If family or friends are visiting North Carolina around Easter or on spring break, an annual farm tour event might align with their vacation. Instead of scrambling for tourist attractions during their entire stay, balance that time with visits to pastoral farms all done at your own pace.
For more than two decades, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) has organized farm tours in the spring, summer, and fall, across different regions of the state. The tours help bridge the gap between growers and the public, educate consumers on farm practices, and help people get closer to their food sources. From organic farming practices like using cows for weed control, compost tea brewing, and soil microbiology, to cheese-making, farmstead techniques, and raising pastured pigs—every farm offers something unique.
The tours take place over two days. During the weekend, participating farms remain open and provide demonstrations, tastings, talks on sustainability, and meat, produce, and plant sales straight from the farm. It's helpful to bring a cooler or two packed with ice to safely store goods while traveling to each farm. (If you're picking up produce, check out our post on how to choose the best sweet potato, which also includes tips on properly storing sweet potatoes when you get home.)
The CFSA Piedmont Farm Tour is 2PM-6PM on April 22-23, 2017. While our farm does not participate on this tour since we're located on Eastern North Carolina farmland, we think this is an exceptional opportunity to see and learn what goes on behind the scenes to run a farm. We're fortunate to live in an area with a rich agricultural history and a modern reputation as a top-producing state - not everyone gets an opportunity to visit farms in the way these tours allow!
We heard more about farm tours when talking with folks last month at the Flavors of Carolina Food Show (FCFS) in Raleigh. We had a rewarding exhibition at a produce show in New York last year when we exhibited for the first time ever, so we decided to try a local event. Our time exhibiting at FCFS was another success. We met with produce buyers from grocery chains, restaurants, and distributors. Plus, we also visited with many familiar and new North Carolina food producers. In addition to the connections we made, we shared samples of sweet potato cake, and showcased new package designs as well as details about our forthcoming organic sweet potato packing line.