While we don’t suggest that mere mortals try this, Wessel and I managed to visit 10 farms in five hours during the 14th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour in central North Carolina. That’s because we’re seasoned pros. When you’re researching a farm-travel guidebook, it’s all about chop-chopping (time, not vegetables). While I can’t stop and smell the radishes, I hope my research and Wessel’s photos will lead others to go on more leisurely farm visits. Here’s his collection from the Piedmont tour, with captions and everything.
What I loved most about the farm tour, other than the awesome farms and the hordes of curious visitors, was that the route was laid out for me instead of me having to spend a day with Google maps to come up with my own. (Love Google maps, though!)
If only every NC region had a farm tour and I could follow their routes! (Many more do now, including mountain regions and individual counties, such as Franklin and Jackson, to name a couple.)
Like the gardens you’ll see in this yearly event, the Piedmont Farm Tour keeps growing and growing. Co-sponsored by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, the tour started in 1995 with less than a dozen farms. Now about 40 dot the self-guided route. This year some 3,000 families visited them. That’s a lot of farm fans. A few locations received 1,000 or so guests. Whoa!
The CFSA bills the weekend as “the nation’s largest farm tour,” and while there’s no national accounting of farm tours, their claim is quite credible. Tours include a mix of sustainable produce farms, those with humanely-raised animals, nurseries, vineyards, and educational agriculture projects. This year more than 150 volunteers helped the farmers, who stay busy chatting up visitors. While some of the farms on the tour are always open to the public, this is a chance to view others that typically aren’t. It’s also an excellent way to show kids where their food (and sometimes clothing) comes from, and if you pack a cooler, you can bring some home and cook it up for dinner.
Several farmers and volunteers were sporting this year’s awesome farm tour T-shirt, on a dark background emblazoned with bright orange carrots, 100% cotton. Not just any cotton, natch, but organic! Not just organic, but local (!), from TS Designs in Burlington. I haven’t told those guys how much I’ve taken a cotton to them, but they’ll absolutely be in the book. So will nine of the 10 farms I visited on Sunday. So will CFSA and Weaver Street Market, which is selling those awesome T-shirts for $18. As of April 28, they had plenty. Hey, could you reserve a medium for me?
Thanks from the bottom of our sustainable hearts to all the volunteers, farmers, organizers, and fans who made last weekend a smashing success!