Weekend adventurers took advantage of a phenomenal opportunity, Sept. 18-19, visiting area farms to get an up-close-and-personal peek at how local farmers bring their goods to market. The event, organized by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), is one of the non-profit’s favorite fundraisers.
This year, over 20 farms participated in the tour that was divided into five geographical clusters. Carloads of visitors got a chance to learn about livestock, creameries, fiber, flowers, wine and glamping.
“The 2021 ASAP Farm tour was a huge success. We had record ticket sales and people visited from as far as Florida to attend the tour,” said Erica Shanks, ASAP events coordinator. “We were excited to see participants connect with farmers, build relationships within the community and learn how to support local producers at market outlets after the farm tour came to a close. Connecting our farmers with their community and building support systems to buy local is something we value here at ASAP. We were happy to see that value in action over the weekend.”
At Mount Gilead Farm in Leicester, a new stop on the tour this year, organizers said the farm welcomed 325 visitors on Saturday and another healthy crowd on Sunday.
In addition to a guided farm tour, visitors had the opportunity to interact with the dairy’s creamery goats, sample local cheese, shop the gift store and check out the property’s two Airbnb suites.
Another new stop on 2021’s tour featured Smoky Mountain Mangalitsa, a mountaintop farm that raises an Old World Hungarian wooly pig that faced extinction in 2002.
Today, the farm sells chops, tenderloin, bacon, lard and other cuts harvested from happy pigs that are mountain pastured and sun-kissed.