The 21-county territory of ILLINOISouth Tourism is rich with agricultural tradition. There are so many farms in our 100,000 square mile area, it’s impossible to keep count of all of them. We would like to take this time to thank EACH AND EVERY farmer and rancher out there for what they do. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 430,000 people that work as farmers and ranchers. On average, one farmer supplies food for over 150 people a year…kind of crazy to think about, right?
One component of agriculture is agritourism, which has exploded in popularity since the term was coined 20 years ago. If you have ever been to a winery or vineyard to experience their products or made a trip to a local farm to pick pumpkins and apples, that is considered agritourism. It has picked up A LOT of steam in the farming community as it provides additional income to the farmers along with their farm production activities. Agritourism can be a cost-effective way to offer up a family-oriented environment for people who have growing curiosity about farm activities.
In our neck of the woods, the agritourism season starts right about now. Wineries are re-opening for the season as well as different farms and orchards. To read more about a wide array of the agritourism attractions in ILLINOISouth, click HERE. If you’re looking for seasonal trips to farms, our Fall Agritourism blog will give you some great ideas of places to go for pumpkins and apples. There are also plenty of pick-your-own tree farms in ILLINOISouth, so you can read more HERE about those kinds of opportunities!
There are a couple of museums in our region that represent another form of agritourism. The American Farm Heritage Museum in Greenville is home to a selection of farm implements, tools, tractors and other equipment dating back over a hundred years. Their 16,000 square foot main building and two smaller buildings house the museum’s collection. The Illinois Rural Heritage Museum in Pinckneyville is another venue that celebrates the area’s agricultural history. It is laid out on four acres with over 17,000 square feet of exhibit space. This museum does a fantastic job of educating younger generations of how life used to be on farms and in smaller towns. From antique dental equipment to tractors and more, the Illinois Rural Heritage Museum has a TON of items to keep your interest for a couple hours!
Farmer’s markets are another popular agritourism activity, and our area has a variety of options to choose from. If you’re craving some fresh, locally made food or are in the market for handmade goods, we have the solution for you! O’Fallon Station is home to the Vine Street Market, where vendors from near and far gather to sell a variety of goods such as local produce, artisan jewelry, desserts, and more. There is even live music to make the Vine Street Market the perfect way to spend your weekend. The Vandalia, Illinois Farmers Market works to build a sustainable food economy in their community by featuring local farmers as their vendors. Complete with snow cones, music, and activities for kids – the Vandalia, Illinois Farmers Market is sure to be a blast for everyone. The Sainte Marie Farmers Market in Jasper County has no shortage of vendors or products. From delicious baked goods and pure honey to fresh-cut flowers and homemade soaps, the Sainte Marie Farmers Market has something for everyone. Be sure to check out these farmers markets to support local businesses while finding unique treats to enjoy!
If you’re interested in seeing more about some of these wonderful agritourism attractions, we have produced several videos to give folks an idea of what they can experience. Below are a few!
Strawberry picking at Eckert’s, Multiple Locations
Rolling Lawns Farm, Greenville
Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station – Crooked Creek Winery
Schwartz Orchard, Centralia
Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville
Photo credit: Girl looking at apples at Braeutigam Orchards: @MidwestNomadFamily