Sustaining production and strengthening the agritourism product: linkages among Michigan agritourism destinations
Che, D & Veeck, G 2005, 'Sustaining production and strengthening the agritourism product: linkages among Michigan agritourism destinations', Agriculture and Human Values, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 225-234.
Agricultural restructuring has disproportionately impacted smaller US farms, such as those in Michigan where the average farm size is 215 acres. To keep agricultural land in production, entrepreneurial Michigan farmers are utilizing agritourism as a value-added way to capitalize on their comparative advantages, their diverse agricultural products, and their locations near large, urban, tourist-generating areas. Using focus groups, this paper illustrates how entrepreneurial farmers have strengthened Michigan agritourism by fostering producer networks through brochures and web linkages, information sharing in refining the agritourism product, referrals to other agritourism businesses that serve different markets or offer different products, purchase linkages, and a regional approach to establishing agritourism destinations and increase visitation. Successful entrepreneurial, agritourism developers thus work cooperatively, rather than individualistically and competitively. Agritourism destinations facing stiff competition from alternative venues for leisure time and food purchases benefit from supportive linkages that help sustain a critical mass of producers who offer diverse goods, maintain land in agriculture, and thus, reinforce Michigan’s image for agritourism.