The Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is rapidly becoming a favorite summer event for families, foodies, and farmers. This is the third year of the annual farm tour featuring sustainable growers throughout northeast Georgia. The farm tour is a project of Georgia Mountains Farmers Network (GMFN) in association with Soque River Watershed Association (SRWA). GMFN was formed in 2011 with grant funding from Certified Naturally Grown in response to small farmers throughout the region looking for a way to connect and strengthen the local food system.
Justin Ellis, GMFN organizer and SRWA director, explains “GMFN farmers decided on a set of priorities to focus on as a group. One of those priorities is to host public events to increase awareness and generate support for our local food producers. Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is the result.”
GMFN farmers volunteer their time to the farm tour to accomplish that goal and to generate funds for the organization so that the network can work on accomplishing other priorities on their list, such as cooperative marketing efforts, acquiring equipment that can be shared, and hosting technical workshops for network members.
Brooks Franklin of Leah Lake Farms, one of the farmers featured on the tour and a GMFN Board member, says he enjoys the variety of visitors that come for the farm tour. “It is a great event for families. Each location is unique; some have games for kids, others have animals to pet, visitors can bring a fishing pole and try their luck in Leah Lake. New farmers, home gardeners, and everyone who eats can learn a lot on the tour about the successes and challenges of sustainable growing practices. I get a lot of great questions from guests who want to understand how I am able to grow lettuce year-round.”
“We are blessed to live in a region with a strong and growing local food system,” says tour coordinator Maggie Van Cantfort. “The Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is an opportunity each year to celebrate our regional food producers who are committed to growing without using synthetic chemicals or GMOs. It is also a rare opportunity for the public to get an intimate look into farm operations.”
The 2014 Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is Saturday June 28th and Sunday June 29th from 1-6pm each day. The tour features 16 locations throughout Habersham, Rabun, White, Stephens, Franklin counties and beyond; including community gardens, a honey bee farm, a working grist mill, fruit orchards and optional meal stops with local foods prepared by acclaimed local chefs. For complete details and scheduling please see our tour brochure.
Participants on the tour purchase one weekend pass that allows a carload of attendees to visit as many tour locations as they choose each day of the tour. Among the products featured from the 14 farms on the tour are numerous fruits and vegetables; pasture-raised eggs; grass-fed beef; honey; and water wheel milled organic grains. Other highlights include a farm demonstrating the lost art of horse-powered equipment and several farms using hoop houses for season extension.
In addition to being able to purchase farm products during the tour, many of the farms will have prepared foods to sample, or guests can enjoy a farm-to-table meal at one of the featured meal stops. On Saturday, chef Jeff Morris of the Copper Pot Restaurant in Clarkesville will prepare seasonal snack plates using vegetables harvested from and served in their home garden starting at 11:00 am. On Sunday, Jamie Allred, the acclaimed Executive Chef at the new Fortify Kitchen & Bar in Clayton will feature numerous products from farms on the tour for brunch from 11:00a-3:00p (reservations recommended). Belle’s Diner at Chattooga Belle Farms in Long Creek, SC will also be open for lunch on Sunday from 11:00a - 2:00p. Meals are optional and are purchased separately. Meal stops open two hours before the other tour locations open so that guests can maximize their afternoon tour time. Tour guests should pack extra water, coolers, and be prepared for the weather (sun hats and sunscreen are strongly encouraged!).
Cost of the tour is $30 per carload for weekend passes purchased by June 16th, or $35 for passes purchased after June 16th or on the day of the event from any farm on the tour. The tour brochure with farm descriptions can be found on the GMFN website. Passes can be purchased online starting May 14, 2014 via Georgia Mountains Farmers Network, Soque and through the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown market. In person purchases (cash or check only) will be possible starting May 21, 2014 at the SRWA office (downtown Clarkesville), Habersham Chamber of Commerce in Cornelia, Simply Homegrown farmers market in Clayton and Clarkesville Farmers Market on Saturdays. For those on a budget or who would like to show even greater support for local farmers, you can volunteer to help with the tour. For volunteering one day, volunteers receive a complimentary farm tour t-shirt and a pass to attend the other day for free.
Proceeds from weekend pass and t-shirt sales benefit the Georgia Mountains Farmers Network and their future collaborative projects. “The Georgia Mountains Farm Tour would not be possible without the farmers, volunteers, our sponsors, and the support of the public,” says Van Cantfort, “Their dedication to this event has established Georgia Mountains Farm Tour as a must-do event of the summer. We hope to see the tour and the network grow each year, adding new sustainable food growers and increasing demand for local foods.”
The 2014 Georgia Mountains Farm Tour is sponsored by Georgia Organics, Habersham Chamber of Commerce, Habersham Electric Membership Corporation, North Georgia Turf, Simply Homegrown Farmers Market, and Ingles.
Farm tour locations for the 2014 tour are: White County – LoganBerry Heritage Farm, Nacoochee Valley Farm; Habersham County – Melon Head Farm, Indian Ridge Farm, MTN Honey, Liberty Farm**, Copper Pot Gardens; Rabun County – Mill Gap Farm**, Sylvan Falls Mill, Old School Garden, Fortify Kitchen & Bar**; Stephens/Franklin Counties – Shade Creek Farm**, Taylor Creek Farm, Jan & Zen’s Garden, and in neighboring states - Chattooga Belle Farm (Longcreek, SC) and Leah Lakes Farm (Otto, NC).
Georgia Mountains Farm Tour
Saturday, June 28th & Sunday, June 29th, 1-6pm
• Tour North Georgia's sustainable local food farms in Rabun, Habersham, White counties and beyond.
• Choose from 14 farms to visit
• Enjoy a farm-to-table meal at 3 local meal stops
• Bring coolers and buy food right from the farm
• Learn about the practice of sustainable and organic agriculture
• Thank a farmer!
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