Cultivating Community in Michigan: The 2024 Agritourism Summit

Are you a Michigan farmer looking to diversify your income stream? Or maybe you’re a municipal official aiming to boost local economic development while preserving rural charm. If so, mark your calendars for May 8, 2024, as the Hagerty Center in Traverse City hosts a groundbreaking event tailored just for you – the Agritourism Summit.

Why Agritourism in Michigan?

What exactly is agritourism? It’s not just about farm visits; it’s an immersive experience that celebrates the essence of rural life while providing entertainment, education, and economic opportunities. From tastings at cideries and creameries to U-pick pumpkin patches, agritourism encompasses an array of activities that promote healthy living, family bonding, and economic growth.

For us, there are years where we wouldn’t have made it if we hadn’t diversified. Agritourism has balanced out our bottom line – it’s actually the most predictable part of the business.

Sara McGuire, Royal Farms

According to the 2022 Agriculture Census, 836 Michigan farms reported agritourism activities, reflecting an 11% growth rate from the previous census in 2017. Additionally, income from agritourism contributed $56,567,000 to Michigan’s farm economy in 2022, marking a significant 170% increase from 2017. These numbers underscore the substantial growth and economic impact of agritourism in the state.¹

“Michigan is one of the most agriculturally diverse states in the country, but farming is becoming more difficult for a variety of reasons. Agritourism gives farmers another route to stay prosperous and viable in a more economically challenging environment,” notes Kate Edwards, Office Manager at MSU Extension Grand Traverse County.

Learn and Network at the Agritourism Summit in Michigan

The summit aims to foster dialogue among farmers, municipal officials, and community leaders while addressing challenges and exploring opportunities for sustainable agritourism growth in Michigan. From insightful keynote sessions to practical workshops, the summit agenda is packed with valuable experiences. Participants will delve into topics such as the economics of farming, the role of regulatory frameworks like the Michigan Right to Farm Act, and effective planning and zoning strategies for agritourism.

Moreover, the summit isn’t just about discussions; it’s about action. Attendees will gain access to resources, peer-to-peer learning opportunities, and practical tools to overcome barriers and navigate the agritourism landscape successfully.

But the learning doesn’t stop there. Before the main event, participants can join a pre-summit Farm Tour on May 7th, exploring agritourism operations in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. From cheese tasting at award-winning dairies to cider production facility visits, the tour promises a firsthand glimpse into the diverse world of agritourism. The culmination of the tour is the Welcome Soirée at Farm Club, where attendees can network over appetizers and drinks, setting the stage for fruitful collaborations during the summit. While the tour is currently sold out, the soirée is still open for registration!

Summit Speakers & Sites

Register Now for the Agritourism Summit in Michigan

Whether you’re a seasoned farmer, policymaker, or a passionate advocate for rural development, the 2024 Agritourism Summit offers a unique opportunity to shape the future of Michigan’s agritourism industry. Register now and join this transformative journey towards a more prosperous rural Michigan.

Early registration ends April 15th, so don’t miss out on this chance to cultivate connections and catalyze change in Michigan’s agritourism landscape. For a complete summit agenda and registration details, visit www.miagritourism.com. You can receive updates about the Summit by liking the Agritourism Summit Facebook Page or following @agritourism_summit on Instagram.

¹United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. “Table 7. Income from Farm-Related Sources: 2022 and 2017.” 2022 Census of Agriculture. Accessed April 4, 2024, https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2022/index.php.

Emily Row is the Brand and Media Manager at Taste the Local Difference. You may contact her via email [email protected]

This article was written in partnership with Michigan State University Extension. Photos provided by MSU Extension and Taste the Local Difference.