A taste of area farming

Published 6:57 pm Friday, June 25, 2010

Contrary to reports you might have heard, the family farm is not dead at least not in the Thermal Belt area.

Tomorrow, you’ll have a chance to visit some working farms and other agricultural businesses in the area.

The First Annual PolkFresh Agri-Tour lets you get off the beaten path and actually meet your farm neighbors. Many of the 12 locations on the tour will offer demonstrations, ranging from traditional plowing with draft horses to making goat cheese. You can even make your own wood-fired pizza.

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The tour is a fundraiser for the Mill Spring School Project, which is renovating the school as the Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center and Community Center. All funds will be used for building materials for repairs and renovations.

“We are working to make the day a great experience rain or shine and hope this first tour starts an annual tradition for years to come,” said Lynn Sprague, director of the Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development.

You can buy tour tickets in advance or at a tour site tomorrow. The admission price is per car, so you can fill your car with as many farm tourists as you like.

You can visit the locations in any order from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.., using the map on page 3 to choose your route. The tour covers farms in Saluda, Tryon, Landrum, Green Creek, Marietta, S.C., Mill Spring, Sunny View and Columbus.

1. Columbus Tailgate Market. Courthouse Square, downtown Columbus. Patronize local farmers and artisans at this weekly community market.

2. Mill Spring Agricultural Development Center. Demonstration 8 a.m.-1 p.m. School Rd., Mill Spring, near the intersection of N.C. 108 and Hwy. 9. Regional business incubator and community center with plans for artist studios and commercial kitchen. Monthly flea market held the last Saturday of each month, including tomorrow.

3. Steve Price. Demonstration 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Green River Church Rd., Green Creek. Travel north on Poors Ford Rd. from Chesnee Hwy. Follow signs to house. Learn about traditional plowing with draft horses in this family-operated business.

4. Emerald Spring Farm – Bill and Lee Barker. Demonstration 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. 5860 S. N.C. Hwy. 9. Take Peniel Rd. from Columbus and turn right onto Hwy. 9. See the house on the right immediately. This small American Alpine goat farm was Mrs. Barkers dream. Watch a goat milking and cheese demonstration, and learn about raising goats from infancy. Visit the Barkers chickens, baby turkeys, gardens, and pecan tree groves.

5. Adawehi Gardens. Demonstration 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

93 Adawehi Lane, Columbus, off of Fox Mountain Rd. Go to

www.adawehi.com/about/directions.asp. Adawehi Village is offering continuous guided tours from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Take a walking tour of Adawehis 13-acre N.C. Stewardship Forest as well as a ferried tour of the Biodynamic Gardens and Orchard. The Beneficial Foods natural foods store on site offers freshly-grown produce and freshly prepared soup and sandwiches. Restroom facilities provided.

6. Glenreid – Steve and Donna Reid. Demonstration 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 333 Lamb’s Grill Rd., Rutherford County. 3/10 of a mile into Rutherford County from Chesnee Hwy. Come take a hay-ride on this new family farm just over the Polk County border in Rutherford. Feed and pet some of the more than 70 Boer goats and see turkeys and Australorp and Rhode Island Red chickens. Walk through the greenhouse and gardens and see the catfish pond. Come try free samples, and purchase some goat meat to bring home. Restroom facilities provided.

7. Harmon Dairy. Open 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; demonstration 10 a.m.- noon. 335 Harmon Dairy Lane Rd., Columbus, two miles south on Hwy. 9 after the Chesnee Hwy./Hwy. 9 fork. At this small family dairy farm in Green Creek, more than 50 years old, brothers Doug and Alan Harmon manage fewer than 70 cows that graze on this pristine stretch of farmland in the hills of Green Creek. Learn how these cows are raised, fed, and milked.

8. Manna Cabanna. Demonstration 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Main Street, Saluda. Carol Lynn Jackson created this organic local food stand and CSA business in downtown Saluda. Come by to take home some freshly-grown, organic produce! Restroom facilities provided.

9. Restoration Farm. Demonstration 10 a.m. – noon. 6425 Coxe Rd., Rutherfordton (Polk County). From Columbus on Hwy. 74, take Exit 173, Union Rd., and turn right off ramp. Turn right onto Coxe Rd. After 2/3 of a mile, turn right into farm. Learn about raising free range chickens and turkeys. Dawn also works with her school-age daughter to make soap. A chicken processing demo is available to tourists: Please request if you need to opt out of this part of the tour.

10. Giardini Trattoria. Open all day; lunch noon – 2 p.m. 2411 Hwy. 108E, Columbus. Travel north on 108 through Columbus and find the gardens on the left with a yellow house. Walk along the sustainable gardens at this new gourmet restaurant in Columbus. Make your own wood-fired pizza and eat it with fresh organic green salads and a veggie pasta salad to round out the lunch. Buy fresh desserts and bulk produce, as well. Restroom facilities provided.

11. Cliffs Organic Gardens. Demonstration 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. 660 Garden Market Dr., Travelers Rest, S.C., off of Hwy. 11 near the Hwy. 25 bridge. Tour ten acres of sustainable, USDA-certified organic gardens in Cliffs Community. Learn about cover cropping, walk through a shiitake mushroom forest and three certified organic greenhouses.

12. Triple R Farms – Leslie and Rodney Russell. Demonstration 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. 3989 Miracle Dr., Rutherfordton. Take Poors Ford Rd. from Chesnee Hwy., turn left onto Lyles Pond Rd. and left at end of road onto Miracle Dr. (look for signs). Learn about raising grass-fed, antibiotic and artificial hormone-free beef cattle! What part of the cow is your cut from? Watch the Russells paint a cow to demonstrate. Visit this pristine 125-acre, seven-year-old farm on the Green River, try some free samples, and purchase some grass-fed beef.