By: Billy Craig for Advancing Macomb
Food plays a bigger and bigger role in our lives. It’s delicious at your table and it’s a delicious part of a growing sector in our economy. Melissa Anders talked about the established and growing food businesses in her last article with Advancing Macomb. This week we are taking a peek at Agritourism in Macomb County.
Agritourism generally defined involves activities that bring visitors to a farm or ranch. Examples common to Macomb County are farm stands, corn mazes, picking fruit and feeding animals. Agritourism has been popular in Italy where visitors stay overnight on a farm and in France where visitors are drawn to a particular niche industry – namely, wine. Locally, new niche markets are massively expanding Macomb’s agritourism footprint: orchards have grown in popularity as have tasting rooms, dairy farms and sheep farms. Macomb offers healthy, nutritious produce and food items and a myriad of activities to experience the food. As one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry, it offers great exposure to working farms, wineries and the agriculture industry.
“Promoting Agritourism in Macomb County seems like such a natural fit, particularly here in Northern Macomb. Not only can farm and agriculturally based activities serve as an economic driver for what I call “agripreneurs” (small to midscale farm based businesses), but it also serves to promote areas of the county as unique and fun places to visit and support. “ Susan Schmitt Park Manager Wolcott Mill Metropark.
Outdoor adventuring that includes entertainment, education, shopping and dining to add to this fun experience. Macomb County is well represented with intriguing destinations. This is the crossroads of tourism and agriculture. Families, couples, and groups can take advantage by participating in activities together — shopping in the country store, picking apples and peaches, blueberries and strawberries.
It’s a fun day that gives consumers a taste of farm production and agriculture’s rich history out where the air is fresh as the apples and cider. We can now plan an AgriTour in Macomb – making a day trip around the county in our own version of the land of milk and honey.
Here’s a start!
Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center
It’s a 250-acre working farm featuring a wide variety of other animals, miniature and draft horses, sheep and goats and farm fowl. You can also visit the greenhouse and gardens and take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the crop fields when available.
Macomb County’s oldest family farm is the result of six generations of family dedication. It’s 188 acres of fruit trees and crops including strawberries, apples, peaches, cherries, pears, nectarines, sweet corn, raspberries and fall vegetables. The farm also features a modern cider mill, bakery and an ice cream and sweet shop.
Verellen Orchard’s & Cider
In business at the same location for 95 years they specialize in high quality products and friendly customer service. Open all year with “fruit in season” from strawberries, cherries, plums and sun-ripened peaches to grapes, pears and a full fall harvest of all your favorite apple varieties. Cider slush, Cameo, Braeburn, and Ida Red apples, eggs, honey, maple syrup, potatoes, donuts, pies, coffee cakes, cookies, onions, frozen fruit, preserves, jelly, popcorn, fresh breads, pickled beets, maple syrup, candy, and much more!
Sheepy Hollow Farm
You can have a wooly time with the goats visiting the farm shop and soap making. Located off-the-beaten-path in rural Armada Township in northern Macomb County you can take time with Kentucky Rocky Mountain Saddle horses and Oberhasli dairy goats, my small flock of Shetland sheep, a few laying hens for fresh eggs, dogs, cats and pet Lion-head rabbits. It’s the home of wooly Tyme Shetlands and Kids Play Dairy Goats even offering farm classes.
Crooked Creek Dairy
Greg and Dory decided they did like store bought milk so they decided to they began to pasteurize their own milk in a two-gallon processor. It’s all about the flavor so in 1981 they put in their own processing plant. They found the flavor did not change and it lasted 17 to 18 days without preservatives. They like the old-fashioned process and their grandchildren and customers rave about the quality
This historic farm started in 1946 and its was one of the very first “Pick Your Own” orchards in Michigan. Blakes have expanded their operation to three separate locations with over 500 acres of orchard and farmland consisting of pick-your-own apples, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, pumpkins, assorted vegetables and U-cut Christmas trees. Famous for their award winning apple cider it’s an entertainment farm featuring train rides, pony rides, hayrides, cornfield mazes, several animated attractions and many other family oriented activities. Check their schedule they have a lot of activities year round.
Hy’s Cider Mill
With a scenic overlook, Hy’s with its scenic overlook is a great way to spend a day picking apples and drinking fresh cider from the working mill. It offers an incredible variety of apples and you can pick your date for harvest.
Millers Big Red Greenhouses and Cider Mill
It’s acres and acres of orchard, farm and fields of sweet fruit, fresh vegetables and tasty herbs. A marketplace of farm fresh produce, made-from-scratch baked goods, gourmet condiments and other exceptional local products. Experience the aroma, sights and sounds of cider making and the taste of homemade donuts and caramel apples. Have a picnic, visit the petting farm, take a hayride, get lost in a corn maze, climb a straw mountain and even pick your own fruit. Add weekends for an evening bonfire, visit the pit smokehouse with pulled pork sandwiches and delicious cider marinated chicken, cooked over apple wood. You can even schedule an educational tour, take a class or attend special events peppered throughout the year. There is a lot to experience at Millers!
Let’s not forget Macomb County Farmers Markets Mt. Clemens Farmers Market, Shelby Township Farmers Market, Warren Farmers Market, and New Baltimore and Eastpointe Farmers Market.