by Cindy Flowers, CFSA
Tips for Planning Your One-of-a Kind Tour
If you just bought your Eastern Triangle Farm Tour ticket, you’re probably thinking about how to plan your route so you can see every farm, right? Well, this might not be the best approach. With 26 farms, 5 of which are new this year, the 11th Annual Tour requires a bit of planning (but not too much).
When you start planning your route, identify your #1, “Must-See” farm (pick 2 must-see farms if you are planning on two days of farm tour fun). You know, the farm that keeps popping up in your Instagram feed with the fleeciest sheep you have ever seen or the farm that grows that beautifully speckled butter lettuce your favorite restaurant has been plating up. Yep, that’s the one you want to put at the top of your list. Another option if you are unfamiliar with the farms on the list is to think about what you want to see: a dairy, for example, or hoop houses, a farm store or a getting up close and personal with farm animals. The farm descriptions on CFSA’s helpful Interactive Google Map, as well as the downloadable brochure, will help you find the your farm. Once you have settled on your “Must-See” farm, add 1 to 2 nearby farms to your route. That way, you’ll spend more time enjoying the farms and less time on the road.
No matter which way you choose your must-see farm, you’ll want to plan your one-of-a-kind route around it each day. Make sure this farm is the first or second stop, that way you know you won’t miss anything! Plan for 45 minutes to an hour at each farm, and allow time for travel in-between (check the brochure or Interactive Google Map description for driving directions). Here is a preview of a few farm favorites for 2017:
A Farm With Fields of Flowers
Located in Timberlake, in the southern region of Person County, Wild Scallions Farm (#25) is a three-time veteran of the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour. One unique feature of Matt & Renee Clayton’s multigenerational farm is their year-round flower production, yielding gorgeous bouquets for your everyday occasions or once-in-a-lifetime moments. Wild Scallions amazing arrangements should not be missed. You can check out their flowers-by-the-season here. According to farmer and owner, Renee, when you visit Wild Scallions Farm expect to see flower fields full of butterflies, hummingbirds, bumblebees, gold finches, and a dragonfly pond—quite a buzzing cloud of life! When you visit, make sure to pick up fresh produce, especially onions, from their new, trial no-till garden. This short film, “A Farming Way of Life-Wild Scallions Farm” gives you more insight into why and how Matt & Renee farm. When they aren’t opening their farm up for the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, Wild Scallions Farms’ flowers and produce can be found at the Durham Farmers’ Market.
A Fun Farm with a Unique Past
While every farm on the Eastern Triangle Farm tour is unique, Turtle Mist Farm (#15), in Franklinton, is the only one in a repurposed bull training facility. Turtle Mist Farms also boasts one of the widest range of animals in the Eastern Triangle, including pasture-raised hens, Red Ranger broiler chickens, hair sheep, heritage turkeys, Muscovy ducks, Toulouse Geese, partridges, beef cattle, Berkshire, Ossabaw and Tamworth hogs, peacocks, Flemish Giant rabbits, quail, and one Belgian horse.
Turtle Mist Farm regularly hosts school groups on its 60 acres, and offers a farm stay opportunity in a lovely home overlooking two stocked ponds. When you stay, you can even accompany Farmers Ginger and Bob Sykes on their daily chores, making this a perfect vacation option for those seeking a taste of real farm life.
On the tour days, Turtle Mist Farm will run hayrides around the farm for a small fee and will show you how to milk a goat at 3pm each day. Snacks, produce, and meat will be available for purchase. SNAP and major credit card are accepted at Turtle Mist Farm.
New to the Tour with a Big Heart
First Fruits Farms (#12) of Louisburg, is one of 5 new farms on this year’s tour. First Fruits was started by former NFL Player, Jason Brown. To everyone’s surprise, Brown quit playing football at the peak of his career to grow food for those in need. Much of what is grown at First Fruits, like sweet potatoes, is donated to hunger relief programs in Eastern Carolina. Jason plans to put more of the farm’s substantial acreage into production each year. Check out this CBS coverage of Jason Brown’s transition from the NFL to farming in the Triangle. Tar River Poultry Initiative, LLC will be on site talking about their Mobile Poultry Processing Unit, and hayrides will be available to tour the sweet potato fields, ponds, livestock pastures and forest farm.
A Few More Ways to support the farms you visit and get more from your experience:
– Help put the farmer on the digital map! Post pictures, check in and use the farm’s hashtag as well as the tours hashtag, #ETFarmTour. Let the world know about our amazing farmers, what they produce and why you love them!
– Wear shoes suitable for the farm and pack an umbrella or rain jacket. The Tour is like farm work, RAIN or SHINE!
– Make sure to bring cash and a cooler for taking home fresh farm goods.
– Meet your friends for a bite at a Farm Meal Stop. Blue Whistler Farm, Carolina Farmhouse Diary, Prodigal Farm, Meadow Lane Farm, Fat Radish Farm and Rare Earth Farm (Sunday Only) will serve lunch. Snacks will be available at Ninja Cow Farm, Vollmer Farm, Turtle Mist Farm, MamaSprings Farm and Bull City Farm.
CFSA’s Eastern Triangle Farm Tour is your backstage pass to the region’s sustainable farms! This year’s tour features 26 farms with 5 NEW farms spread throughout Wake, Durham, Granville, Franklin and Person counties. Don’t miss the unforgettable memories, delicious treats, and farm-fresh fun!
This self-guided farm tour, Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24, from 1-5pm. Tickets cost $30 per carload for both days of the tour, $35 for same day tickets. Information and tickets are available at https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/etft/