Getting to know your local farms
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Most consumers may not know where the food they buy in the grocery store has been. The upcoming Know Your Farms farm tour will show consumers exactly how local produce gets from farm to shelf.
Wesley Shi and his sister Christy started the Davidson-based Know Your Farms in 2008. Their goal is to help increase farmer profitability and strengthen connections between consumers and food producers around the Charlotte area.
“We saw a disconnect,” Wesley Shi said.
“The tour allows a larger group to meet these farmers and see what they’re doing,” Wesley Shi said. “The main goal is to build awareness that there is a thriving agricultural community around our area.”
The Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, farms tour is the third and largest for Know Your Farms.
Vehicle passes for the self-guided tour are $25 in advance and $35 at the gate. Tickets include access to the 32 participating farms and a detailed map with information on each farm and local produce.
Barbee Farms will offer a 30-minute guided tour of the farm on Sunday.
Owner Tommy Barbee said his farm had an excellent experience with the tour last year, getting some continued business from participants. Barbee Farms is a Know Your Farms CSA provider.
Those who go can see hydroponics lettuce production and solar panels in the cow field at the 8-acre Rivendell Farms, owner Jeffie Hardin said. Children will help plant crops and pet the goats and cows. Hardin will be selling eggs and homemade bread.
More than 100 locals currently participate in Know Your Farms’ Community Supported Agriculture. Small-share participants pay $20 a week and large-share participants pay $35 a week for a share of the bounty produced by local farms. Egg and meat add-ons are available.
Those in attendance understand that they will receive only what is fresh, seasonal and available. While they might not be able to plan on broccoli every week, they know that the produce they receive is the best available and hasn’t been off the plant for more than two days.
Most grocery store produce is picked four to seven days before landing on a grocery store shelf and shipped 1,500 miles from where it was grown, according to
Know Your Farms picks up food from participating farms every week and distributes food to Community Supported Agriculture participants and sells produce from several permanent locations. Their newest permanent farm stand is in the parking lot of the Huntersville Earthfare, Wesley Shi said.
Know Your Farms distributes a mix between certified organic and conventional produce. Food travels less than 100 miles and contains no antibiotics or hormones. Chickens are all free-range and produce is usually picked the same day it is delivered.
“This area has a lot of producing agricultural land,” Wesley Shi said. “We feel a sense of urgency to really get the word out to eat local.”
Since the economic downturn, local food prices are more comparable to grocery store prices, local produce is higher quality and fresher than shipped produce and buying locally keeps food dollars in the community, Wesley Shi said.
“Farmers are businesses that need regular support, not just buying one thing a week, if you want them to stay,” Shi said.
Know Your Farms also brings volunteer teams to local farms, often from businesses for team-building and to help local farmers. Know Your Farms is an official volunteer organization for Bank of America and Carolinas Healthcare Systems.
Wesley Shi usually coordinates one to two projects a month, each lasting around three hours. Volunteers have put in fence posts, repaired fences, built pastures, moved animals, cleaned ostrich pens, planted and harvested.
“Pretty much anything they can think of that can use extra hands for a couple hours, they’ll put us on,” Wesley Shi said.
Visit www.knowyourfarms.com for tickets and more information.
Local farms participating Saturday
• Proffitt Family Farms – 150 Old Home Pl., Kings Mountain
• Stowe Dairy Farms – 169 Stowe Dairy Road, Gastonia
• Lewis Farm – 330 Lewis Road, Gastonia
• Maple Springs Farm – 906 Dallas Stanley Hwy., Dallas
• Apple Orchard Farm – 640 Mariposa Road, Stanley
• BirdBrain Ostrich Ranch – 6691 Little Mountain Road, Sherrills Ford
• Gilcrest Natural Farm – 1164 Lowes Ln., Iron Station
• Rivendell Farms – 9715 Kerns Road, Huntersville
Local Farms participating Sunday
• Perry Farms – 613 Perry Road, Troutman
• KC Farm – 277 Midway Lake Road, Mooresville
• Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm – 4335 Atando Road, Concord
• The Farm at Dover Vineyards – 3220 Concord Pkwy S, Concord
• Barbee Farms – 1000 Shelton Road, Concord
• Big Oak Farm – 6565 Beaver Road, Kannapolis
For a full list of all the farms participating visit www.knowyourfarms.com