The Lake Michigan shoreline has a rich agricultural and tourism history and the destinations of the Lakeshore Harvest Country are reaping the rewards of the growing interest in agri-tourism activities. Situated along a 30-mile stretch in Michigan’s “Fruit Belt” region, the orchards, vineyards and farms in this area take full advantage of the “lake effect” climate that Lake Michigan offers.
Starting in the spring, when the sap flows in the maple trees and the morels, asparagus and other wild edibles begin to make their appearance…to the summer, ripe with berries of all kinds (strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries), pitted fruits like peaches, plums and apricots and succulent veggies (corn, potatoes and anything you could want for a crisp salad, including lovely goats milk cheeses, hearty breads and homemade jams and sauces)…to the abundant fall season with its bushels of apples of countless varieties, pumpkins and squash…Lakeshore Harvest Country serves up a bounty like no other. Wineries and cideries can also be found in this area, offering up award-winning craft beverages perfect for pairing with all the delicious market finds.
“Something magical happens when you head down the beaten paths that meander through Allegan and Van Buren Counties,” says Dawn Soltysiak of Khnemu Studio on Fernwood Farm, one of the 15 farms that make up Lakeshore Harvest Country. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for families to spend quality time together reconnecting and making memories. There’s just something special about seeing kids visit with the cows, goats, llamas and other farm animals, or to enjoy a snack of fresh picked carrots or snap peas, or to head out to the pumpkin patch. Our farms provide an opportunity for entertainment as well as education, as we remind kids where their food comes from.”
Lakeshore Harvest Country was launched with a grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture in 2006 and in 2009 the trail was awarded the “Community Vision” award by the Greater South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to its trail events (see below), Lakeshore Harvest Country publishes a brochure and map which identifies its members and provides additional information about the activities found at each. The map is available at any of the member locations, as well as at the Visitor Bureau offices in Saugatuck and South Haven and Welcome Centers around the state. It can also be downloaded online at LakeshoreHarvestCountry.com.
July 22 – 11th Annual Road Rally
Cost: $20 per vehicle ($15 in advance)
Previously hosted in the fall season, this family-friendly traveling scavenger hunt departs from DeGrandchamp Farm in South Haven at 1pm. The clues make everyone pay attention while traveling the backroads to see what the Lakeshore Harvest Country farms, studios, wineries and cideries have to offer during the summer season. Tour the farms, visit the animals, purchase fresh produce, sample wine and cider and discover the delights found along the Lakeshore Harvest Country trail. The rally ends at 5pm with a celebration the surprise finale location, where over 20 door prizes will be presented, along with give-aways for the kids and of course the trophy for the Rally Champion.
September 9 – 6th Annual Bicycle Tour
Enjoy a countryside bicycle ride to fruit farms, wineries and cideries in and around South Haven, Fennville and Saugatuck as the fall color season begins to take shape. Four routes ranging in length from 15 to 62 miles are available to accommodate riders of varying abilities, starting in Douglas or South Haven. Rest stops, snacks, lunch and even shopping are offered along the route—with concierge service to transport purchases (such as produce, artwork and other goodies) back to the starting point, for riders to pick up after the event. The event starts at 8am. Advanced registration is required at LHCBT.com.
Members of Lakeshore Harvest Country Include:
- Barden’s Farm Market
- Bumbleberry Acres
- Cogdal Vineyards
- Country Road Vineyard
- Dee’s Lakeshore Farm
- DeGrandchamp Farms
- Evergreen Lane Artisan Cheese
- Fenn Valley Vineyards & Winery
- Hungry Village Tours
- Khnemu Studio on Fernwood Farm
- McIntosh Apple Orchards & Winery
- Overhiser Orchards
- Ridley Family Sugar Farm
- Riverbend Raspberries
- Salt of the Earth
- Sunrise Orchards
- Virtue Cider