In Rowan County, farming grows tourists, too
By Marilyn Jones
“In 1994 we branched out by opening a produce market and gift shop, and began offering tours,” says Michelle Patterson. Along with her husband Doug, brother-in-law Randall and sister-in-law Nora she operates Patterson Farm Market & Tours near Mt. Ulla.
“On our tours, we let children gather artificial eggs, pick plastic tomatoes and milk a plywood cow,” she says. “And they get to feed animals. The farm began in 1919 and today grows tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries. Patterson Farm is also known for its pick-your-own strawberry field and pumpkin patch, and, in the fall, a corn maze.
Anita and William Yost were honored in January 2011 when Cauble Creek Vineyard was designated the 100th winery in the state. “Governor Beverly Perdue was here and spoke about the importance of agri-tourism,” Anita says. The winery produces 900 cases of wine a year. The couple has a wine tasting room and sells other locally made items.
Another winery — catering to special events, weddings, Friday dinner and Saturday lunch — is Morgan Ridge Vineyards near Gold Hill.
“This land has been in Amie’s family for 200 years,” says Tommy Baudoin, who co-owns the winery with wife Amie. Morgan Ridge produces more than 1,600 cases of estate wine annually. Walking around the property, it’s easy to understand why the parking lot is full and the tasting room is jammed with folks out for a day in the country.
In Salisbury, another aspect of agri-tourism includes Salty Caper, a pizza restaurant where locally brewed beer is served. “The barley used in my beer is grown here in Rowan County,” says brew master Andy Maben, owner of New Sarum Brewing Company. “The barley is sent to a malt house where it is turned into malt and shipped back to me.”
After the beer is brewed, what remains of the grain — which is non-alcoholic — is sent to local farmers to feed their cattle.
When you go
Other agriculture attractions in Rowan County include a farmer’s market, natural food co-op and blueberry picking.
For more information check the agricultural attraction listing at visitsalisburync.com or call (800) 332-2343.
An excellent place to stay is Turn of the Century Victorian Bed and Breakfast. Innkeeper Karen Windate brought this 1905 mansion back to its former glory by painstakingly restoring it over a two-year period. Windate often uses locally grown fruits and vegetables to complement the breakfast she serves her guests.