Local Farm Tour Offers Something for Everyone
|October 3, 2012||Posted by Guest under Agriculture, Events, Farms|
Guest post by Cristin Burns, New Leaf Market
Calling all lovers of farmers’ markets, everyone who insists that farm fresh eggs just taste better, all outdoor enthusiasts, get up and goers, and supporters of local! The 5th Annual New Leaf Market Farm Tour on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21 is one of the best ways to experience all that North Florida and South Georgia have to offer. Thirty-one farms are opening their doors to the public for free!
Spend the weekend touring farms, ranches, orchards and dairies. Meet some of the nicest people you will ever meet. People who are passionate about producing delicious food and who want to share it with you. People like Bobbie and Fred Golden, owners of Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello, Florida. Their retirement to the country quickly turned into new careers as ranchers of goat and sheep. Bobbie, a Certified Master Goat and Sheep Producer, also makes highly desired Mayhaw Berry Jelly and celebrates the harvest each year with a festival.
Always looking for new ways to share local food, Golden Acres Ranch is closing out the farm tour with a Farm to Table Gourmet Dinner on Sunday, October 21 at 5:30 pm. This event combines fine dining, live entertainment (cowboy poet anyone?), beautiful scenery and sustainable local food. Tickets, $65 per person, are now on sale and can be purchased at New Leaf Market or online at www.newleafmarket.coop/events.
If you’re thinking of visiting Golden Acres Ranch, be sure to check out the other seven Monticello farms, which include an apiary (bees), an organic blueberry orchard, a winery and more. Detailed descriptions of each farm and their hours of operation can be found at www.newleafmarket.coop/events/farm_tour/ or you can pick up a comprehensive brochure at New Leaf Market.
Not all the farms are conveniently close together like in Monticello, but locations like Twin Oaks Farm in Bonifay, Florida have enough to offer to make it well worth the trip. Owner Renee Savary is a one-woman wonder. Originally from Switzerland, Renee made Bonifay her new home and populated it with chickens, ducks and donkeys. Twin Oaks Farm, Certified Organic, breeds heritage livestock and poultry breeds. Her chickens—raised for meat—are fed a soy-free organic mix and are raised to maturity on pasture, the old fashioned way. Renee also produces a line of preserves and chutneys that are made on the farm with fresh local fruit and organic evaporated cane juice. There’s nothing like strolling through the pasture in front of the farm house, while listening to Renee talk (while walking among her flocks) about the challenges and rewards of Twin Oaks Farm. Plan on staying for lunch, you will not want to miss enjoying a fresh lunch prepared from Twin Oaks Farm’s bounty.
Farmers like Bobbie and Renee, and all the farmers on the tour, are bringing back a way of life that has been overshadowed by large agri-farms. These farmers are committed to producing the best food, not because they know that as small producers their customers will hold them accountable, but because they believe that their families deserve the best, just like the rest of the world. Hear and see it for yourself.
Many farms offer workshops and seminars on top of tours and hayrides. Backyard Farm will teach you simple gardening tips for planting and natural pest control. If a garden seems too much, how about self-watering containers? JMAK Farms will teach you how to build these easy to use vegetable containers, no yard necessary. Mahan Farms will tackle food security and safety issues in their workshop. Herb lovers will find Bradley Farm’s Pesto and Vinaigrette class. Attendees will learn how to make a simple pesto that captures the freshness of the season and vinaigrettes with fresh herbs that will put to shame any store bought dressings. Did you know you need bats? Pebble Hill Farm will help you to attract bats, great natural pest control, to your farm or garden. Visit to learn everything you need to know about cultivating a bat colony of your own.
The Brooks County Skillet Festival, featured in the Georgia Tour, is a down home food festival that is part farmers market, part antique show and part craft fair, but all local! Take the day and enjoy all that the Skillet Festival has to offer and visit Pebble Hill Grove, Dreaming Cow Creamery and Calathora Farms.
If you simply cannot allocate a whole day to farm tours, consider locations closer to town like Turkey Hill Farm, Orchard Pond Organics or Mahan Farms. These Tallahassee locations have plenty to offer and are within in a short drive of the Co-op.
Most of the farms on the tour do not regularly visit local farmers’ markets. Take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to explore, learn and eat!
Supporting local producers is part of New Leaf Market’s mission, which goes well beyond the store shelves. The Farm Tour is a way for the Co-op to support local farms by connecting them directly with consumers. You can learn more about New Leaf Market and the Farm Tour at www.newleafmarket.coop.