As a kid growing up in Florence
, I would never dream of going on a farm tour. I mean, I got one every time I went to visit cousins on both sides of my family. Two of my four grandparents grew up on farms. I know what it’s like to pick butterbeans and peas, strawberries and blueberries, peaches and apples.
But today’s “city” kids often don’t have that same opportunity (yes, I’m calling it an “opportunity” now that I’m no longer expected to pick and shell beans). Every year, there are fewer and fewer farms in the state, especially those family owned farms that once provided most of the fresh fruits and vegetables for South Carolina families.
But now is a chance to show your kids what a working farm looks like.
The Midlands Farm Tour
will give visitors a chance to see 10 local farms from the downtown Columbia City Roots
and University of South Carolina community gardens
and Crooked Cedar
farms in Blythewood.
At Terra Kotta Farms
in Leesville, you will see how Scott and Alison Stapleton “harvest” rainwater. The small family farm sells vegetables, eggs and grapes they raise with captured rainwater. The family also sells their rain barrels as well as produce.
Heritage Fields Farm
in Irmo might be a familiar site to folks driving to and from Lake Murray
. David Derrick produces more than 30 varieties of seasonal vegetables and through the magic of hydroponics and greenhouses is able to produce lettuce year round.
The tour is co-sponsored by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
and Whole Foods Market
. Proceeds from the tour will go to support sustainable agriculture projects in the Carolinas.
Organizers recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes for walking around on a working farm. Bring a cooler to take home all the fresh produce, eggs and meat that you’ll want to buy.
You drive yourself between the farms and each farmer offers different options for visitors. You can visit the farms between 1 and 5 p.m. on April 6-7. You can download a map or use an online interactive map to help you plot your tour.
You just need one ticket per car and the ticket is good for both days. Advance tickets are $25 online or at Whole Foods. You can buy a tour button at the first farm you visit for $30 on the day of the tour.
So pack the family into your biggest car or SUV and show the kids what it’s like to live and work on a modern family farm in South Carolina.