Enjoying the bounty of agriculture and beauty of the outdoors is what the annual spring and fall Loudoun Farm Tour, in Loudoun Country, Va., is all about. With about three dozen farms and wineries participating, it’s easy to find something everyone can enjoy. The fall tour is Oct. 17–18, 10:00am–4:00pm.
Wine aficionados can join the wine tasting at the Philomont General Store with owner Madeline Skinner, where they can choose from 150 wines and beers to take home or try any of the wineries, which are conveniently interspersed near the farm stops. Several farms offer pick-your-own produce, sell meat and poultry, and give specialized tours and hands-on animal encounters.
My family enjoyed the spring farm tour immensely. During the course of an afternoon, my 5-year-old daughter, Gabby, was kissed by an alpaca, picked fresh strawberries, fed a flock of chickens, and gathered eggs.
Our first stop was Butterfly Hill Farm Store, where the owners had set up two corrals with alpacas from their nearby farm. You could pet and learn about the alpacas, see the weaving and spinning demonstrations, and admire beautiful clothes made from alpaca wool in their store. It was a learning opportunity, because we got to see what happened to the wool — not just pet the animals.
When we got to Chicama Run, we made a pit stop to enjoy their barbecue, which had amazing-smelling hamburgers. Our favorite was the homemade cherry pie.
Next, we were off on the hayride around the farm, where we saw geese and free-range chickens. We signed up for the egg tour. The farm’s owner led us on a walking tour to see cows and goats, and then took us to the henhouse. Gabby fed chickens and collected brown eggs that we turned into cookies and omelettes at home. Fresh eggs and meat were for sale in their store.
We wanted to pick strawberries, so we went to the new Wegmeyer Farms strawberry patch at Oatlands. What a treat! I got a $5 ticket for me (Gabby was free) to ride the hay wagon out to the field (brilliant idea; it would have been a long and hot walk). Tyler Wegmeyer drove the wagon and told us the history of strawberries at Oatlands, which were grown in the 1810 greenhouse on the grounds.
Fall Farm Tour
More than 45 farms, wineries, breweries, and rural businesses will participate in the Fall Farm Tour. There will be new tour stops in all three categories: farms, craft beverages, and special events. A few highlights include:
The 800-acre certified organic and certified humane farm, committed to traditional farming values, will have heritage breed livestock on display and a beekeeping demonstration.
Bridle Paths at Stone Horse Farm
This nonprofit offers support and healing to individuals and families through high-quality equine-assisted activities and therapies. Learn about equine communication and horse body language. Enjoy horseshoe painting, horses bobbing for apples, and barn trick-or-treating.
You can see the future of agriculture with the high-density, environmentally friendly growing system. Learn about chemical-free vegetables and certified all-natural beef, pork, and lamb grown on the farm.
This old dairy farm, with its historic stone manor home, bank barn, milking barn, and silo, is transitioning to a flower farm. A flower-arranging demonstration with local flowers will be offered.
Lost Corner Farm at Mom’s Apple Pie Hill High
Learn how to use pumpkin meat in a variety of ways and the nutritional benefits of pumpkins and other foods grown on the farm. There are ongoing pumpkin preparations throughout the tour weekend.
Mark your calendars for the spring farm tour, scheduled for May 21–22, 2016. (loudounfarms.org/farmtour)