Hotel guests across the state will be offered free locally-grown apples at check in, courtesy of the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC) and the 900 growers the organization represents.
A basket of fresh apples along with copies of the 2010 Michigan Farm Market & Agricultural Tourism Directory will be delivered later this month to more than 400 lodging facilities across the state. It is part of the 5th annual “Check In To Michigan Apples,” a MAC promotion offered at no charge to lodging facilities with a minimum of 20 rooms.
“It’s not just about apples, it’s about raising the profile of Michigan agriculture,” said Denise Donohue, MAC executive director. “We’re the second most diverse agricultural state in the nation and have plenty to be proud of. The directories help tourists easily find farm markets and orchards where they can enjoy fresh, locally-grown produce and partake in the wonderfully unique fall traditions Michigan has to offer.”
MAC partnered with the Michigan Farm Market and Agri-Tourism Association, publisher of the farm market directory, in an effort to expand the “Check In” project this year. With funding through a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant, the groups were able to nearly double participation from the previous year and even do some advertising to help increase farm market awareness.
Billboards along U.S. 31 from South Haven to Traverse City starting in mid-September will encourage passersby to visit a Michigan farm market. The billboard design was also made into a sign to display at the front desk of each participating hotel.
“We’re showcasing the many different types of fall traditions this state has to offer so we selected wine grapes, pumpkins, a corn maze and apples for the billboard design,” said Donohue.
Participating properties will receive an initial supply of apples and about a dozen directories following the Labor Day weekend. MAC has worked with several food service companies in the state to expand the selection of locally-grown apple varieties.
“Participating lodging facilities are encouraged to refill the baskets with Michigan Apples throughout the year – even after the promotion ends,” said Donohue. “Our hope is that they’re more aware of the quality and variety of Michigan Apples available for day-to-day services such as their continental breakfast, conference services or on-site restaurants.”
MAC has several other initiatives in place this fall to make consumers more aware of the importance of supporting local farmers.
“In fact, if every Michigan household spent just $10 a week on Michigan-produced food, it would generate $37 million each week,” said Donohue. “In these economic times, that’s a pretty compelling number to share with Michigan residents.”
Apples are the state’s largest and most valuable fruit crop with an estimated annual economic impact of $800 million. The entire agri-food system in Michigan is estimated to have a total annual economic impact of more than $60 billion and accounts for more than 1 million jobs.
Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world.
For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.