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Hybrid industry expands in South Dakota through new program

The South Dakota Department of Tourism and SDSU Extension created AgritourismSD, a program to expand and enhance the hybrid industry in the state.
The South Dakota Department of Tourism and SDSU Extension created AgritourismSD, a program to...
The South Dakota Department of Tourism and SDSU Extension created AgritourismSD, a program to expand and enhance the hybrid industry in the state.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 4:56 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota’s largest industry is agriculture, with almost 32,000 farms and four times more cattle than people, but in western South Dakota, tourism ranks number one.

The Department of Tourism and South Dakota State University Extension teamed up to bring the two together and expand Agritourism in the state.

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.

“Agriculture is our number one industry,” said Peggy Schlechter, a community vitality field specialist with SDSU extension. “Tourism is often touted as our number two industry so combining those two things, I think is just a great thing to do. People don’t have that connection to agriculture anymore. It used to be, everybody had grandpa and grandma at home on a farm or ranch and they could go visit grandpa and grandma and learn about animals and where their food comes from and where their fiber comes from, in reality, that doesn’t exist anymore.”

South Dakota has a few options for agritourism, including two locations in Sturgis, that give tourists an opportunity to see where local food and drinks come from.

“For us, it’s providing a location where customers that have an interest in small-scale farming can stop and actually have a conversation with the farmers themselves, the owners, and a lot of opportunities for education,” said Michelle Grosek, co-owner of Bear Butte Gardens.

“Whether it’s us with grapes, whether it’s other forms of farming, very important,” said co-owner and winemaker for Belle Joli’. “You want to absolutely see where the food, your beverages, all of that comes from. Very impactful and it’s really what will help develop this region in a lot of different markets.”

The South Dakota Department of Tourism and SDSU Extension created AgritourismSD, a program to expand and enhance the hybrid industry in the state.

“Where people that are interested in either developing an Agrotourism enterprise or maybe already have one, but they want to know how to do it better, are invited to apply,” said Schlechter.

The two-year class provides students with the tools needed to create this type of tourism and gives people another reason to visit the Mount Rushmore State.

The application deadline for AgritourismSD closes on April 1st.

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