Mt. Sterling Family Farms Thrive With Growing Agri-tourism

By Laura Hill on May 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm EST
Two Sisters Pumpkin Patch

PHOTO CREDIT: Wes Aldridge

A growing number of Mt. Sterling farmers have found agri-tourism to be a hardy export.

A concept that’s rapidly changing the way many farmers across the country do business‚ agri-tourism brings visitors – and customers – to the farm from the local area and farther afield. The result is an economic win for small farmers and the community, too.

“People want to see the farmer’s quality of life‚ their environment‚” says Lynda Wilson‚ director of the Mt. Sterling-Montgomery County Tourism Commission. “And this is also a great way to learn. Kids think pumpkins come from a box at the grocery store‚ but here they can see how things really happen.”

Bramble Ridge Apple Orchard, open from early July through mid-December, houses about 2‚600 apple trees offering 13 varieties of apples including cameo‚ Cortland‚ Fuji‚ gala‚ gingergold‚ golden delicious‚ Granny Smith‚ Grimes golden‚ honeycrisp‚ jonagold‚ pink lady‚ snapp Stayman and Spartan.

It’s an all-things-apple paradise‚ where agri-tourists come from spring to late fall to tour the farm‚ pick apples and feast on homemade apple jam and pies‚ apple cider slushies‚ fresh cider donuts‚ Blackjack cider and Wapples – waffle cones filled with warm apple filling and ice cream. Each April the farm hosts an Arts in the Orchard celebration‚ and October brings the annual Apple Butter Festival.

Two Sisters Pumpkin Patch is a fall favorite with families who come to explore a corn maze‚ buy gourds‚ pumpkins and fall flower arrange­ments‚ and enjoy farm animals.

At Hickory Springs of Montgomery Daylilies‚ visitors can see flower farming in action.

Glen Berger’s G & R Freshwater Shrimp farm sells at farmers’ markets and offers pond-side pickup at shrimp harvest time.

And Townsend’s Sorghum offers straw­berries‚ blackberries‚ sweet corn and a stocked fishing lake‚ not to mention its award-winning‚ homemade sorghum that’s finding a growing niche with area inns and restaurants.

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