Despite the summer-like temperatures we are experiencing as we begin the month of October, fall weather really is right around the corner. And there is no better way to celebrate the change in seasons than to go outside and discover local farms and food systems.
When we become knowledgeable about local agriculture, we become more connected to where our food originates and how it was produced. This, in turn, can also support the growth of our local economy. According to a study by Cornell University, every dollar spent on local food generates an additional 81 cents in local economic sectors.
On October 12 and 13, you can learn about and support agriculture in North Florida through the 12th Annual Farm Tour. Organized by Millstone Plantation, there are over 30 farms, ranches, farm-to-table restaurants, and gardens between Chipley and Madison, Florida that will be open for the public to explore at no cost. Visitors will have a chance to take farmer- and gardener-led tours, talk with local farmers and gardeners about their production practices, sample food, purchase farm products, take hayrides, see and pet livestock, enjoy hands-on activities for adults and children, and much more.
There is an excitingly wide diversity of farms on the Farm Tour this year. The following is a brief summary of all the locations that will be open October 12 and/or October 13. You can check the Farm Tour Booklet for more details about specific times sites will be open.
Farms on the tour that specialize in raising grass-fed beef include Arrowhead Beef and Deep Roots Meat. Earthshine Acres produces heritage breed pork, pasture raised turkey, and duck eggs. Paradise Found produces free-range eggs and pasture poultry. Glendower Farms raises the iconic Spanish Iberico pigs, and will have cooking demonstrations and meat tastings. Johnston’s Old Fashioned Meat Market will offer workshops on meat processing, sausage making, and even doughnut making!
There are also grass based dairies and creameries, including Cindale Farms – Southern Craft Creamery and Ocheessee Creamery. Golden Acres Ranch will have a miniature white horse and donkeys that love to be petted. They also have goats, sheep, chickens, guineas, keets, and Great Pyrenees guardian dogs. Orchard Pond grows organic produce, raises grass-fed beef and pastured pork, and makes pesto, granola, and beef jerky.
Millstone Plantation, the Farm Tour organizer, offers workshops throughout the year in sustainability skills, land management, and folk and fine arts. It is located on beautiful Lake McBride and will offer activities for children, food from the Millstone Kitchen, and various demonstrations.
Florida-Georgia Citrus produces Satsuma oranges and other citrus varieties and Just Fruits and Exotics is a very diversified fruit tree nursery. Monticello Vineyards & Winery is located on the 50–acre farm of Ladybird Organics and features wines made from organic muscadine grapes.
Pine Dove Farm Community has a working farm, which provides residents with a variety of organically grown crops, fruit trees, and pecan orchards. The Dwellings is a non-profit community-based program that supplies supplemental produce and food from their hydroponic greenhouse.
SunBlest Farms is a wholesale greenhouse operation that sells potted plants to local garden centers and greenhouses. Timber Bamboo grows 25 different species of bamboo and teaches people how to grow and control bamboo. They will have demonstrations on how to make charcoal, chips, bamboo vinegar, and how to control algae.
Treehouse Permaculture grows vegetables, has over 100 fruit trees planted, and raises goats and chickens for eggs and milk. A&B Produce grows a diversity of vegetables on less than two acres and Apalachee Farms grows multiple vegetables and strives to encourage species diversity. Artzi Organic Garden received their USDA Certified Organic Certification in 2013 and grows organic fruits and vegetables, many of which are used in the products of their food company, Pita Queen. Handsome Harvest grows a diversity of vegetables, flowers, and herbs.
Liberty Farms grows a diverse variety of vegetables to supply their three restaurants, Liberty Bar, The Hawthorne, and El Cocinero. Backwoods Crossing is a farm-to-table restaurant growing a diversity of fruits and vegetables, as well as shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane mushrooms. They also raise quail, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits.
The Frenchtown Farmers’ Market will be on the tour and is the only local market to accept and double SNAP/EBT purchases up to $40. They will have produce and hand-crafted goods for sale and the Frenchtown Urban Garden will offer workshops on composting.
Not only are there farms to visit on the tour, but this year multiple community gardens have joined in October 12 as part of In the Garden: A Fall Community Garden Open House, where there will be free workshops led by garden leaders and UF/IFAS Extension Leon County Extension Agents. Workshop topics include growing fall vegetables, using cover crops, composting, planting and maintaining blueberries, and seeding and transplanting. Specific details are available by using the following link: In the Garden: A Fall Community Garden Open House. And on October 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Vegetable Demonstration Garden at the UF/IFAS Leon County Office will also be open to tour, and Master Gardener Volunteers will be sharing their gardening knowledge with visitors.
As you can see, there is a lot to experience and enjoy! Each of the participating sites are listed within the Farm Tour Booklet and a map on the last page outlines their locations. Hard copies of the booklets are also available at local UF/IFAS Extension Offices.
Remember to bring along water, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, and wear closed toe shoes when visiting Farm Tour sites. If you visit farms that will be selling produce or meats, consider bringing along a cooler with ice and some cash, as some sites do not accept credit cards.
Support our local farms, farmers, and food systems by participating in Farm Tour 2019!