Garden Variety: Get ready for the annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour
The 15th annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour is next weekend, Oct. 5 and 6. The farm tour is a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the diversity of agriculture in the region, meet area farmers, and learn about the practices of raising various crops and animals. This year, the tour has grown to 34 farm stops in the Lawrence and Douglas County area. Seven of the 34 farms are new to the tour in 2019.
Most tourgoers visit a handful of farms during the tour rather than racing around to all of them. You might be most interested in learning about vegetable production, seeing alpacas, taking a hayrack ride or tasting wine at the wineries.
The tour hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 6.
Tourgoers are encouraged to buy tickets in advance. Tickets for the tour are $10 per car. Carpooling is encouraged.
Many of the participating farms have concessions available for purchase or activities for kids. Some will also have their products available for sale, or will offer things like special tours, hayrack rides, demonstrations and live music.
The farm tour is organized by Douglas County K-State Research and Extension, the Lawrence convention and visitors bureau, The Merc and participating farmers, many of whom have been with the tour since the beginning.
Tour coordinator Laurie Shuck, who works with K-State Research and Extension, says the best thing about the tour is the farmers themselves.
“When someone really loves what they are doing, the passion comes through,” she said.
One thing that sometimes surprises first-time tourgoers is the diversity of agricultural products.
You might go expecting to see cows, chickens, hay bales and a few row crops. You most likely will see those things, depending on the farms you choose to visit, but there are many more things to see on the tour.
For those who like animals, there will be cattle and chickens, but you can also tour farms with ponies, ducks, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and bees.
For those interested in fruit, vegetable, herb and plant production, there are opportunities to see all kinds of produce and plants. Also of interest are greenhouses, unheated hoophouses, trellising, harvest equipment and packing rooms.There are also eight wineries on the tour this year.
A few participating farms have more traditional agriculture, such as row crops and small grain production. One farm on the tour, Juniper Hill Farms, even has an industrial hemp research plot as part of the state’s pilot program this year.
Many farms have products available for purchase — jams, jellies, cider, honey products, goat milk products, soaps, candles, scarves, gloves, socks and more.
“Agriculture has so many faces now, from traditional to niche,” Shuck said of the variety on the tour.
Most farms have a mix of things available to see and experience. Even farms that have been part of the tour before are always changing, whether it is adding new products or simply improving the way they do things.
“Every farm evolves a little bit from year to year,” Shuck said.
Tourgoers are encouraged to bring coolers in case they wish to purchase perishable farm products. They are also asked to leave pets at home.
When you arrive at a participating farm on the tour weekend, remember that these locations are people’s homes and businesses. Participating farms do their best to accommodate tourgoers and participate because of their love for their work and desire to help others learn about it.
Proceeds from ticket sales are used to offset the costs of printing the ticket booklets, advertising and organizing the tour. The tour is also sponsored by the local businesses that are featured in the ticket booklets.
To find out more information about the tour or to purchase tickets, go to kawvalleyfarmtour.org.
Tickets for the 2019 Kaw Valley Farm Tour are $10 per car and can be purchased at kawvalleyfarmtour.org or at any of the following locations:
• The Merc, 901 Iowa St., Lawrence.
• Lawrence Visitors Center, 812 Massachusetts St., Lawrence.
• K-State Research and Extension offices, 2110 Harper St., Lawrence.
• New Frontier Tax and Business Services, 810 High St., Baldwin City.
• Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce, 720 High St., Baldwin City.
• Ad Astra Alpacas
• Amy’s Meats
• Big Springs Berries*
• Blossom Trail Bee Ranch
• BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery
• Bramble Rose Farm
• Coal Creek Farms
• Country Road Farms
• Crescent Moon Winery
• Davenport Orchards & Winery
• Dragonfly Farm Design*
• Glaciers Edge Winery (Wakarusa)
• Happy Apple’s Farm
• Happy Valley Farm
• Haven Pointe Winery
• Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery
• Juniper Hill Farms
• Lamborn Farm
• Lazy R Ranch*
• Manna Meadows Alpacas
• Meuschke Farms*
• Midnight Farm*
• Next to Nature Farm
• 9 Mile Farm*
• Pendleton’s Country Market
• Red Tractor Farm with Washington Creek Lavender
• Rowe Ridge Vineyard & Winery
• Shooting Star Equine Rescue (Wakarusa)
• Silver Dollar Farms
• South Baldwin Farms
• Sweetlove Farm*
• The Henrys’ Plant Farm
• Vesecky Family Farms
• White Tail Run Winery
* Indicates new farms for 2019
— Jennifer Smith is a former horticulture extension agent for K-State Research and Extension and horticulturist for Lawrence Parks and Recreation.