Governor Gretchen Whitmer has proclaimed October as Michigan Agritourism Month. The month-long celebration recognizes the economic and social benefits of agritourism to our state’s farms and communities. 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 provide fun and unique farm experiences.
“Agritourism is a great opportunity to enjoy all that Pure Michigan has to offer, and as we head into fall in our state, I want to encourage everyone who takes part in things like corn mazes and wagon rides to do so safely,” said Governor Whitmer. “When you combine agriculture and tourism, you not only get fresh apples, pumpkins and baked goods, but you also get the experiences and lifelong memories that goes along with them. Fall is the perfect time of year to celebrate this month in Michigan. Please remember to always be safe and help protect yourself and others from COVID-19 by wearing a mask and maintaining six feet of distance.”
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 include farmers markets, on-farm markets, 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 people traditionally visit farms, pumpkin patches and cider mills.
“Agritourism opportunities are available in every county in our state,” said Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell. “Our operators are implementing key safety measures to assure the well-being of their customers. We also need visitors to help the agriculture community by following on-farm safety protocols, wearing masks, social distancing whenever possible, washing their hands often, and staying home if they are not feeling well.”
Some of the added precautions agritourism operations have implemented for this season include:
- Developing and implementing a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and training employees on requirements under the plan.
- Screening staff daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and not allowing ill employees to work.
- Prohibiting gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
- Limiting in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible and prohibiting any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
- Requiring employees to use personal protective equipment (gloves, goggles, face shields, face coverings, etc.) as appropriate for the activity being performed.
- Ensuring frequent and thorough cleaning and disinfection of tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces.
- Taking steps to maintain social distancing (a minimum of six feet) of guests in sale and retail areas and outdoor operations.
- Providing signs or other materials for customers to inform them of changes to store and farm practices and explain the precautions the store is taking to prevent infection.
- Enhancing sanitization of all operational areas, including sanitizing items customers touch after every use.
- Encouraging family units to stay together and six feet apart from others. Customers should only be accompanied with family members and should limit the numbers in their groups.