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Let the Farm Tour Countdown Begin!

In just one month, on September 22 and 23, the gates and barns of 35 Western North Carolina farms will open for YOU during our annual Farm Tour! The self-guided tour offers you the chance to learn how food grows, taste farm-fresh products, interact with farm animals, and meet the community’s food producers.

It’s the first time we’ve hosted the event in the fall, and we can’t wait. “In late September, farmers will be able to showcase the widest array of products in their fields and hoophouses and offer that variety for sale,” shares Bridget Kennedy, ASAP’s Local Food Campaign program director.

The change also allows farmers with seasons starting in late summer to take part, including newcomer Justus Orchard in Hendersonville. “We’re very excited to be able to participate in the tour this year,” says apple orchard owner/operator Don Justus. “We welcome input. We like for people to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and we like to get other ideas from folks who might be farming in a different area or growing something in spring or winter that we could incorporate here,” he shares, adding, “During the tour, the apple harvest will be well under way, and we’ll hopefully be getting ready to harvest pumpkins.”

But the new season and farms—there are 14 new stops in total—aren’t the only new aspects of the tour. We plan to launch a brand new local food app, entitled Appalachian Grown and modeled after our Local Food Guide, just before the big event. The free mobile app will be available for iPhone and Android users and offer detailed information about participating farms, as well as tap into a phone’s GPS for help navigating a chosen tour route. Beyond the tour, the app will connect you with area farms and businesses that support local food. Want to test drive the new app? Find it soon by searching iPhone’s App Store or Android’s Google Play Store for “Appalachian Grown.”

Just how does the tour work?

1) Purchase a tour pass at select area businesses and tailgate markets or online; passes are $25 in advance.
2) Pack your car with friends and family. One pass admits an entire carload.
3) Grab a guide and set off to celebrate the region’s agricultural heritage! The tour runs 1-6 pm Saturday and Sunday. Tour guides are available from pass vendors and for download (PDF); guides include a map and directions, tour tips, information about our second annual Farm Tour Photo Contest (we hope you’ll enter!), and more.

Get lots more details, including information on volunteering and attending the tour for free, at asapconnections.org. And stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter accounts (linked at right), as well as this site, for farmer stories leading up to the tour.

Event sponsors are Greenlife Grocery and WNC Magazine. Other tour supporters are WNC Woman, Progress Energy, and ImageSmith. Friends of the Farm Tour are: The Market Place, Slow Food Asheville, Sunny Point Cafe, Wells Fargo Bank, and West End Bakery.

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