The goal of my research was to explore the ways in which Texas agritourism operators value their land and construct their relationships with the natural environment. By examining data gained primarily through a survey and interviews, and by utilizing Urry’s categorization of ideal types of societal relationships with nature, I outlined numerous ways in which my research participants illustrate each of the four ideal types: stewardship, exploitation, scientization, and visual consumption. In addition, I encountered strong relationships with nature that were not compatible with Urry’s categories; therefore, I proposed the addition of two ideal types—spiritualization: care and reverence for nature resulting from beliefs in its divine origin or composition, and sociality: utilizing nature as a means for creating social community.
My research participants evinced very different understandings regarding the concept of environmental sustainability. Similarly, they each demonstrated a desire to use their natural resources wisely and appropriately, but the perceived methods for accomplishing this also differed. Open dialogue amongst the farmers, ranchers, and other persons in a particular local area could facilitate empathy and tolerance between individuals of diverse motivations and assist in building community. This community development combined together with agritourism, which allows for economic development while continuing agricultural heritages, could transform fading rural areas into economically-vibrant, environmentally-conscious, and socially-cohesive communities.