A dreamy world of piglets and bees lies just up the hill and around the bend from a cornucopia of salami, cheese and jam. ASAP's annual farm tour unites livestock and food in one weekend of mini farm vacations. Pick either route (or create your own) to behold the beauty of the region’s family farms on Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept 22. Find out more at http://asapconnections.org.
For the livestock lovers:
Dry Ridge Farm
Lambs are lining up by the dozens at Dry Ridge Farm. Fifty baby sheep, some just three weeks old, will be on display in a specialized lambing barn. The farm is located about three miles off Interstate 26, so it's the perfect place to start your livestock tour. If you stick around long enough, you may even see a lamb being born. 181 Willow Drive, Mars Hill.
Wild Mountain Apiaries
Get the buzz on Marshall's bees at Wild Mountain Apiaries. Peer into an observation hive to see queens and worker bees get busy, and check out the apiary's micro-hydro turbine and solar power system. Then get your taste buds ready to sample herbal-infused honeys, including lavender, chai spice and hot pepper. 875 Will Arrington Road, Marshall.
Tennessee fainting goats are getting tipsy at Razor Mountain. Across the way, spotted pigs wallow in the mud and Dominique chickens announce each egg with a hearty squawk. This haven of heritage breeds does its part to protect genetic diversity, while giving everyone a chance to coo over adorable animals. 157 Poverty Branch Road, Barnardsville.
Angora goats are the hippies of the livestock world. Their dreadlocked manes often cover their eyes, giving them a shaggy, psychedelic vibe. Good Fibrations is one of the grooviest places to find angora goats and the mohair they produce. Give them a pat on the head and pick up some of the most far-out scarves, shawls and vests around. 27 Ivan Bridge Drive, Barnardsville.
For the foodies:
Seven generations of the Harrill family have lived on Imladris Farm, which is named for an elven outpost in the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tour the farm's berry patches, visit with rabbits and baby chicks, and learn about sustainable wood harvesting. Taste the jams and butters and possibly some ice cream. Preserves and rabbit meat will be available for sale. 45 Little Pond Road, Fairview.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Have lunch at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, catered by Fairview's The Local Joint, and perhaps pick up some groceries. The farm store is open all season, with plenty of grass-fed beef, pork, preserves and produce. Take a tour of the animal-raising areas, mushroom-growing operation, berry patches and apple trees. Check out the farm’s special areas, include a hay pile, corn maze, tree house, tire swing and baby animals, all for a discounted admission rate ($5 for adults, $3 for children). 57 Sugar Hollow Road, Fairview.
Round Mountain Creamery
Not all kids like goat cheese, but most kids do like ice cream. At Round Mountain Creamery, farm-tour families can learn how to make ice cream from goat’s milk. Owner Linda Seligman will provide instructions and, perhaps, a demonstration. Other attractions include creamery tours, cheese sales and samples from cheesemakers all around the region, plus baby goats for petting. 2203 Old Fort Road, Black Mountain.
Foothills Pasture Raised Meats
Finish off the foodie tour at Foothills Pasture Raised Meats. If the weather is good, the McKissick family will prepare a bonfire with marshmallows for roasting as the evening winds down (be sure to bring your favorite lawn chair). The Bom Bus Portuguese food truck will serve dinner on the farm. Foothills will sell fresh and cured meat on site, and the farmers will be available to answer questions about raising cows and pigs. 788 Mt. Hebron Road, Old Fort.