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Every fall, the small, independent farms in the Asheville area open their gates to the public for a special event. Each year the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) sponsors farm tours of properties that are not usually open to the public. This year, the event will occur September 21-22, 2013. The ASAP farm tours are a great way to learn more about independent farming, to gain insight into the daily lives of small farmers and sample their products.
In addition to ASAP's annual farm tours each September, there is a selection of small farms in the Asheville area that are open for touring. Many of these farmers request visitors call in advance to set up tours. Each is a working farm, either producing food and other agricultural products and/or raising livestock. Many grow using organic methods, some are historical sites, while others are great examples of sustainable living in rural areas.
For the convenience of guests of Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds, the selections for farm tours below are either in Asheville, or no more than one half hour outside of town. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of farm tours near Asheville. This selection does offer some insight into the unique aspects of each small farm.
Many visitors will have Biltmore Estate on their itinerary for a trip to Asheville. Included in the price of admission to Biltmore Estate is a visit to Antler Hill Village, a working farm where many experience farm life as it was in the early 1900s. Explore the kitchen garden during growing season and visit the farmyard to pet a variety of friendly animals. Antler Village was once an active work center, with many performing the daily chores of growing food and raising livestock to support those living on the Estate. Woodworkers and blacksmiths as well as other types of craftsmen also worked in Antler Village. Biltmore Estate interpreters are on site at Antler Village to answer questions and to oversee fun activities such as playing turn- of-the-century games or making crafts.
Situated on 200 acres of beautiful land in Farview, NC—just 20 minutes from Asheville—Hickory Nut Gap Farm is one of the most popular and beloved organic farms in the area. Last year, the farm welcomed 1900 visitors. Their products can be found in local health food stores and in restaurants throughout the Asheville area. At Hickory Nut Gap Farm, there are a plethora of activities for the whole family. In summer, visitors are encouraged to come pick blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. The farm also regularly hosts events like weddings and birthday parties, and children are encouraged to mingle with the animals, which include piglets, goats, and baby chicks. The farm store has a wonderful selection of all-natural, homemade foods, including cheeses, honey, jams, and 100% grass fed beef. Vegetables and organic apples are also abundant, and available in seasonal varieties. The farm is open all-year-round, with hours adjusted according to the season (check their website for details).
Located just 14 miles from Asheville, the family-owned Imladris Farm has been a Western North Carolina favorite for seven generations. The farm boasts an abundance of fruit, nut, apple, and plum trees, many over 50 years old. In the spring, visitors can walk among a profusion of gorgeous flowers and berry bushes, including raspberries and gooseberries. Farm tours are conducted year-round for just $6 per person. The farmers make products that are "nostalgically produced," so there are a multitude of wonderful jams, apple butters, and other homemade products available. Visitors can peek inside the farm's famous stone springhouse and visit with the goats and other animals.
The gorgeous Echoview Farm, is familiar to those in the Asheville area, mostly for its sustainable agricultural techniques. This means Echoview Farm makes the most of existing resources on the farm and reuses or disposes of waste in an environmentally friendly way. With its spectacular views, and contemporary approach to sustainable agriculture, it is one of the most visited farms in the Western North Carolina area. The farm harvests honey from bees and crops of hops to sell to local breweries and others. Echoview's farmers are committed to solar energy. The 2,400 square feet of solar panels installed on one of its slopes is one of the largest banks of solar panels in North Carolina. Echoview also regularly conducts school and civic expeditions, and encourages group and individual tours, which can be arranged by contacting one of its staff members.
Historic Johnson Farm is an all brick museum with outlying structures. The homestead was created with bricks fired from mud from the French Broad River. Dating to 1880, Historic Johnson Farm in Hendersonville is a museum well worth visiting and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a great example of an authentic 19th Century North Carolina family farm. The Johnson brothers bequeathed it to Henderson County Public Schools in 1987 and it was later opened to the pubic for tours of the main home and outbuildings, hiking on nature trails and visiting farm animals. Historic Johnson Farm is open Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. but in June and July it is closed Friday through Sunday. Guided tours are $3 for adults and $2 for students.
Book a fully appointed cabin in Asheville and take farm tour nearby. See you down on the farm!