In a world where most of us “harvest” our food from a bin at the grocery store, June’s 11-county, 80-farm Ag+Art Tour will offer a chance to gain a better understanding of how our food travels from farm to table.
The concept was launched five years ago when York County was the sole county on the tour and only 18 area farms participated. This year, the Ag+Art Tour has expanded to 11 counties with about 80 farms featured.
Each weekend in June will feature a different list of farms to visit. Farms in York and Chester counties will be on display the second weekend, and farms in Lancaster County on the third weekend.
The “Ag” side of the tour will highlight the myriad activities associated with running a farm and producing food and drink. Visitors can learn not only about raising crops and livestock but also about making products such as cheese, cider, hot sauce, beer and honey. Visitors can buy products on site at the farms or at several farmers markets along the route.
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The “Art” half of the tour will focus on artisanal products, such as pottery, woven woolens and even historic cabins. Again, though, the emphasis will be on items that are handmade, using natural materials.
Interest is growing nationwide in farm-to-table consumption with food bought in season from nearby producers. People want fresh food, not food from thousands of miles away that is chosen for its durability rather than its taste or nutritional value.
More and more people want to know the source of what they eat and whether it has been treated with chemicals or growth hormones. When buying meat, they want to know the animals were raised and slaughtered as humanely as possible.
People also appreciate the intrinsic value of something that is handmade, something that is imagined, designed and shaped by a craftsperson who cares about the aesthetic quality of what he or she makes.
This South Carolina event is touted as the largest free farm and art tour in the nation. It’s a great opportunity not only to tour fams and meet farmers and artists but also to see more of the rural parts of the state.
The self-guided tour takes visitors to farms, markets, artists’ studios and artists’ demonstrations at agricultural sites. The tour runs 9 a.m.-5p.m. Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.
Participants can start at any farm, where they can pick up tour passport guides and other information. Details can be found at agandarttour.com.