Farm tour gears up

The Farm at Sunnyside production manager Emily Cook, furthest from the camera, sells produce to visitors who came to the Washington organic farm for the 2010 Farm Tour. Staff Photo/Roger Piantadosi.

Spring farming season is here and plans are already underway for the 2011 Rappahannock County Farm Tour, to be held September 24-25.

The farm tour planning committee has named Waterpenny Farm’s Rachel Bynum as honorary chair of this year’s tour. Bynum is a leader throughout the regional farming community, respected for her knowledge and advocacy of sustainable farming practices. She and her husband, Eric Plaksin, are co-owners of Waterpenny in Sperryville and are active members of the county community.

“The 2010 farm tour drew more than 500 paid visitors and their families to our farms, orchards, wineries and horticultural nurseries to experience Rappahannock’s agriculture,” said Bynum. “They took home practical information to apply in their own gardens and knowledge about, and a new appreciation for, our local agriculture and its many health, societal and environmental benefits. Many also have become enthusiastic customers of our local farms.”

The planning committee is sponsoring an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, April 18 at the Link in Sperryville. Light food and drinks will be served in celebration of the new farming season. The committee will discuss the timeline for this year’s tour and answer any questions.

Owners of farms, orchards, wineries and horticultural nurseries, and anyone interested in Rappahannock County’s farming community, are invited to participate in this meeting. Owners of businesses or organizations that want to participate in the “All Things Rappahannock” market, to be held at the Link during the tour, are also invited.

The planning committee is looking for new volunteers to join in the planning process and work during the farm tour weekend in September.

To RSVP for the April meeting or to volunteer, contact Candace Wroth at 540-675-5330 or email
“Looking ahead to this year’s Farm Tour, we will, with the help of all farm tour participants, again build a schedule of interesting and informative programs at our participating venues. We will sell local, fresh foods at those venues wishing to do so,” Bynum said.

“New for this year, we’re planning to implement an online registration option for participants to register ahead of time,” Bynum continued. “We also plan to include information about the participating venues on the Web site ahead of the tour.

“We also will offer ‘interest tracks’ for participants that more clearly delineate the diverse categories of farms and activities we have on the tour,” Bynum said. Examples of interest tracks include “kid-friendly activities,” “wine and spirits,” “animals,” “horticultural nurseries,” and “fruits and vegetables.”

Farm tour applications are being mailed to an initial list of local businesses and organizations. Completed applications are due April 30. The tour planning committee will review applications and select participating farms and venues based on their support of the farm tour’s mission. To receive an application for participation as a venue on tour or at the “All Things Rappahannock” market at the Link, email or contact Candace Wroth at 540-675-5330.