Agritourism fun this Saturday in Polk

Published 8:44 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This Saturday, June 25, is the PolkFresh Farm Tour with 18 stops spanning a 9 a.m.-6 p.m. time period. In general, farms will take tour stops from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and wineries from 1-6 p.m. with some local food retail operations running their own hours.

Tickets are $25 per car load with “all you can cram” into the vehicle, safely, of course. Your car pass includes all the stops in Polk County as well as the ASAP tour, or Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Projects farm tour, an Asheville-based tour spanning both Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets can be purchased at Meanwhile Back in Saluda, Tryon and Columbus Farmers Markets, the Mill Spring Farm Store and online at Tickets can also be purchased Saturday on the tour at any of the farm stops in the morning. Wineries will not be selling tickets. Programs will be available the day of the tour with “cluster” info on farms in each area, but you can also see an interactive map on the GRO website beforehand to easier map out your stops beforehand.

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Manna Cabanna in Saluda is an annual Polk Fresh Farm Tour stop featuring our multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture Program, products from a whole range of local farms, and prepared foods from our shared-use incubator kitchen.

Chief Cabanna Operator, yours truly, remembers creating the first PolkFresh Farm Tour for the Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development seven years ago. In those days, I was consulting with the office, and creating a county farm tour was a recommendation they liked.

In the early days, it went more like, “You have a duck and a blueberry bush? Great! You’re on the tour!” We had a healthy showing of tourists but a terrible time with our mapping process, I do recall!

As annual events that stand the test of time go, each year coordinators of this super-fun tour improve and enhance the experience. This year is no exception.

As for Manna Cabanna’s offering this year, grab-n-go snacks and meals will be available in Saluda beginning at 9 a.m. Start your tour in Saluda, fill up your picnic basket at Manna Cabanna and at Meanwhile Back in Saluda, visit the Saluda stops and then float down the grade toward the heart of farm country. At Manna, we will also be taking orders for our 4th of July Shrimp Run to the S.C. Sea Island coast, straight from the waters to you!

Manna Cabanna is a road-side local and organic produce stand that offers veggies, herbs, fruits, meats, eggs, cheeses, and prepared whole foods. We bring local organic veggies and herbs from ground to you within 24 hours. Fresh Carolina shrimp and Polk County Mountain Trout are also available. Information on signing up for our local organic multi-farm CSA program is also available that day. We will be open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. the day of the tour.

So if we don’t see you prior to your day, come finish your day in Historic Saluda, order your 4th of July shrimp, take home a prepared meal for Sunday and enjoy free live music in downtown Saluda that night. We are located in the heart of downtown Saluda, a highly-visited historic town in Western North Carolina. Our address is 105 Main Street, Saluda, NC 28773.

Perhaps the largest threat to sustainable agriculture in America today is the loss of agricultural land and the next generation with the skills to farm. In 2012, NCDA reported that the state is still losing 2,000 or so farms per year. Polk County is not losing as quickly as other areas because large industrial farming has not been as prevalent here and this is the type of farmland that experiences the most rapid loss.

Polk County is interested in holding on to farmland and to teaching the next generation how to farm it.

We are scrambling to slow our loss of dedicated ag-land and aging farmers. Blessedly, Polk County is seeing bursts of young people interested in making farming part of their lifelong pursuits. They come looking for support within our food system’s capacity: marketplace, infrastructure, agricultural leadership, mentors, and community development and most importantly, from us the consumers.