Jackson farm and garden tour has it all

Farmers and gardeners in Jackson County are inviting the public to traipse through their garden rows during the third annual Jackson County Farm Tour and Garden Walk July 11 and 12.

Tour-goers get a brochure of the 16 participating farms and can make rounds at their leisure between 1 and 5 p.m. each day. The tour is put on by the Jackson County Farmers Market.

“The tour provides an opportunity for people who shop at the Farmers Market to actually see how the food they buy is grown,” said Susannah Patty, farmers market manager. “They will be able to walk through the fields, to see and touch the plants.”

The connection between the grower and producer is an important part of the local food movement, and “we want our customers to see our farms and know how we grow the food they buy,” said Cathy Arps of Vegenui Garden, one of the stops on the tour.

Those thinking of starting their own gardens will pick up tips and ideas. Between rising food costs and a bad economy, home gardens have seen a surge in popularity. Seed sales have increased 40 percent this year. Even President Obama and his family started up their own garden at the White House.

Several stops on the tour are backyard gardens where the hosts are willing to impart tricks of the trade, such as trellising techniques that maximize space.

The farm tour will not be without its share of animals, sometimes pressed into double duty. In addition to laying eggs, chickens help eat insects and weeds, fertilize and aerate the soil. Goats produce milk used in soap and lotion, or help keep hillsides cleared of brush.

Tour goers get their money’s worth at the Community Garden in Sylva, where 18 plots gardened by different people employ numerous techniques, from double digging to French Intensive to conventional row gardening.

“It’s like a one-stop, living garden encyclopedia,” said Ellen Boyd, director of the garden.

Other gardens are relatively new, and prospective gardeners can find out about the trials and tribulations of starting from scratch. Six gardens have been added to the growing tour this year.

Cost of the tour is $30 per vehicle for the weekend, $20 for one day, or $5 to a single farm. Proceeds benefit the farmers market.

Buy a ticket and get a brochure with directions to each stop at the Jackson County Farmers Market, Annie’s Naturally, Tuckasegee Trading Company, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, City Lights, Green Energy Park, Guadalupe Cafe, Mad Batter Bakery, Spring Street Cafe, WNC Internet Cafe, and Bubacz’s Underground.


Saturday Farms

• Union Acres Community Garden • Whittier

• Caroline Carr et al • Whittier

• The Community Garden • Sylva

• Steve Beltram and Becca Nestler • Balsam

• Brenda Bumgarner • Sylva

• Avant Garden • Cullowhee

• George Rector and Joan Byrd • Tilley Creek

• Pomme de Terre Farm • Tilley Creek

• Appalachian Homestead • Tilley Creek

• Registered Nursery • E. LaPorte

• The Great Outdoors • Tuckasegee


Sunday farms

• Shelton Family Farms • Whittier

• Vegenui Garden • Sylva

• Baldwin Sanders • Little Savannah

• Pomme de Terre Farm • Tilley Creek

• Shared Blessings Farm • E. LaPorte

• Dawson Green • Tuckasegee

• The Great Outdoors • Tuckasegee

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