High Country Farm Tour returns June 28-29
• There will not be enough time to visit all farms on the tour. Plan on three to four farms per day, allowing one to two hours per farm, depending on travel time. Many of the farms are on the tour each year, meaning you can catch them the next time around.
• Take some time to read the farm descriptions and study the maps. Choose an area that you’d like to visit, or pick a farm that most appeals to you, and plan additional stops nearby.
• Remember that GPS is not always your friend in rural areas. BRWIA has included detailed directions on its website to help farm tourists find their way. Also, signs have been placed at key intersections to help folks on their way.
• Bring a cooler and some cash. Nearly every farm on the tour will tempt you with farm-fresh produce, meats, dairy and grocery products available for purchase.
• Please do not bring pets, as they can be a hazard to livestock and pose food safety threats to produce growers.
• Wash up! Please take time to wash your (and your children’s) hands after petting animals to avoid farm-to-farm transmission of germs. You may be asked to disinfect your shoes at some locations.
• Bring appropriate gear, such as sunscreen, snacks, plenty of drinking water, a hat, umbrella (just in case) and comfortable closed-toed shoes and clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Ever wanted to pet an alpaca?
The High Country Farm Tour on June 28 and 29 will allow those wishing to learn more about agriculture an up close and personal look at how area farms function, as well as some innovative features that are assisting the grow local movement.
The tour is sponsored by Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, a local organization dedicated to strengthening the local food system by supporting women and their families with skills related to sustainable agriculture.
“We do a variety of things related to workshops and grants for farmers and educating local people on buying local,” said Suzanne Fleishman, program coordinator for BRWIA.
Stops along the tour will be available from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29.
“We have 20 exciting farms for this year’s tour,” Fleishman said. “Last year, we had almost 600 participants.”
Fleishman added that each farm is different and offers a unique feel. Some farms will let guests get an up close look at alpacas, goats and Highland cattle, while others showcase how solar panels and greenhouses work.
“This is a cool way to see innovative farms and people doing different things,” Fleishman said. “People won’t feel like they are seeing the same thing over and over again. Each farm is different.”
Fleishman said the tour is mutually beneficial for farmers, as well as guests.
“We really feel the tour is great for a lot of reasons,” Fleishman said. “It makes a connection between the consumer and the farmer. It also enables them to make deeper connections to their customers. When someone comes out and sees the farm, they remember the farmer and are more likely to buy their product if they’ve made that connection.”
Participating Watauga County farms include The Farm at Mollie’s Branch, Fog Likely Farm, Hospitality House Community Garden, New Life Farm, FARM Café’s The Garden Spot, FIG Farm, Waxwing Farm, Lively Up Farm, Apple Hill Farm, Horse Helpers of the High Country, Against the Grain and Nelson Family Farm.
Participating Ashe County farms include Bear Pen Farms (Highland Meadows Cattle Co.), Faith Mountain Farm, Zydeco Moon Farm & Cabins, Landmark Farm Alpacas, Heritage Homestead, Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm, Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm and A Berry Patch Farm.
For a map and directions, visit http://farmtour.brwia.org.
Advanced tickets are $25 and can be purchased at http://farmtour.brwia.org or at any of the local farmers’ markets in Ashe and Watauga counties, as well as the original Mast General Store. Tickets on the day of the tour are $30.