Drinking water, sunscreen, hat, closed-toe walking shoes, cash and a camera: These items are all on the “items to bring” checklist provided by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project to people embarking on the 11th annual ASAP Farm Tour on Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23. But the real key to a successful tour, according to tour coordinator Robin Lenner, is decidedly old-school.
“People might want to dust off a map,” she says with a laugh. “Especially people who don’t get outside of Asheville very often. Cell service can be spotty, and GPS is not always reliable on rural roads.”
There are 19 farms on the 2019 tour — five of them new to the event — each placed in one of five clusters. Lenner says visiting four in one day is usually a maximum, and families with young children may just hit two or three. ASAP’s printed and online guides describe what activities each farm offers so guests can make an itinerary based on their interests.
Flying Cloud Farm is one of four in the Fairview/Old Fort cluster. Visitors can pick their own flowers, buy produce and tour the greenhouse, learning about Annie Louise and Isiah Perkinson’s farming practices on the land her parents owned. Flying Cloud doesn’t normally offer tours, says Annie, so “this lets us invite our CSA members and tailgate customers who are curious about the farm to come out on this weekend and support ASAP as well.”
New-to-the-tour Sideways Farm and Brewery is in the Henderson cluster, offering farm and brewery tours with co-owners Carrieann and Jon Schneider. Visitors can interact with their sheep, chickens, ducks and newly hatched baby chicks and give the broadfork a go. “We are a no-till farm” explains Carrieann. “We use broadforks, which are like pitchforks on steroids. They loosen up the soil and make it nice and fluffy. We tell people that instead of CrossFit we do FarmFit.”
Food will be for sale at several of the farms, or guests can bring their own and make it a picnic. One thing not to bring, reminds Lenner, is your pooch. “Dogs can damage plants and be a hazard to farm animals they don’t know,” she says. “We ask that people leave their pets at home and enjoy the animals on the tour.”
WHAT: 11th annual ASAP Farm Tour
WHERE: Farms throughout WNC. asapconnections.org
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, noon-5 p.m. Tickets covering both days are $30 per vehicle in advance, $40 the weekend of the tour.