Jefferson County residents and visitors as well are gearing up for the 12th annual Farm Day event coming up on June 15. The event, according to founder Jane Tabb, "was created as one way to introduce people to agriculture, create an understanding of the business and the value of agriculture to the local economy and landscape."
The Farm Day concept began, Tabb said, back when development was prominent in the county and there were pressures by those moving to the county to eliminate offensive smells and sounds of farming.
"Many folks moving to the county were offended by these normalities of farming. These farms were now their neighbor, she said.
"People didn't like the slow moving tractors on the roadways. So, I hoped we would all learn how to be better neighbors--farmers not spreading manure during a family picnic next door or house residents not dumping over the fence into the farmer's field," she continued.
This year's event has four farmers or agricultural entities opening their homes and businesses to the public. On the tour this year is the Appalachian Fruit Research Station located at 2217 Wiltshire Road,
in Kearneysville. The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific in-house research agency whose job it is to find solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day, from field to table.
The facility focuses on the critical problems of fruit production. Numerous research project demonstrations will be set up to showcase challenges and possible solutions.
This station also houses the national center for stink bug research.
Another stop on the self-guided tour is the Dubble 'R' Farm, home of PonyXpress Pony Rides and Pony Playdates.
Owner Suzie Binns loves horses of all sizes and shapes and her farm features donkeys, miniature horses and Racking horses. Binns competes with her Racking horses and offers pony rides for kids at all sorts of events.
Pony Playdates allows kids to come to the far for pony rides and other interaction with the animals while PonyXpress takes the ponies to an event.
O'Sullivan Farms located at 1504 Earle Road, is a showplace for Thoroughbred racing horses. Founded in 1939, the farm is the oldest and largest Thoroughbred farm in the state. The 165 acres offer 31 horse paddocks, a breeding station, 72 horse stalls and a new hay storage facility.
Owner Randy Funkhouser represents the farm's third generation.
A treat on the tour this year is Mountain View Polo, located at 261 Falcon Ridge Drive in Charles Town. This venue offers scenic vistas and is the only arena polo facility in the area.
Open since 2011, the farm offers polo lessons for all ages and experience levels including beginner clinics and summer camps. Owners Laura Goddard and Hugo Pasten train thoroughbreds off the race track for sale as polo ponies or for use in lessons.
As part of the day's events, a polo game will be demonstrated as well as a practice "walk through" of a game open to public participation.
Farm Day, which showcases these local, active farms, is a way to educate the public about farms, farmers and farmland by offering a glimpse into the varieties of agricultural operations in the county.
Sponsored by the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, the Potomac Headwaters R, C & D Council, the Small Business Development Center of the Panhandle and the WVU Jefferson County Extension Service, the event is free and open to the public. Attendees are asked to supervise children while on the tour and to respect the privacy of the farmers and visit only on the day of the tour.
For more information, contact Tabb at 304-725-4325 or visit www.JeffersonFarms.org.