The niche market of Agritourism has been steadily gaining momentum, as folks around the world are becoming more interested in where, and how, the food they are eating is being grown and harvested. The owner of the family farm shown in this photo ( BernreuterFarm@hotmail.com ) took me, and several other tourists, on a drive around the Saginaw Valley of Michigan, so we could see the various types of agricultural operations that region engages in.
Most of the farms our guide drove us through were small, family-run operations, such as the one above.
Many of the small farmers participate in co-ops, where they can share the use of certain pieces of machinery needed to make their operation a success.
Since we were not far from the "birthplace" of the now-famous "Kellogg's Corn Flakes" (see blog I posted on August 25, 2012 for more details on that topic), it is not surprising that we saw many acres of corn that was "as high as an elephant's eye", and it looked like it stretched clear into the sky!! Oh, what a beautiful morning it was!
Although we saw several of the "old-fashioned" wooden barns on our tour, we also saw a few newer ones, such as the colorful red metal structures shown in this photo.
Another crop grown in the area is cucumbers, which had mostly been harvested, to be eventually turned into pickles. Our guide told us that the cucumbers seen still laying in the field, and pitched off to one side, were those that were unsuitable for pickle requirements.
This piece of equipment was plowing the field that just days earlier had been full of cucumbers. The ground had to be prepared for the next crop.
When our bus pulled into the space shown in this photo, I had no idea what those strange-looking, silver structures were, lined up across the horizon.
We found out they were storage silos for sugar beets. This location just outside Frankenmuth, Michigan (hence the German "Willkommen" on their sign) is one of just a few places in the USA, that is part of the supply line for sugar that is made from beets. Most of the sweeteners used in food processing today are made from corn, and used in the form of high fructose corn sirup.
When we were back in the "city" we were able to see this very large grain storage, receiving, and distribution operation, that helps get the farm product to the consumer.
Our guide told us that the company we were seeing called "Star of the West Milling Company" was a major supplier of flour for MacDonald's hamburger buns, plus local restaurants, as well.
In fact, when we ate at a local Frankenmuth Restaurant---the very popular Bavarian Inn, the management acknowledged all that was involved in bringing food to their guests, by having this small poster on every table, that was a prayer of thanksgiving to God, both before the meal and after the meal.
I was reminded of these images from my agriculture tour, when I was trying to visualize a mnemonic device to help me learn one of my First Place 4 Health (www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verses. It says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 . I am thankful that the farmers in Michigan who plowed the fields, planted the seed, watered the seed, and weeded the fields, did not grow weary of the good work they were doing; instead, they stuck with it until the end, so that they could reap a harvest, because they did not give up! If you would like to learn more about visiting this lovely section of Michigan, you can click on www.visitsaginawvalley.com or www.visitgreatlakesbay.org. Plus, there may be a farmer near where you live, that you can encourage to not grow weary in doing good! It will give you (and the farmer!) MILES OF SMILES! Tricia