Getting to the root of the matter

Published 8:00 am Friday, June 22, 2018

Public invited to tour Polk County farms Saturday

POLK COUNTY — Though Polk County will soon be in the international spotlight for its rich equestrian community, many who call the area home are passionate about another industry, one that traces its roots back to the region’s earliest days — agriculture.

This weekend, people will have a chance to don a pair of sturdy boots, grab their cameras and get a first-hand look at the processes and labor that goes into powering one of the backbones of the local economy.

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The Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development and local nonprofit Growing Rural Opportunities will once again team up to organize the 2018 PolkFresh Farm Tour, which will take place Saturday. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., people will have a chance to tour more than a dozen local farms and wineries in the county, with many stops also selling their products on-site that day.

As with previous years, people who purchase vehicle passes for the tour may visit any number of the different farms at their own pace. Passes may be purchased online at or at any of the locations on the tour — guests may purchase their pass at their first stop on Saturday.

Several popular destinations from previous years, including Green Creek’s Go Garlic and Tryon’s Sunny Creek Farms, will return for this year’s tour, joined by several newcomers, including Saluda’s Apple Mill, Columbus’ San Felipe Farm and Mill Spring’s Caitlyn Farms.

The Polk County Office of Agricultural Economic Development has organized the tours since 2011 as a way to connect local residents with the farms that populate the county’s many tailgate markets, as well as supply food to local restaurants and grocery stores throughout the region, said Dawn Jordan, the director of the office.

Although agriculture has been a staple of Polk County’s economy for generations, with local farms spread out throughout the area, many residents rarely get the opportunity to witness the hard work and long hours that go into growing crops, raising livestock or producing the other food products that people enjoy every day, Jordan said.

In addition, the tour gives busy farmers the perfect time and day to take a break from their work to welcome eager guests to their operations, the director said.

“It’s a positive win for everyone,” Jordan said. “We want local farms to thrive and be successful, and the only way for them to do so is to be in touch with the local market, and have people see the value of these locally grown and produced products.”

The local farm tours also help highlight a positive trend in the industry. Following decades of massive corporate farms dominating the industry, small, hometown farms are beginning to make a comeback, including in Polk County, Jordan said.

“It always amazes me,” she said. “Almost once a month, I find a new farm our area. I find someone doing something new agriculturally I have never heard of before.”

With people across the country becoming increasingly interested in purchasing fresh, locally grown meats and produce — often from farmers they know and trust — the PolkFresh Farm Tour offers residents and visitors alike the opportunity to see the bounty of Polk County up close, Jordan said.

“You won’t be disappointed [by the tour],” she said. “All of [the farms] have something to offer. All the farm tour guides are very passionate and knowledgeable about their products, and want to share that info with you.”

For more information and an interactive map of the locations on the tour, people may visit