A popular guide to finding fun activities on Michigan farms recently was released, offering farm markets, U-pick orchards, educational farms and other agritourism destinations — along with suggestions for food and fun in every region and season.
The 13th annual edition of Discover Michigan Farm Fun is produced with the assistance of Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan, the Michigan Apple Committee and the Michigan Agritourism Association (MATA).
“The agritourism guide promotes hundreds of farm destinations across Michigan where visitors can enjoy our state’s bountiful harvest,” Farm Bureau Insurance CEO Don Simon says. “While we understand that this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things will look a little different for farmers markets, orchards, cider mills and all popular agritourism spots, we’re excited to get this directory into the hands of Michiganders and to promote Michigan’s farms.”
Although some farm events and activities have been canceled or delayed because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, farmers are coming up with creative ways to serve their customers, while following social distancing guidelines — such as offering curbside or drive-thru pickup, virtual educational farm visits, and take-and-make items such as home gardening kits.
Royal Farms Farm Market and Winery, located north of Traverse City in Antrim County, is one of the 236 agritourism destinations in the directory. Owned and operated by Pat and Sara McGuire, the market has been in business since 2001.
“We’re grateful to be a part of the agritourism directory to help people find us, and we’re ready and excited to be a part of reopening our economy,” Sara McGuire says. “We’ve kept a close eye on all information being released about recommendations and regulations for opening our market and wine and cider tasting room.
“It’s important our employees and customers feel safe and comfortable at Royal Farms. We have extra hand-sanitizing stations throughout, including for customers. We’re regularly sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, wearing face masks, and working to maintain social distancing. And we have lots of outdoor space for our customers to enjoy our wine and hard ciders on tap."
Another segment of agritourism included in the directory are the U-pick operations. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced May 20 key protocols that U-pick operations should be implementing to protect themselves and their customers. MATA’s executive director, Janice Benson, is pleased U-picks have been green-lighted to open.
“We appreciate MDARD providing clear recommendations for U-pick operations,” Benson says. “During this challenging time, with COVID-19 affecting so much of our lives, it’s important to know that local Michigan farmers are open and ready for your business.
“Every day, farmers adapt to new challenges, and they are working hard to keep their customers safe, as they continue to offer fresh, locally grown food and family-friendly activities at their farms.”
Michigan agriculture notably produces more than 300 commodities, including asparagus, apples, blueberries, dairy products — such as cheese and ice cream — tart cherries, dry beans, floriculture products, and cucumbers for pickles, to name just a few.
The Discover Michigan Farm Fun directory helps connect those craving a firsthand experience with this exciting and historical Michigan industry. The multitude of activities, events and options are uniquely arranged into seven Michigan regions, each highlighting farm produce and events based on each region’s unique soils and microclimate.
Copies of the new directory can be picked up at local Farm Bureau Insurance offices and at Michigan welcome centers, as well as many tourist offices across Michigan. The directory can be downloaded at michiganfarmfun.com. For more information, call Cale Sauter at 517-391-5001.