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The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual Family Farm Tour will give people a first-hand look at the production of local foods, like these tomatoes. Photo courtesy of ASAP.

ASHEVILLE — On June 25 and 26, the gates and barns of 41 Western North Carolina farms will open to the public for ASAP’s annual Family Farm Tour. The self-guided tour, organized by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), is your chance to learn how food grows, taste farm-fresh treats, interact with farm animals, and meet the community’s food producers—many of whom don’t regularly open their farm to visitors.

“Because we’re a small farm and work long hours, it’s difficult to host many small, individual tours,” says Chris Owen, who owns and operates Spinning Spider Creamery, a farmstead goat dairy, with her family in Madison County. “The Family Farm Tour lets us give our customers a chance to see our farm in operation, in all its different aspects.” Over the weekend, Spinning Spider sets up stations dedicated to activities like hand-milking goats and, new for 2011, border collie herding demonstrations. The creamery has been a popular tour stop since 2004.

This year, 18 new farm stops join the Owen family and other past participants. Newcomer Jordan Blackley Farm grows a variety of berries; raises bees for honey, as well as chickens; and offers on-farm guesthouse rentals. “We’re thrilled to be a part of this year’s tour,” says farmer Laura Blackley. “Because we’re a relatively new farm, we want to introduce the community to what we do out here!”

Just how do you visit Jordan Blackley Farm, Spinning Spider Creamery, and the 39 other stops?

  1. Purchase a tour button at select area businesses and tailgate markets, or online at familyfarmtour.com. Buttons are $25 in advance.
  2. Pack your car with friends and family. One button admits an entire carload.
  3. Set off to celebrate the region’s agricultural heritage and beautiful rural landscapes. The tour runs 1-6 p.m Saturday and Sunday. Before you go, grab a tour guide, available from button vendors and for download at familyfarmtour.com. The guide includes a map and directions, tour tips, and other details. This year, your ASAP Family Farm Tour button also gets you into the Polk County Farm Tour, June 25 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Details at polkcountyfarms.org.

ASAP’s Family Farm Tour is sponsored by Biltmore and Greenlife Grocery. WNC Magazine is the media sponsor. Friends of the Family Farm Tour are: BB&T, Bouchon, The Market Place, Rosetta’s Kitchen, ScreenDoor, Slow Food Asheville, Sunny Point Cafe & Bakery and West End Bakery.

For more information, including a list of button vendors and details on volunteering and attending the tour for free, visit familyfarmtour.com or call (828) 236-1282, Ext. 114. Also, follow ASAP on Facebook and Twitter for more details and to share your tour experience.

2011 Family Farm Tour Participating Farms

Buncombe County
Becki’s Bounty
Blue Ridge Bison
Dillingham Family Farm
Emma Farms
Flying Cloud Farm
Gaining Ground Farm
Good Fibrations
Hawk and Ivy
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Hominy Valley Farms
Hop’n Blueberry Farm
Imladris Farm
Ivy Creek Family Farm
Jordan Blackley Farm
Lady Luck Flower Farm
Long Branch Environmental
Education Center
Looking Glass Creamery
Martins Creek Homestead
Ox-Ford Farm
Round Mountain Creamery
Thatchmore Farm
Venezia Dream Farm
Whispersholler Farms

Haywood County
Chambers Farm Market
Mountain Organic Research and Extension Unit
Sunburst Trout
Ten Acre Garden

Madison County
East Fork Farm
The Farm Retreat and Home of Farm House Beef
Fisher Branch Farm
New Direction Farm
Philosophy Farm
Spinning Spider Creamery
Sunswept Farm Conservancy
Wake Robin Farm
Wild Mountain Apiaries

Yancey County
Arthur Morgan School
Green Toe Ground Farm
Mountain Farm
Mountain Gardens
Wellspring Farm

APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT (ASAP)
ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work in the region, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282. Search their online Local Food Guide at buyappalachian.org.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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  1. This most excellent news is encouraging because people can showcase themselves & farms and why they take pride in contributing to the general good of NC unselfishy.