Adventures in Agritourism
Visit a local farm and learn more about the food on your plateBy Vanessa Infanzon
Most people have participated in some form of agritourism without realizing it: Picking strawberries or pumpkins, riding on a wagon, or attending a composting workshop are all forms of agritourism. It means spending time on a working farm, discovering how food makes it to the table and what farmers do to grow fruits and vegetables and raise animals.
“It’s an enjoyable family adventure,” says Theresa Lowe, co-owner of Mike’s Farm in Onslow County. “[Visitors] actually get hands-on experience when they go to a farm.”
Get your own hands-on experiences by exploring these eight farms in North Carolina:
1Fun Frolic Farm
Burnsville, Yancey County
Fun Frolic Farm produces goat milk soap, lotion, cheese and herbal body products. They also offer educational workshops and interactive farm tours that last between one and two hours. Tour guests may experience the vegetable, herb and medicinal gardens, and meet the baby goats, dairy goats, laying hens and pigs. Most tours also finish with a cheese tasting and a visit to the soap-making studio and farm shop. Farm tours are scheduled by appointment and are for ages 18 and older. The farm welcomes children in private groups and family tours.
2Jeter Mountain Farm
Hendersonville, Henderson County
Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 400-acre family farm is open for seasonal u-pick activities and educational programs. Visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at how apple cider donuts are made. Wagon rides to u-pick orchard stops are offered during harvest season, typically July through October (the full harvest calendar is posted on the farm’s website). Depending on the season, visitors choose from apples, blackberries, blueberries, elderberries, peaches, pumpkins, raspberries and sunflowers. Enjoy hard cider and barbecue, both made on site, while listening to live bluegrass music on the weekends.
Beulaville, Onslow County
Mike’s Farm dates to the 1940s when Mike Lowe’s parents settled in Beulaville to run a small tobacco farm. Today, Mike and his wife, Theresa, bring guests a family-friendly experience through education and delicious food. Pet farm animals, pick strawberries or pumpkins and shop in the NC Products Barn. Mike’s Farm Restaurant specializes in country cooking, and the bakery features apple turnovers, Danish pastries and more.
4Millstone Creek Orchards
Ramseur, Randolph County
In 2004, this 84-acre family farm opened its doors to the public. The Sweet Retreat Ice Cream Parlor, cider press demonstrations, hayrides and live music keep guests busy year-round. The store supports other local farms by selling meat, honey, eggs and other products. The u-pick experience starts in June with blackberries and blueberries. Peaches make their debut in mid-summer. Zinnias and sunflowers, apples, muscadine and scuppernong grapes, gourds, pumpkins and pecans follow the seasons.
Indian Trail, Union County
Bernard Singleton has created an immersive and multisensory experience at his farm. His work is about healing African American’s ancestral trauma caused by enslavement. Special events celebrate the land and contributions of Black culture to food and farming, and teach about sustainable practices and healthy eating. Events such as Taste of Africa, featuring meals from Senegal and Ghana; and Shuckin’ and Vibin’, a Gullah-style oyster roast, highlight growing and cooking techniques. During the spring and summer, blueberries and blackberries are available for picking.
6Perry Lowe Orchards
Moravian Falls, Wilkes County
More than 30 varieties of apples are grown at Perry Lowe Orchards, a sixth-generation farm. Weekends, September through November, visitors get a tractor ride around the 100-acre orchard before picking apples. Kids are welcome to play on the jump pad and shoot apples from the apple cannon while parents take in the beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain. Add apple cider donuts and slushies to the menu for the perfect day. The store is open year-round and carries local jams and jellies, old fashioned candies, honey and more.
Midland, Cabarrus County
Known as the “Pumpkin Patch,” Riverbend Farm opens once a year for the pumpkin-picking season — 2022 will mark its 30th year. Children speed down the Super Silo Slide and Triple Grain Bin Slide, climb aboard an International Harvester Tractor and take photos with a 10-foot cow. Picnic tables and open spaces throughout the farm are perfect for family gatherings. A wagon ride to the pumpkin patch completes a full day at the farm.
8The Ten Acre Garden
Canton, Haywood County
This mountain gem offers seasonal u-pick strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. The farm, located in a fertile river bottom, grows a wide range of vegetables available from April to October. Its on-farm market is stocked with local produce, as well as eggs, jams, jellies, honey and more.
Vanessa Infanzon moved to Charlotte for college and never left. When she’s not writing about business or travel, she’s paddle boarding on the Catawba River.
Know Before You GoTips for the best farm experience, recommended by the NC Agritourism Networking Association
- Find a farm near you using the Visit NC Farms app, which provides details on agritourism opportunities across the state.
- Once you’ve found a farm, check its website for payment options, reservations and schedule changes.
- Wear closed-toed shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. The ground may be uneven and muddy.
- Follow the signs posted about parking and restricted areas.
- Touch only the animals included on the tour or in a designated petting area.
- Feed the animals when allowed to do so. (Sharing your lunch with a pig may seem friendly, but it may not be part of its diet.)
- Leave your pets at home unless the farm says it’s OK to bring them.
About the AuthorVanessa Infanzon moved to Charlotte for college and never left. When she’s not writing about business or travel, she’s paddle boarding on the Catawba River.
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