Visitors will get an inside look at working farms at the 11th annual Jefferson County Farm Day on Saturday, June 16 open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Farm Day is a free self-guided tour of local, active farms. The purpose is to educate the public about farms, farmers and farmland. The event is sponsored by Jefferson County Farm Bureau, Potomac Headwaters R, C & D Council, the Jefferson County Development Authority, the Eastern Panhandle Small Business Development Center and the WVU Jefferson County Extension Service.
Jane Tabb, Farm Day organizer, stated that one of the most vital aspects of the event is public education about farming. A farmer herself, she said that many people may not realize that farming is not always profitable, and that a closer look at the nuts and bolts of farm life will help others realize what goes into running a farm.
"It's a way of life, it's fun, but it's also a business," Tabb said.
Tabb has chosen four farms this year; The Ridgefield Farm and Orchard, Bloomery Plantation Distillery, Charles Town Farmers Market and Coleswood Farm. Although she says that the selection process is based on who is available, she still likes to have a good mix of traditional and non-traditional farming.
The Ridgefield Farm and Orchard in Harpers Ferry is owned by Alan Gibson and Dr. Scott Beard, professor of music and Dean of Graduate Studies at Shepherd University. The farm features an apple orchard, flower cutting garden, pizza garden, a pirate ship and train for children to climb and the Ridgefield Country Store.
The farm is opening early for the event which offers visitors the chance to see the various seasonal attractions of the farm during their development stages.
Gibson said, "The take-away is letting people see behind-the-scenes."
Gibson stated that visitors can watch the apples in the early stages of development in the orchard, see the Christmas trees before they are sheared into the familiar Christmas tree shape and discuss how the corn maze is designed. He also hopes that visitors will appreciate the work going into a small farm operation.
The Bloomery Plantation Distillery has only been open for nine months, but business partner Rob Losey is excited to show off its unique brand of farm life.
"It's a nice opportunity to show off what we do, entertain, as well as give an idea there are non-traditional ways of farming," he said.
The farm's main crops are lemon trees, raspberries and "hooch." On Farm Day, visitors to the Blommery Plantation Distilelry can listen to live music, bring a picnic, stroll the grounds or engage in complimentary tastings.
Tabb said that the Charles Town Farmers Market was a "natural choice" since it has recently moved and been renamed. The hours will be extended for Farm Day. The market will feature vendors, live music from 10 a.m. to noon and various activities throughout the day.
Coleswood Farm will be featured on the tour for a second time. It is a Thoroughbred horse farm where visitors can watch the mares and foals frolic in the fields or work out in the Equi-Gym.
Tabb says that the farmers who are involved are invited to dinner and receive a sign that says "Farm Day" for their commitment. She says that their involvement is motivated by a sense of community.
"They're really doing a huge community service," she said.
For more information or to download the brochure, go to www.jeffersonfarms.org