Garden Variety: Kaw Valley Farm Tour returning soon

The 16th annual Kaw Valley Farm Tour will be held as planned on Oct. 3 and 4. The self-guided tour of local farms is an opportunity to meet farmers, learn about locally produced agricultural products and see ag production practices firsthand.

The bulk of the tour is outdoors with plenty of room to practice social distancing, and farms are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of attendees. Farms and tour organizers are asking attendees to wear masks. All displays and seating areas will be distanced, and tractor rides will be limited to one party at a time. Instead of handing out paper surveys, farms will keep a visitor log — if you provide your contact information for the log, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a basket of farm products.

You’ll need a ticket for the tour — it costs $10 and will get you into all of the farms on the tour. You’ll also need to plan your route ahead of time, because the tour is self-guided. After that, you can just show up at the farms during tour hours. When you arrive, park your vehicle, put on your mask and follow the guidance of each individual farm regarding things to see and activities. Farms may have educational displays, animals to feed, equipment and production areas to view, products to purchase, hayrides and special activities for kids.

This year, there are nearly 30 locations to visit. A few longtime participants are taking the year off, but many are returning, and there are six new stops on the tour this year.

Participating farms grow a variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers; raise all kinds of animals for meat, milk, eggs and fiber; tend bees for honey; and create value-added products from the things they raise and grow such as wine, canned goods, dairy products, soaps and lotions. Some farms set up pumpkin patches, corn mazes and other attractions. Read over the farm descriptions in the ticket booklet or online to find the best fit for your party.

Experienced tourgoers suggest planning to visit four or five farms per day, and to be prepared for the travel in between. Although the farms are all in the same general area, there is some driving and many farms are located on unpaved roads. Watch for signs, follow the map and use navigation services to help guide you in unfamiliar areas.

If you plan to purchase fresh products, make sure to bring a cooler to store them in. You can either pack a lunch and snacks or plan to arrive at one of the farms that offers food around mealtime. Leave pets at home to avoid concerns with farm animals.

Tour hours for 2020 are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4. If wineries are on your route, remember that Kansas law prohibits liquor sales before noon on Sundays.

New farms for 2020 are Grinter’s Sunflower Farm, JET Produce and Meats, TNR Hills (produce and homemade breads), Trivedi Wine, Z&M Twisted Vines Wine and Winery, and a Eudora-area private garden that offers produce and catfish.

Purchase ticket booklets in advance in Lawrence at The Merc, 901 Iowa St., or K-State Research and Extension of Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. On tour weekend, tickets can also be purchased at any participating farm.

You can also buy tickets online at kawvalleyfarmtour.org. Online purchasers receive a ticket booklet at the first farm they visit when they show their receipt, or they can pick up the booklet in advance by showing their receipt at the K-State Research and Extension office.

All proceeds from ticket sales support the expenses of organizing and advertising the tour and printing of the ticket booklets.

2020 tour stops

Stops in bold are new to the tour this year.

Ad Astra Alpacas

Blossom Trail Bee Ranch

Country Road Farms

Crescent Moon Winery

Clearfield School heritage site

Dancing Cow Farms

Dragonfly Farm

Davenport Orchards & Winery

Grinter’s Sunflower Farm

Happy Valley Farm

Holy-Field Winery

JET Produce and Meats

Lamborn Farm

Lazy R Ranch

Meuschke Farms

9 Mile Farm

Next to Nature Farm,

Pendleton’s Country Market

Private garden — Steven Bogler

Rowe Ridge Vineyard & Winery

Shooting Star Equine Rescue

South Baldwin Farms

Sweetlove Farm

Trivedi Wine

TNR Hills

Vesecky Family Farms

White Tail Run Winery

Z&M Twisted Vines Winery

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