Pick a peck of pro­duce

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

hair­cut, called shear­ing.

“We want peo­ple to be able to come and learn about the al­pacas and get hands-on,” Reeder said. “It’s one thing to call and talk about them, but if you can ac­tu­ally come touch them and squeeze them and love on them, we wanted to open it up to that side of thing so there’s more pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

The next step for Ap­ple Moun­tain Al­pacas is an on-farm store, full of goods made from the Reed­ers’ al­paca herd fiber and some im­ported from Peru, where al­pacas orig­i­nate. Reeder also said she plans to of­fer classes to teach vis­i­tors how to use al­paca fiber.

Farm work­shops are also a fea­ture at White Oak Pas­tures in Bluffton. White Oak is home to beef, pork, lamb, goat, rab­bit, geese, guineas, ducks, turkeys, chick­ens and a host of pro­duce. Jodi Benoit, agri­tourism man­ager, said it’s been in her fam­ily since 1866. White Oak first started of­fer­ing $10, hour-long walk­ing tours sev­eral years ago, and as peo­ple’s in­ter­est in know­ing where their food came from grew, so did the de­mand for farm vis­its. Now, in ad­di­tion to the walk­ing tour, there’s a horse­back tour and lodg­ing. Overnight agri­tourism at White Oak is more suited to cou­ples or fam­i­lies with older chil­dren, as much of the tour is self-guided through the work­ing farm.

“You wouldn’t think that peo­ple would want to come spend the night in Bluffton,

Le­wallen’s farm is no stranger to agri­tourism — Jae­mor was a farm stop since In­ter­state 985 was paved in 1981.

“Be­cause shop­ping at Jae­mor is an ‘ex­pe­ri­ence,’ we’ve al­ways been an agri­tourism des­ti­na­tion, even be­fore the term came into use. We have hosted school groups in some shape, form or fash­ion at Jae­mor for some 20 years,” she said.

In ad­di­tion to its reg­u­larly open farm mar­ket, where vis­i­tors can take home pro­duce grown on the farm and from other Ge­or­gia pro­duc­ers, Jae­mor of­fers spe­cial event pick-your-own days in the spring and sum­mer, plus a fall corn maze that runs from Septem­ber to Novem­ber.

Carter is the fifth gen­er­a­tion to farm his fam­ily’s prop­erty in Henry County. The farm went from row crops to a dairy and now has beef cat­tle, hay and plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies to pick their own fruits and berries. South­ern Belle Farm also of­fers a farm mar­ket and fall corn maze, plus there are also plenty of kid-friendly things on the prop­erty, in­clud­ing hay rides, a cow train and pedal cars.

“We de­cided to open the doors up to the pub­lic in 2006,” Carter said. “We have our spring sea­son, which in­volves you-pick straw­ber­ries. Eight acres; folks come out and pick their own fruits. We go from straw­berry to black­berry, blue­berry and peach, which starts Me­mo­rial Day week­end.”

No mat­ter what type of farm Ge­or­gians want to visit, Carter said the im­por­tant thing is to ac­tu­ally talk with farm­ers and get in­for­ma­tion straight from the source — not al­ter­na­tive facts ped­dled on the in­ter­net. Le­wallen echoed his sen­ti­ments.

“We be­lieve in be­ing trans­par­ent, hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with con­sumers about their food and food choices, and agri­tourism opens the door to have di­a­logue with our cus­tomers,” Le­wallen said. “We would not still be farm­ing if it weren’t for them.”

—Jake Carter, owner of South­ern Belle Farm in McDonough

May 12, 2017

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