Food Lifestyle Locally Made

Plan Your Weekend at the ASAP Farm Tour September 17-18

(From left) Holly Spring Farm. Photo by Sarah Jones; Sustainabillies. Two Trees Farm

By Emma Castleberry

ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) presents its annual Farm Tour on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, from 12–5 p.m. both days. Nineteen farms, including ten new farms, are participating in this year’s tour, which is broken down into four geographic clusters, all located within an hour’s drive of Asheville.

The McDowell Cluster features all farms that are new to the tour, including Lee’s One Fortune Farm, owned by Chue and Tou Lee. The Lees will provide a tour of rice fields where they grow two varieties: purple ice rice and sweet sticky rice. They will be roasting, drying and peeling rice during the tour and allowing visitors to participate in the process. “The crowning jewel for us is our rice,” says Tou. “For us to be able to grow it here and continue our traditional way of life by providing for our families and friends is highly treasured. The pride in our farm is not for what my wife and I are doing. Our effort is the smallest part of our endeavor at Lee’s One Fortune Farm. It is the pride of our heritage and culture and the knowledge of our elders and their hard work that is the driving force behind our newfound popularity in our local community.”

Visitors can explore a new orchard on the farm, where the Lees are testing fruits such as pomegranates, high-end Japanese plums, and Asian peaches and pears. “We will have a hay ride wagon to take our visitors around the property,” says Tou. “There will be a family recipe of Hmong-style sausages for taste and purchase that is produced by our cousin in Wisconsin. We will also demonstrate how to cook rice and vegetables the traditional Hmong way. ”

A major goal for the Lees is for their farm to serve as a place that teaches and promotes sustainable agriculture business. “Our Hmong tradition lets us work in a cooperative fashion in order to leverage our labor force,” says Tou. “This has sustained families in the Hmong community for generations and it can be utilized here, too. The workload is high, but by leveraging our labor, we grow more varieties of fruit and vegetables with focused efforts on field work during the growing season.”

(From left) The Ten Acre Garden.  Smoky Mountain Mangalitsa. Photos by Camilla Calnan Photography

In addition to organizing the farm tour around geographical clusters, the Farm Tour guide offers themed lists to help visitors plan their weekend. The Tasty Tour, sponsored by Explore Asheville, highlights specialty food or drinks and farms that have strong relationships with area restaurants. The Farm Fresh for Health Tour, sponsored by Mother Earth Food, includes opportunities to combine your tour with healthful activities like going on a hike and picking your own fruits and vegetables. The Show Me How It’s Done Tour, sponsored by WNC Magazine, features farms with education and demonstrations on how to produce your own food or use specific techniques. Red Fiddle Vittles is sponsoring The Kids Tour, which focuses on farms with child-centric activities.

Two Trees Farm will be a stop on The Kids Tour, where there will be a scavenger hunt for children and also a kid’s tour led by Lyra, daughter of farm owners Sara Martin and Dustin Cornelison. Located in the Haywood Cluster of the farm tour, Two Trees participated in the 2019 tour, but a lot has changed since then.

“Since our last participation, we have become a full-time market garden with both of us farming,” says Martin. “We are excited to share the new greenhouses and all of the changes we have instituted to make a complete living from the farm.” Some features of Two Trees Farm that visitors can experience include a solar-powered geodesic dome where they grow avocados and pomegranates; a tiny house built from salvaged materials; and a blacksmith shop where Cornelison makes hand-forged metal products like tools, knives, jewelry art and garden structures.

Sustainability and living lightly on the land are the core philosophies at Two Trees. “We are a homestead turned market garden,” says Martin. “You can see how someone with less than ideal land transformed their landscape to support their family, and then other families, with sustainable, regenerative agriculture.”

Descriptions of each farm’s offerings, plus a map, driving directions and tour tips, are available at Advance passes are on sale now on the website. One pass admits a carload of visitors to all farms both days.

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