlee, Mont., north of Missoula. The small homestead is home to a variety of animals that Knoetgen raises for her own personal meat, as well as for use in a Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA) she started in 2017. Individuals pay a subscription to the CSA and then once a month, they have the opportunity to pick up a box of locally sourced meat.
Knoetgen became a Hipcamp host in 2018 to bring extra income to her farm, which was voted “Best of Montana 2018” by campers. Knoetgen has gotten to share her agriculture story and share in the adventures of the travelers she hosts.
“Whenever we’ve had visitors to the farm, they really love making the connection with agriculture,” Knoetgen stated.
In a time when the larger demographic has lost touch with its agrarian roots, Hipcamp strives to serve as an educational portal, offering a way for campers to learn about agricultural practices and food production while allowing them to participate in land stewardship first hand.
Knoetgen finds that for the most part, people come to her property curious and she is more than happy to answer questions about her lifestyle.
“I always want to greet the guest when they arrive. We get to share a life that not many people get to experience,” she explained.
Agrotourism is a growing industry and Hipcamp is on hand to act as a facilitator by helping landowners market and promote their experience. By becoming a Hipcamp member, landowners remain completely in charge of their own host calendar and they get to keep 90 percent of what they charge for campsite rental. Hipcamp has a team on staff at all times to answer any question that may arise, and the company even provides top notch liability insurance for their hosts.
“We are really a platform and partner to the landowner,” Ravasio explained.
Signing up to become a Hipcamp host is as simple as visiting hipcamp.com and clicking the “start hosting” tab.