Nov 10, 2021
PREVIEW: 2021 GLEXPO Farm Market Bus Tour

Join Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News for the GLEXPO Farm Market Bus Tour and visit some of West Michigan’s market-savvy farm markets. The tour will be moderated by Michigan State University Extension staff.

Leading this year’s tour is Garrett Ziegler, a Community Food Systems educator with MSU Extension. Ziegler also partners with colleagues to coordinate education sessions focused on farm markets and agritourism during the Great Lakes EXPO. Fruit Growers News caught up with Ziegler to learn more about the 2021 GLEXPO Farm Market Bus Tour.

FGN: What type of operations will the tour visit?

ZG: This year we have a pretty diverse group of farms for the bus tour. We’ve got one farm that specializes in turkey production and they have a small market at their turkey farm. The lunch stop this year is actually a turkey restaurant that sources all of their turkeys directly from the turkey farm that we’re going to be stopping at.

We’ve got a couple of more traditional farm markets – apple orchard, u-pick with cider and donuts and greenhouse type of stuff. We have a lavender farm for the first time this year that has a market where they do a lot of classes and production of some value-added products with the lavender that they’re growing.

We always try to provide opportunities for people to see markets that are large, markets that are small, places that are just getting started or places that have been established for over 100 years. We’ve got a really great group of sites.

Garrett Ziegler speaking at 2019 Farm Market Bus Tour
Garrett Ziegler, MSU Extension

FGN: What are the benefits of attending the GLEXPO Farm Market Bus Tour?

ZG: It’s a great opportunity to see some examples and hear some stories of people that have farm markets that are working to expand their markets or doing innovating things. It’s a great opportunity to meet people on the bus itself. We try really hard to create opportunities for people to share where they’re from, what they do, what type of farm market they have. It really gives you the opportunity to meet others that are doing similar things, to meet other people attending the Great Lakes EXPO, and learn a lot about different farm markets and activities that people are doing.

FGN: What is MSU Extension’s role in the tour?

ZG: We’re responsible for finding stops. We usually go out in the spring, do a drive around to a bunch of potential stops, help narrow that list down and pick the schedule for that bus tour.

We really work to get that schedule set and on the day of we are on the buses and play the role of host. We work to make sure that everybody that’s on each bus gets to introduce themselves. We also help gather some feedback from attendees after each stop just to hear from the people on the bus tour because they have a lot of knowledge as well as far as what makes a successful farm market.

To learn more about the GLEXPO Farm Market Bus Tour or to register, visit Early bird registration ends Nov. 15.

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