Pick a peck of produce
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