Jason Craig tends cattle at Restoration Farm, one of many farms on this year’s Polk County Farm Tour. (photos by Katie Craig)
Jason Craig tends cattle at Restoration Farm, one of many farms on this year’s Polk County Farm Tour. (photos by Katie Craig)

Connecting community with farms

Published 9:14pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

Barn doors will open wide across Polk County on Saturday, Sept. 21 for the fourth annual PolkFresh Farm Tour. The tour offers a smorgasbord of opportunities to sample and savor the flavor of the area.

“It’s been a very rough growing year for farms, and it’s important that everyone go out and show their support for our local farmers,” said Mindy Weiner, organizer of the Polk County Farm Tour.

On the Polk County Farm Tour participants drive from farm to vineyard experiencing first hand the animals, fields and those who work to keep both healthy and beneficial to the community. (photo by Katie Craig)
On the Polk County Farm Tour participants drive from farm to vineyard experiencing first hand the animals, fields and those who work to keep both healthy and beneficial to the community. (photo by Katie Craig)

A ticket buys entry to diverse experiences, from learning the milking processes at the multigenerational Harmon Dairy to seeing award-winning goats at Sunrise Farm.

The self-driving tour can be tailored to individual interests, Weiner said, and every penny of the car passes will go to the 12 participating farms, dairies and wineries.

“Families with children really will enjoy the tour,” Weiner said. “Kids often have no idea where their food comes from, and many of us take for granted the great food that’s right outside our back door. It’s important to know and show the difference between fresh food and fast food.”

Backyard gardeners can learn new skills, and fresh local foods will be available on the tour.

Sandy Plains Farm offers the only pastured meat rabbits in the county. The tour also features the 7-acre farm at Polk County High School, the only state-accredited, working high school farm and a model for North Carolina.

Heritage birds, including chickens and turkeys, will be a feature at Restoration Farm, owned by Dawn Jordan.

“A lot of people want to know about practices of farming and see what we do first-hand. People want to know what they can do to provide for their families. I share things they can do as homesteading practice, even if they live in the city or on a small acreage,” said Jordan. “There’s so much anyone can do, like vertical farming, raised beds, pots, or composting, even in very small spaces. I love to see people turn the grassy areas of yards into productive gardens.”

For folks interested in adult beverages, the tour offers an opportunity to deepen knowledge of the local vineyards.

The tickets for this farm tour also will be good for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Tour the next day, so one ticket could allow tastings and tours at five area wineries along with the farms and dairies.

The Polk County Tour is offered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, and the ASAP tour of 31 additional farms begins at 1 p.m. Saturday and ends on Sunday.

Anyone on motorcycle or bicycle may have a discounted ticket.

Tickets are available at www.polkcountyfarms.org, at the Mill Spring Farm Store at the Agricultural Center, and at the Columbus Farmers Market.

“It’s really important to be aware of how lucky we are to live with such diversity and abundance,” Weiner said. “I have traveled the world, and I am amazed by what we have right here.”

Participating venues include Columbus Farmers Market, Green Creek Winery, Harmon Dairy, Maple Creek Farm, Mill Spring Ag Center, Overmountain Winery, Parker Binns, Polk County High School Farm, Restoration Farm, Sandy Plains Farm, Sunrise Farm and Yielding Branch at Giardini.

“I think we all can take a stance on supporting these local farms,” Weiner said. “Making a living is tough, and if we support these farms, more people can afford to live and work here.”

To make a great Saturday even better, Slow Foods of the Foothills will host their monthly potluck on the front lawn of the Agricultural Center in Mill Spring from 5:30-7:30 p.m., open to everyone.

 

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