By Calie Brummer
On Saturday and Sunday, June 23–24, more than 20 family farms throughout Western North Carolina will welcome guests to explore and learn about their farms during the annual (ASAP) Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm Tour. The event runs from 12–5 p.m. both days and offers a firsthand look into how food is grown in the mountains.
On Saturday, June 2, the Farm Tour will host a special ten-year anniversary celebration at Asheville City Market. Local farms will be in attendance to showcase their products. In addition, Farm Bureau will bring its AgSimulator, which gives children and adults the simulated experience of riding in a harvester cab as they learn agricultural facts.
“We are a small family-run farm sitting right at the base of Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains,” says Gretchen Ferrell, co-owner of Open Ridge Farm, a participant in this year’s tour. “We practice low-to-no till in our market gardens and we have planted an orchard of fruit and nut trees, as well as many other perennials, which support our permaculture design strategies.”
Open Ridge Farm will also showcase its hot sauce offerings during the tour, which are available year round in shops and markets in surrounding counties. “We have recently built a passive solar propagation house, and have a farm kitchen where we make our delicious line of Pica Rica hot sauces from our peppers,” she says. “We really look forward to welcoming people to the farm and sharing the beautiful little corner of the world we call home!”
The ASAP Farm Tour is family-friendly and is the perfect occasion for guests to learn how their food makes the journey from farm to table. The tour showcases a variety of farms, including fruit and vegetable farms, vineyards, creameries, fiber farms and farms with livestock. A few participating farms will offer family-friendly activities such as hay rides and chances to meet farm animals on-site and will also have products and specialty meals for purchase.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the ASAP Farm tour after a couple years absent,” says Elke Amenda-Spirakis, owner of Wellspring Farm. “We love being part of the local farming community and welcoming our farm guests who are curious to learn what we do or are contemplating a venture in livestock farming.” Wellspring Farm invites guests to stop by their barn and covered porch to sit back and relax.
“During the farm tour, we give talks on the llamas and sheep that are part of our lives, with plenty of time to meet some of the animals,” says Amenda-Spirakis. “We will demonstrate the steps involved in taking raw wool and making useful products, and items will be available for purchase in our studio.”
During the self-guided tour, guests can visit as many participating farms as possible each day of the event. Many guests are able to visit three or four farms each day.
To purchase tickets, visit asapconnections.org. Passes are $30 in advance and $40 the weekend of the tour. One pass admits a carload.