Later this month, people in the Sandhills will get a chance to combine the two leading industries in North Carolina for an afternoon of fun with the 2011 Sandhills Farm Tour.
Farmers in Richmond, Moore and Montgomery counties will open their gates to visitors from all over on July 23, showcasing their products and services. Each farm has a speciality whether it is with local food or providing outdoor sports. Some of the farms will have cooking demonstrations and family fun activities. Visitors will be able to sample produce, ask questions about the farmer’s operation and share what they have done with their own farm.
The tour will last from 3 - 7 p.m. and admission per car load is $10 before July 23, and on the day will be $15.
Richmond County’s Ag Extension Agent Paige Burns said agriculture is “by far” still the leading industry in North Carolina, raking in around $70 billion in revenue each year. The second leading industry is tied between the Military and tourism; the latter of the two brings in $16 billion in revenue, “just a fraction of what agriculture does,” said Burns.
“North Carolina also leads the nation in agricultural land loss,” said Burns. “There are huge development pressures. As you know from the census, North Carolina has gained quite a bit in population.”
According to the 2010 Census, North Carolina’s population grew 18.5 percent; from just over 8 million people to 9.5 million in 10 years.
“All that farmers have of value is their land,” said Burns.
Now with economic strain and a quickly changing market, farmers are having to branch out into other avenues to support themselves.
“If you don’t control your market, you have the potential of getting destroyed,” said Burns. “Farmers need as many markets as possible - direct markets. It’s our capitalist system that is causing harm to our farmers. The big issues is not being able to make enough.”
You can help support farmers by visiting and appreciating their efforts. Farms on this year’s tour include Clayton Orchard in Candor, Hilltop Angus Farm in Mt. Gilead, Shadow Hill Farm and Kennel in Jackson Springs, Vang Farms in Troy, Dewitt’s Game Farm and Dewitt’s Outdoor Sports in Ellerbe, Triple L Farms in Ellerbe and Hope Farms in Mt. Gilead.
For more information on the Sandhills Farm Tour call (910) 576-6011.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.