From Easter egg hunts and strawberry patches to educational workshops and goat yoga, North Carolina farmers have a variety of activities planned this spring to welcome visitors on their farms.
The number of agritourism farms across the state is on the rise. In the past 10 years, North Carolina has seen an 89 percent increase in the number of farms welcoming visitors. There are now more than 1,000 agritourism operations located from the mountains to the coast.
“Agritourism is a vital part of the state’s nearly $85 billion agriculture industry,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “It not only provides additional revenue for farmers, but also serves as a bridge between the state’s urban and rural communities. For many North Carolinians, agritourism is the only opportunity they have to learn about farming and where their food comes from.”
Following are some agritourism activities available on local farms this spring organized by region. Before visiting, guests are encouraged to contact the farm to confirm hours of operation and costs associated with specific events.
Western North Carolina
- Addison Farms Vineyard in Leicester will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special wine dinner Feb. 10 from 7-9 p.m. The fourth-generation farm also will hold a barrel tasting and farm lunch April 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Apple Hill Farm in Banner Elk will kick off its summer season with a Summer Open House May 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Walking tours will be available with the chance to meet alpacas, llamas, horses and other animals raised on the farm.
- Emerald Gate Farm in Waynesville offers ongoing personal tours of its one-man subsistence farming operation. Farm stays are also available. Registration is by appointment only.
- Franny’s Farm in Leicester offers private and public goat yoga classes year-round. Public classes are offered the last Sunday of the month at 1:30 and 3 p.m. In addition, the farm offers lodging on-site, hiking trails and a farm store that will open in mid-March.
- Mikell’s Farm Honey in Old Fort is open for tours throughout the year by appointment. Visitors can learn more about this award-winning honey operation and its organic beekeeping practices.
- Ridenour Ranch in Thurmond will have its annual Alpaca Shearing Day April 20 from 8 a.m. to noon. Visitors can take part in shearing alpacas and llamas. The ranch store also will be open for purchases of alpaca products and fiber directly from the animals.
- Shipley Farms in Vilas will hold an educational event for chefs and butchers April 16. Participants can learn about the farm’s pasture-raised meats and production. Guests must register by emailing Bob Shipley at be[email protected]
Central North Carolina
- Alpha and Omega Corn Maze in Hamptonville will host a Helicopter Easter Egg Drop March 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 20,000 eggs will be dropped across the 20-acre farm.
- Buckwheat Farm in Apex is celebrating its 20th year as a pick-your-own strawberry farm. Strawberries should be available from late April through early June. Hours are Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests are encouraged to call 919-303-0339 prior to coming to the farm.
- Dewberry Farm in Kernersville is a pick-your-own tulip farm. Visitors can walk through the tulips and purchase tulips by the stem. The farm plans to open March 24 depending on weather. Interested visitors are encouraged to check the farm’s website and Facebook account for more information.
- Gross Farms in Sanford will open its doors for strawberry picking from late April through early June. The farm is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the season.
- Karefree Produce in Carthage will have its Spring Open House May 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with pick-your-own strawberries, free product samplings, local crafts and a play area for children.
- Maple View Agricultural Educational Center in Hillsborough will offer a series of private group events from March through June. Each package includes two learning labs, a hayride and a barnyard tour. A minimum of 10 participants are required. Groups are scheduled by appointment only.
- Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur will open its doors March 2 for the 2018 season. Several special events are planned including an Easter event March 24, 25 and 31; a 5K/10K race April 7; and a Mother’s Day special May 12 and 13.
- Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse in King will have its Spring Open House April 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can tour the nursery featuring a wide variety of trees, shrubs and flowers. There also will be free hot dogs and door prizes.
- Patterson Farm Market and Tours in Mount Ulla will hold several spring events for the public. The fourth-generation farm will host its Eggcellent Adventure Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt on March 30 and Brunch with the Bunny event on March 31. The farm also opens for strawberry season mid-April.
- Plum Granny Farm in King will hold its annual open house and plant sale April 22 and 29 from 1 to 5 p.m. The farm, which is the only certified organic farm in Stokes County, will offer a wide variety of transplants including heirloom and hard-to-find varieties.
- Providence Farm in McLeansville will host its Open Farm Day April 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The N.C. Bicentennial Farm raises rare Leicester long wool sheep, North African fat tailed Tunis sheep and varieties of heritage poultry. During the open house, guests can meet barnyard animals, see demonstrations of artisan crafts and traditional skills, and purchase local food.
- Smith’s Nursery in Benson will have a Mother’s Day celebration May 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the event, visitors can pick their own strawberries, enjoy a lunch featuring local, healthy ingredients and get a special gift for mom while supplies last.
- The Hunter Farm in Weddington is celebrating 150 years of continuous operation as a family farm. The farm will offer strawberry picking, hayrides, a petting zoo, food trucks and music each weekend in May.
- Toms Creek Nursery and Landscaping in Farmer will hold two instructional workshops for home gardeners. The nursery, which has been in operation since 1932, will host Pruning Frenzy daily Feb. 19-24, from noon to 2 p.m. Hydrangea Mania will be offered June 9 from noon to 2 p.m.
Eastern North Carolina
- Creekside Fresh Pickings in Snow Hill offers school field trips and group tours starting in May, as well as pick-your-own strawberry patches.
- Simply Natural Creamery in Ayden will host an Easter Egg Eggstravaganza on March 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.