Growing Saginaw County:
Agriculture & Enterprise
A Deeper Look
Humble beginnings for Saginaw County farms grew into large specialty farms and agribusiness corporations. In doing so, they reshaped the landscape, provided economic development, and changed communities. Many who came to work the soil had to endure hardships. Their labor and dedication to the region also shaped communities.
Here we take a deeper look at niche crops and businesses that further explore the role of agriculture and enterprise in developing Saginaw County.
The Basis for Agritourism
“Simply stated, agritourism could be thought of as the crossroads of tourism and agriculture. Stated more technically, agritourism can be defined as a form of commercial enterprise that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business for the purposes of entertaining and/or educating the visitors while generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.”
-National Agricultural Law Center
U-pick, also known as “pick-your-own,” “cut-your-own" or “choose-your-own," farming emerged in the United States during the 1930s and 40s. This process is where customers go directly to the farm and choose their own products from the field, vine, tree, etc., then pay the farmer directly for what they have harvested. The goal for this type of farming is to bring people directly to the farm, cutting out expensive transportation, storage, and production facilities that directly impact the farmer’s profit margin. Customers get the benefit of “rural recreation” and fresh produce, less expensive than grocery store prices.
In Saginaw County, popular u-pick operations include picking blueberries, strawberries, and cut-your-own Christmas trees. The sandy and acidic soil of western Saginaw County especially is preferable to berries and pines, making both crops profitable u-pick sources. However, u-pick farmers in this region are largely hobby farmers, meaning that their farm operations are generally smaller and not meant to be a primary source of family income. While the area climate and soil are well-suited to these crops, the lack of large-scale processing facilities nearby makes commercial production less likely. Equipment and labor costs are also a barrier to hobby farmers moving toward more large-scale production.