Carol O'Meara - Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara – Colorado State University Extension

Feed piglets, go on a wagon ride, and learn about cold-hardy wine grapes during the Farm Around Boulder County Farm Tours, Sunday, August 13, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. In a Boulder County twist on the Parade of Homes, participating farmers are opening their doors and inviting the community to experience agriculture up close and personal.

“I’m hoping to create a deeper connection to local farms. Once you get out on the farms and see the fields or animals, you’ll understand the amount of effort, time, sweat and just how much work it is for farmers to create our food,” says Gretchen Heine, Founder of Farm Festivities, a local business with the mission to provide educational and fun farm events for all ages.  Heine hopes that when people experience farm life first-hand, they’ll understand the importance of local agriculture and the key role farmers play in our daily lives.

Each farm tour is offered at a specified time and people are encouraged to select more than one farm to visit. Choose from 12 farms offering a variety of experiences, such as meeting farm animals, digging into vegetable production, or rambling amongst wine grapes on a CSA. Transportation to each farm is up to you, but you can customize your tour choices for personal interest by contacting Heine for suggestions.

The Bike to Farms tour takes you from SkyPilot Farm with farmers Chloe, Greg and the lambs, ducks, pigs, and cows they raise. Cycle five miles west to McCauley Family Farms to sample delicious produce, enjoy the medicinal and culinary herbs gardens and tour the pastures where animals are holistically raised. Finish your afternoon learning about local wine at Stonebridge Farm. John Martin will discuss the pleasures and challenges of backyard viticulture and tour his beautiful vineyard.

Family-Friendly Farm Tours are designed to bring the kids for an afternoon touring Boulder County Farms. They’ll love the Sensory Garden Trail at Acres of Opportunity Ranch and meeting the resident chicken, goats, and horses at Three Leaf Farm. Learn how draft horses are used in the fields at Light Root Community Far and go for a wagon ride and feed piglets at Black Cat Organic Farm in Longmont.

“Kids often don’t realize where their food comes from. Providing a fun experience on a farm is a great way to start educating kids about the importance of supporting agriculture,” said Heine. Growing up on a farm in Central Oregon, Heine is passionate about agriculture education. “My dad began farming when he was 18, growing crops for seed and raising pigs. It wasn’t an easy life for my parents but it helped shape me into the person I am today. I have a great appreciation for the men and women that produce our food.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2012 census, Boulder County has 855 farms. Many farmers lease their land from the County, including a majority of the farmers on the tour. “When I began meeting local farmers and hearing their stories of why they chose agriculture, I was inspired to share that experience with others.” Many of the farmers on the tour are self-taught, first-generation farmers that see a better way of growing food and sharing it with their community. “We have two restaurant owners on the tour that grow the food they serve to their patrons. We also have farms that offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares through produce, milk, and meat.”

Tickets are $10 per person for each farm on the tour, and kids are admitted free. A portion of the proceeds will return directly back to participating farmers.  To purchase farm tour tickets, visit bouldercountyfarmtours.com. Find out more at Facebook.com/farmaroundbouldercounty, Instagram.com/farmfestivities.

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Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, or visit the web site at ext.colostate.edu/boulder.