Largest US farm tour reaps historic attendance

June 6, 2009 at 10:21 am Leave a comment

Berkeley-Bay may get all the buzz, but the largest farm tour in the US is in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triangle area. This time the tour drew more familes and foodies than ever in its 14-year history. Nearly 3600 people trekked to 40 farms (13,195 farm visits), during the annual Piedmont Farm Tour in April, sponsored by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market.

I managed to visit Dancing Pines, Fickle Creek, Peregrine, Beausol Gardens, Ayrshire and Piedmont Biofarm, all impressive, highly efficient, bio-dynamic operations.

  • Ayrshire was the first farm in N.C. to obtain organic certification; owner Bill Dow, a former doc andnatural-born community organizer, helped start the Carrboro Farmers Market more than 30 years ago (now one of the best in the nation) and has mentored countless new farmers, foodies and activists.
  • Peregrine, owned by Alex and Betsy Hitt, provides lettuce to Weaver Street Market, the region’s largest cooperative grocery, and a diverse range of vegetables and cut flowers to the Carrboro Farmers Market and local restaurants. Their Dutch inspired sliding hoop houses are a wonder to behold.
  • Fickle Creek Farm, run by Ben Bergmann and Noah Ranells (Orange County’s agricultural economic develoment director), features a passive solar bed-and-breakfast and delectable chemical-and-anti-biotic-free chickens, hogs and sheep as well as many vegetable crops.
  • Dancing Pines in Efland is an amazingly orderly, bio-intensive farm run by Bill and Joanna Lelekacs, who both have full-time jobs off the farm.
  • Harry LeBlanc’s Beausol Gardens near tiny Pittsboro feeds 100 CSA households from its two-acres of vegetables.
  • And Piedmont Biofarm at the famous Piedmont Biodiesel Plant also in Pittsboro, is energized by Farmer Doug Jones, a seed wizard who specializes in peppers and has developed the Pittsboro Pepper, grown to thrive in our area.

The tour offered just a taste of a region where you can’t swat without slapping a sustainable farmer. There are at least 250 farms selling produce, meats and dairy products at about 30 Farmers Markets and two dozen CSAs in the greater Triangle region.

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Entry filed under: Events, Sustainable Food. Tags: , .

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