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Local farms open up to the public for farm tours

Hannah Swayze • Updated Jun 24, 2018 at 12:08 AM

Local growers opened their farms to the public Saturday for the Farm Fresh Tennessee tours, giving members of the public a look at where their food comes from when they buy local.

"We like for everybody to understand where their food comes from, and the fact that you can buy this local, and buying local not only benefits the local farmer but ... also benefits the environment," local farmer Steven Stanley said.

Stanley and his family live on their six-acre farm in Johnson City where they raise unique varieties of fruits, vegetables and livestock.

On their farm, A Different Chick Farm & Orchard, they grow old, antique varieties of apples, tomatoes, heat-tolerant spinach and even what the family calls their "Frankenstein tree," which produces plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines.

The "Frankenstein tree" is also known as a "fruit cocktail tree;" it’s several trees  grafted together.

"We like to discuss everything, and we like to let people know that there are other options out there besides what everybody tells you that you can do," co-owner Tiffany Stanley said about giving tours of their property.

Other farms that took part in the tour were Serenity Knoll, Grand Oak Farm, Marigold Hill Farm and Gardens and River Creek Farm.

The Farm Fresh Tennessee Farm tours are organized by several groups, including the Appalachian RC&D Council, Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council, Appalachian Sustainable Development, Farm Fresh Appalachia and the participating farms.

"Farm tours are just another way to increase customer awareness about how important farms are to our local economy and give people another way to learn about agriculture and learn about how food is grown right here," said Emily Bidgood, executive director for Appalachian RC&D Council.

"We think it's good to be educated about local agriculture because it is a really important part of our economy and it's a really important part of our landscape," Bidgood said.

The tours will continue next Saturday with the Farm Fresh Virginia Tour of farms in Southwest Virginia beginning at 8 a.m.

To experience local agriculture, visit the local Johnson City Farmers Market Saturday and Wednesday mornings at Founders Pavilion. For more information about next week’s farm tour, visit arcd.org.

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