Upstate Farms Offer a Fresh Perspective

For the seventh year, area farms are opening their gates June 1-2 for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association's Upstate Farm Tour. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market, this tour allows farmers and participants to share their passion for fresh food and the local community.

Area residents and their communities benefit as area farms grow. Because farmers do not have to worry about a two-week delivery route, they are able to focus on flavor rather than durability. In turn, this provides a more delicious product for their customers. As a result, we're more likely to eat fresh vegetables. In addition to fresh delivery for customers, farmers who deliver locally have a positive impact on environment by decreasing the distance trucks must travel on the road.

When someone buys fresh produce or other local farm products at an area farmer's market, the money stays in the state longer than when buy produce shipped into the state. According to Diana Vossbrinck of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, one dollar spent with a local farmer is re-spent three to seven times in the local community. As local farmers are successful, South Carolina is able to preserve its farmlands, part of our defining heritage.

Each year, the Upstate Farm Tour includes new farms for tour participants. This year, Happy Critters Ranch, a sustainable livestock production; City Scape Winery, with unique wines from grapes, berries, and more; and Carolina Aquaponics, lush hydroponic gardens each offer new insight into the fresh options of South Carolina. 

Diana emphasizes the importance of the farms to the tour while highlighting additional tour offerings: "While the farms themselves are the stars of the tour, we are offering a few extra activities."

In addition to the farm visits, participants can enjoy farm-to-fork meals prepared by Swamp Rabbit Cafe at Red Fern Farm or by Grits & Groceries at Friends Farm & Catering. Then make a stop at Greenbrier Farms for dessert served up by Marvelous Pies. Slow Food Upstate will offer two "Beef, Guilt Free" workshops during the tour, too.

After guests check out the farms, enjoy dinner, and participate in a workshop, they can gather with other participants Sunday night at the Swamp Rabbit Cafe for a Farm Tour After Party Concert, hosted by Gardening for Good. The concert will be free and include vendors with food, crafts, and more.

Advanced farm tour tickets are $25 per carload or cycle group, good for all farms throughout the weekend. Advanced tickets may be purchased online at http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/uft or at Whole Foods Market in Greenville.  Tour guests may also purchase tickets for $30 at the first farm they visit.

Photos provided by: Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Jamie Gillenwater's writing focuses on her Upstate community, technical communication, and corporate training. She serves as the chairperson for Connect Young Professionals, is an active member of the Society for Technical Communication's Carolina chapter, and participates in the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce Women's Leadership Council.