This year’s Rappahannock Farm Tour on Sept. 25 and 26 hopes to capitalize on the good showing during the 2009 farm tour when 500 visitors — not including children — attended.
Those encouraging results, prompted the Office of Tourism, the Virginia Extension Service and a few volunteers to organize this year’s tour.
With about 20 venues open to the public, there should be something for everybody to do. Several wineries, a private heirloom apple orchard, cattle and sheep farms, vegetable and fruit farms, as well as diversified farms will be part of the tour. In addition, the participation of plant nurseries will make the point that agriculture is more than food. Two local companies that distribute farm products to their clients as well as two farm schools and the Farm-to-Table program will round out the diverse group visitors will see.
The farm tour is self-guided with activities for the entire family. It’s designed to promote local agriculture to out-of-county visitors and encourage residents to get to know the participating farms. Buying local produce strengthens the local economy, helps support small farms, reduces the amount of energy it takes to transport and refrigerate out-of-state or out-of country produce, generally provides fresher and tastier food and puts you more in control of what you eat — as well as ultimately helps to protect our rural landscape we all so love.
A number of Rappahannock residents participated in the tour last year. Feedback from them indicated appreciation for the opportunity to meet local farmers and learn what they do. They learned about the training of future farmers available in schools, farmland protection and conservation practices. They were able to watch farm activities such as sheep sheering, grape crushing or herding. They also enjoyed cooking demonstrations; watched sheep dogs perform, and learned about draft horses.
They also learned about bees, dyeing wool with local plants, planting to attract butterflies, the challenges of restoring an old orchard, the meanings of “organic” as well as how to add color to their gardens through the use of shrubs.
Finally, just as last year, Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (www.RLEP.org) will hold a barbeque dinner and barn dance on Saturday evening.
The tour has sponsorship opportunities for business, non-profit and individuals, starting at $50, with an ad in the keepsake program starting at $150. Contact Katie Pricer at 540-364-0065 to do so. (If you want to remain anonymous, the tour will still be glad to accept a donation!)
The tour still has spots available at the “All-Things Rappahannock” Market for local food and craft vendors. Items should be made by residents and/or be using Rappahannock grown products or show Rappahannock scenes. If you are interested in having a booth or table at The Link, please contact Sylvie Rowand at 675-3725 or Info@LaughingDuckGardens.com.
As the end of September nears, watch the Rappahannock News calendar of events as well as the Farm Tour Web site for more information.