Grab your camera and pack up your car with your best crew — it’s time to get out in the fields for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual farm tour. The self-guided tour will be held Saturday, Sept. 20, and Sunday, Sept. 21, and takes place at 37 Appalachian Grown certified farms across nine counties in Western North Carolina.
“We really look to have a mix of farms on the tour — new farms, returning farms and farms that are popular with visitors,” says ASAP Development Director Scott Bunn. “We want to make sure we have a variety in offerings, from animals to produce production, and a variety in scale — from small farms to big farms to even an urban farm.”
With 11 new farms joining this year, Bunn says the tour is an opportunity for visitors to see farms they may not have visited before, including some farms that are not usually open to the public. It’s also an opportunity for local restaurants to connect with suppliers and strengthen the farm-to-table connection in WNC. Bunn notes that many restaurants and other businesses have connected with farms on the tour and gone on to source their products.
“But really the tour is for everyone to get connected, not only business owners,” Bunn adds. “We hear from a lot of farms that they gain new CSA members or shoppers at the tailgate markets from connections made on the tour.”
The tour is also an opportunity for visitors to participate in the Farm Tour Photo Contest. Photos can be submitted at fromhere.org until midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 24. Winning photographers will receive “bucks,” similar to gift certificates, from the Asheville City Market and a free pass for next year’s farm tour. The photos will also appear in next year’s farm guide and other promotional materials for ASAP.
Passes for the farm tour are $25 online or from participating vendors, $30 day-of (purchased at whichever farm you visit first) or $10 for individual farms, and include a raffle ticket to win two annual passes to the Biltmore Estate. For more information visit asapconnections.org.
ASAP offers profiles of each of the 37 farms on its website, but here’s an introduction to some of the Buncombe County farms you can visit on the tour:
East Buncombe Cluster
“The Little Garden With Big Ideas,” Becki’s Bounty grows food for a weekly produce stand and is a frequent feature at the Oakley, East Asheville and Black Mountain farmers markets. The Lake Tomahawk garden also hosts permaculture and biodynamic demonstrations.
Eagledove Greenhouse and Farm
Home to chickens, rabbits, ducks, goats and pigs, Eagledove is a source for organically raised, free-range eggs and meats, as well as fresh cut flowers and aquaponic fish. The Twisted Roots food truck will also be on-site for the farm tour.
New to the tour this year, New Sprout was founded in 2011 by Alan and Jill Rose. They currently sell to several grocery stores, including 28 Whole Foods locations and over 200 Ingles locations.
Scroll through the slideshow to view more photos from farms in the East Buncombe cluster.
North Buncombe Cluster
Another farm making its premiere on this year’s tour, Amusing Farms is home to a family of colored Angora goats whose red, gray, black and white mohair is used to create felted and needle felted craft items that the farm sells. The farm will offer short needle felting classes during the tour.
Meadow Cove Farm
Also new this year is Meadow Cove, the vegetables, berries, fruits and shiitake mushrooms farm of Paul and Claudine Cremer, which is a supplier for many local restaurants including Posana Cafe and the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. The farm is also notable for its use of solar energy, which visitors can learn more about during the tour.
Ivy Creek Family Farm
Located on the north fork of the Ivy River, Ivy Creek Family Farm is home to a CSA Harvest Share and a live-in apprenticeship program. For the tour, the farm will offer a cooking activity, a scavenger hunt and a chance to pick your own flowers for a custom bouquet.
“Goat to Garment” is what you’ll see at Good Fibrations, where demonstrations on spinning, weaving and felting will show visitors how the fur of the farm’s Angora goat kids is turned into a workable textile.
Flying Cloud Farm
Suppliers of local restaurants including Rosetta’s, Zambra and The Southern, Flying Cloud Farm is a spot for u-pick flowers as well as eggplants, fall green and sweet potatoes. The farm was also our reader’s pick for best Roadside Farm Stand and CSA in our 2014 Best of WNC poll.
A place for artisan jams, rabbits and free range eggs, Imladris Farm is now a seventh-generation family farm, originally established when the Marlowe clan settled in Spring Mountain in the 1880’s. The farm is well prepared to keep the little ones entertained during the tour, with kid-specific educational activities and ice cream.
Adelbert Farm began as a depression-era apple orchard and still grows fruit from those original trees. But today the farm also serves as an outdoor classroom and camp site teaching math and science to local kids, as well as organic produce, goat’s milk, poultry and pork.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
The 2014 Best of WNC winner for Favorite Farm to Visit, Hickory Nut Gap is a family farm that has been placed in a conversation easement with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy — assuring it will remain a family farm into eternity. The farm will offer apple picking, animal interactions and food trucks during the tour.
Check out this video from Hickory Nut Gap for more from the farm: