Culpeper Harvest Farm Tour features new welcome center
© Culpeper TimesThe 15th annual Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour this year features a different welcome center, a farm new to the event and everything from alpacas to a vineyard.
The farm tour will be Oct. 6 and 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. It is free to the public.
When visitor's check in at the welcome center they can pick up a brochure containing a Farm Tour “passport.” During the tour, visitors should have their passport stamped at each site they visit. Those who accumulate at least five stamps and take a brief survey are eligible to win door prizes. Passports can be returned to the welcome center or mailed to the county economic development office at: 233 E. Davis St., Suite 300, Culpeper, 22701. Entries must be received by Nov. 1.
In past years the welcome center has been downtown at the Depot, but a conflict on Sunday brought about the move to Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises on Route 29.
“It has worked out great, because The Agricultural Enterprises (facility) is very visible from the highway,” said Lori Loy, business development coordinator for the Culpeper Economic Development Department. “And we have Ironwood Farm joining the tour this year.”
Ironwood Farm in Rixeyville specializes in the breeding, training and sale of Norwegian Fjord horses. It is the largest farm featuring this draft breed in Virginia, encompassing 132 acres.
The farm tour provides both educational and economic benefits.
“It is of tremendous value for a number of reasons,” said Carl Sachs, Culpeper County economic development director. “The main purpose is to provide an educational experience to folks who might not know what goes on on a farm – what the process is and what it takes to raise a product on a family farm. It's a good opportunity to show one of our traditional businesses.”
Sachs said about 50 percent of the visitors to farms are from out of the Culpeper area. That provides an economic boost, as well.
“There is direct value in what people spend here at restaurants and buying things at a farm,” Sachs said. “There is also the indirect value of introducing people to the variety (of farm products) available here, as well as the quality of life in Culpeper. The farm tour paints Culpeper in a very positive light.”
Jim Charapich, president and CEO of the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce agreed.
“We treasure the agricultural community and are very interested in preserving the farms that make up our countryside at the foot hills of the Blue Ridge,” said Charapich in an e-mail. “Among our farm community are some of the sharpest entrepreneurs, hardest working agribusinesses professionals and most friendly families. Culpeper's Farm Tour is a great way to see both traditional farms and high tech agribusiness.”
Variety is the theme of the Farm Tour as the traditional definition of a farm is expanded to include stables, a distillery, mineral springs, Christmas trees, a nursery, vineyards and a railroading club. Two farm supply stores are also part of this year's tour.
“The Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District staff will be at Crazy Joe's Christmas Tree Farm on Carrico Mills Road,” said Stephanie DeNicola-Turner, educator with the SWCD. “The Harvest Days Farm Tour is a great family-friendly event that reconnects people to the family farm.
“Whether a farm grows grass, cattle, dairy products or grapes for wine, farms are an integral part of the Virginia economy. We are so fortunate in this area to be able to know the farmers that produce the foods we eat. Participating farms also show what they do to protect the water, soil and air of Virginia, which makes our Commonwealth a great place to live.”
Carl Stafford, agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension, noted the economic value to the Culpeper area.
“It's good for tourism and economic development,” said Stafford in a phone interview. “(Typically, expenditures) are $20 to $30 per person, so that has a real economic impact. A lot of people come, spend money and go home. And while they're here they improve their agricultural IQ and that, to me, is important.”
Lori Sorrentino, director of the Culpeper department of tourism, stressed that the event is family friendly.
“It's a great way to draw families to the area and for them to learn about the real connection between farming and caring for plants and animals and where their food comes from,” she said in an e-mail. “It's also important to promote our rich agricultural heritage so we can sustain it for the future and draw on it to contribute to our local economy now.”
There are more than 600 working farms in Culpeper County.
Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour Venues
Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises welcome center
10220 James Monroe Highway (Route 29 South)
Andora Farm and Stables
17275 Germanna Highway (Route 3)
Belmont Farm Distillery
13490 Cedar Run Road
Berry Hill Farm and Mineral Springs
22533 Berry Hill Farm Drive, Elkwood
CFC Farm and Home Center
825-2200, ext. 302
15172 Brandy Road
10075 Stone Bridge Road
5229 Homestead Trail, Reva
Crazy Joe's Christmas Tree Farm
18028 Carrico mills Road, Elkwood
Culpeper Tractor Supply
588 Culpeper Town Square
12340 Robin Road
10291 Homeland Road, Rixeyville
9272 Big Horn Road, Remington
Liberty Hill Farm
18185 Liberty Hall, Brandy Station
Morningside Farm and Nursery
7855 Griffinsburg Road, Boston
Old House Vineyards
18351 Corkys Lane
47 Dearing Road, Flint Hill
10623 Gravel Road, Brandy Station
11278 Homeland Road, Rixeyville
5167 Jeffersonton Road, Jeffersonton