You know what time it is? That’s right…it’s farm market time!
A Michigan summer just isn’t complete without a visit (or two or three) to a local farm market, u-pick orchard or dairy destination.
Thanks to help from Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan and the Michigan Apple Committee, planning a day of tasty fun is as easy as turning a page. The Michigan Agritourism Association (MATA) has released its 13th annual edition of the Discover Michigan Farm Fun directory, a popular guide for finding fun activities on Michigan farms.
Featuring an easy-to-use listing of farm markets, u-pick orchards, educational farms, and other agritourism destinations, the directory takes the guesswork out of your planning and features advice for every region and season.
“The Agritourism guide promotes hundreds of farm destinations across Michigan where visitors can enjoy our state’s bountiful harvest,” said Farm Bureau Insurance CEO Don Simon. “While we understand things will look a little different for farmers’ markets, orchards, cider mills, and popular agritourism spots due to COVID-19, 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 due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, farmers are coming up with creative ways to serve their customers, while following social distancing guidelines, such as offering curbside or drive thru pick-up, 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, is one of the 236 agritourism destinations in the directory. Owned and operated by Pat and Sara McGuire, the market’s 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 said. “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 the market for customers,” Sara added. “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.”
And, in case you were wondering, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced last month that u-pick operations are able to operate and have 20 key protocols to implement with safety in mind.
“We appreciate MDARD providing clear recommendations for u-pick operations,” MATA’s executive director Janice Benson said. “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.”
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. 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 micro-climate.
Copies of the new directory be found at MichiganFarmFun.com or picked up at local Farm Bureau Insurance offices, Michigan Welcome Centers, and many tourist offices across Michigan.