Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

South Dakota agritourism connects tourists with agriculture

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Department of Tourism and State University Extension are working together to create opportunities with the two largest industries in the state — agriculture and tourism.

Michelle Grosek, co-owner of Bear Butte Gardens. (Courtesy Photo)

People from across the world make their way to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and the Black Hills, but now there’s a new opportunity to draw people in, combining experience, education, and entertainment.  They’ve created an ‘agritourism’ program for ranch and farm owners and others who want to connect tourists with agriculture and help them see where local food and beverages and fiber come from.

“People don’t have that connection to agriculture anymore, says Peggy Schlechter, a field specialist with SDSU Extension. “It used to be, everybody had Grandpa and Grandma at home on a farm or ranch and they could go visit and learn about animals and where their food comes from and where their fiber comes from.” She adds, “But, in reality, that doesn’t exist much anymore.”

Bear Butte Gardens is an organic, small family farm near Sturgis. “For us, it’s providing a location where customers who have an interest in small-scale farming can stop and actually have a conversation with the farmers themselves,” said Michelle Grosek, co-owner of the business.  “There are a lot of opportunities for education.”

AgritourismSD is a two-year program focused on providing the tools and skills needed to develop a successful agritourism enterprise.

Applications are due by April 1.

More information about AgritourismSD can also be found at South Dakota Specialty Producers Association

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