I had a great time last weekend during the 2013 Piedmont Farm Tour, co-sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market, a food co-op here in central NC. For those of you don’t know, the Farm Tour takes place over two afternoons in a weekend and – this year – 39 farms in the area opened up their gates to visitors. Realistically, you can only visit 3-4 farms per day in order to fully experience each farm.
My kids said, “Is that what the country looks like?” Now keep in mind that we lived in West Virginia up until a few years ago, so it’s not like we don’t know country!
We toured two farms on the second day and my children enjoyed the animals, saw a sheep sheared, newborn pigs, and rode a horse.
My overall impression – and I think I probably already knew this – was that farmers work hard! At Coon Rock Farm, we saw a huge field that is waiting to be planted with various kinds of heirloom tomatoes. I looked at that field and thought about all the work involved in planting tomatoes to fill it up, then caring for them, and harvesting them. And that’s just one field!
Clearly, people are called to farm – the descriptions of each farm speak of a commitment to sustainability, preservation of seeds and animals that are in danger of disappearing, and all kinds of innovation for farming, irrigation, and even training the next generation. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from one farm: ” Come see how we turn soil, sunlight, and grass into milk and our delicious farmhouse cheeses.”
From a marketing point of view, the Farm Tour does a great job of helping visitors pick out which farms to visit. Each farm has a one or two paragraph description of what they do and what a visitor can expect to see. And I think the individual farms wrote them because some of the descriptions showed really strong personalities that drew me in and made me put that farm on my “must see” list.
There were also icons beside each description indicating whether or not the farm had appeal for kids, if it offered restrooms, and if food was available for sale. So this year I chose kid friendly and food available, since I wanted to buy some grass-fed beef and I wanted to take my children! And again, this is a good job of differentiating the farms as it gives visitors another way of choosing.
This was our first year attending the Farm Tour, although it’s the 18th year the tour has been offered. I’ve already identified a couple of farms I hope to visit next year.