Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed October as Michigan Agritourism Month. As a part of the month-long celebration and to recognize the economic and social benefits of agritourism to our state’s farms and communities, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell was joined today by Dave Lorenz, vice president, Travel Michigan, and Janice Benson, executive director, Michigan Agritourism, for a tour of three agritourism businesses.
“When you combine agriculture and tourism, something magic happens,” said McDowell. “You not only get fresh apples, pumpkins and baked goods, but you also get the experience that goes along with them – things like corn mazes and wagon rides, watching cider being pressed, petting baby animals, and launching pumpkins from a giant catapult.”
Agritourism is a niche form of tourism and defines the places where agriculture and tourism connect, including any time a farming operation opens its doors to the public and invites visitors to enjoy their products and services. Agriculture and tourism are leading economic drivers in Michigan, and agritourism provides ways for farmers to diversify their operations by offering value-added products and activities to protect their businesses against challenging weather conditions and market fluctuations.
Examples of agritourism include farmers markets, on-farm markets, school farm tours, wineries, roadside produce stands, on-farm weddings and events, corn mazes and much more. Agritourism is a year-round business for many farms in Michigan, but Agritourism Month is celebrated in October at the peak of harvest and during a time when families and school groups traditionally visit farms, pumpkin patches and cider mills.
Agritourism helps connect people to their agricultural roots and provides a gathering place for families. By bringing people to the farms and farmers markets, the economic benefits spread into surrounding communities when visitors also stop at local gas stations or restaurants, or even another agritourism business down the road.
“Agritourism opportunities are available in every county in our state, and Michigan Agritourism Month is a special time to acknowledge and experience the vast, integrated network of family farmers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers who produce a safe and nutritious food supply, as well as so many fun and unique farm experiences,” said McDowell.
Today’s tour included stops at the Flint Farmers Market in Flint; Mueller’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Linden; and Peacock Road Family Farm in Laingsburg.
Visit www.MichiganFarmFun.com for a directory of Michigan agritourism businesses. The directory is searchable by business name, product, and region.