The Blue Ridge Mountains are dotted with farms producing everything from Christmas trees to trout. Fruit, flowers, herbs, jams, jellies, pies, wreaths and other crafts are all produced right here in the mountains. And what better way to social distance this year than to enjoy the fresh air of a mountain farm?
There are many reasons to support local farmers, like knowing exactly where and how your food is grown. It’s also a great way to support the local economy and small businesses. Supporting local food systems helps ensure that multiple crops are grown on farms; growing crops in a monoculture (a single crop or livestock species grown at a time, usually for a long period over a large acreage) may lead to plant diseases and farming practices which may be harmful to the plants, soil, wildlife and pollinators. And preserving small farms helps protect our farmland and farming heritage for future generations. Plus, visiting farms and orchards and markets is fun and educational!
As you travel the Parkway, there are several ways that you can experience local farms. The easiest might be to stop at a local farmers market or orchard to check out local products. There are many working farms where you can often meet the farmer, pick produce, and experience a farm adventure such as a hayride, corn maze or petting area. Or you might head to a nearby agricultural area where there are farms and orchards and farmers markets that you could visit and meet the growers and artisans. There are also historical farmsteads available for touring that show how farming has changed over the decades (and make you thankful for modern conveniences like refrigeration!). But the most immersive method of learning about farming is to experience a farm stay. Farms along the Parkway offer everything from a Bed & Breakfast stay with a scratch-made breakfast to a luxurious retreat at a resort farm. You could meet a Nubian goat, or not; it’s totally up to you!
Whatever way you to choose to support local farms this Fall, we hope you have a safe and fun experience!