PHOTO: Matt Barton
September is traditionally the time to celebrate the splendor of the harvests. So what better way to do that than to throw a free Follow the Food farm tour Sept. 21 in Lexington, which is what the Fayette County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is doing.
A committee made up of Fayette County extension agents, community partners and local organizations planned the tour, which is based on one the Kenton County Extension office has hosted for the past few years.
“We wanted to highlight a lot of the little-known farms or urban agriculture sites that are around Lexington,” said Delia Scott, Fayette County horticulture agent. “The tour will give people an opportunity to see inside some of these places that aren’t usually open to the public.”
The self-guided farm tour kicks off officially at 9 a.m. at FoodChain, 501 W. Sixth St., with a free “sampling” breakfast. Participants will be able to taste a wide variety of foods provided by Good Foods Co-op, the Lexington Farmers Market and Bluegrass Farmers Market. Breakfast items will be available for purchase at the various sites along the route. Also during the breakfast, organizers will explain a bit more about the sites and distribute tour maps.
All agricultural sites on the tour are located within Fayette County, with four of them downtown. COLT trolleys will run about every 20 minutes from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, carrying participants to the four downtown sites from the High Street parking lot across from Rupp Arena, where parking is free.
The trolley stops will include:
· FoodChain. Tour the state’s only commercially scaled indoor aquaponics system and observe fish and plants growing together in a closed system.
· London Ferrill Community Garden, 250 E. Third St., between Elm Tree Lane and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The nonprofit organization Seedleaf has been growing fruits and vegetables at the garden since 2008. CLUCK!, Cooperative of Lexington Urban Chicken Keepers, will also be on-site to show off their members’ city chickens.
· 4th Street Farm, 262 E. Fourth St., at the intersection of EastFourth and Elm Tree Lane. This is a unique example of using organic and permaculture principles in small-scale urban agriculture. On a tenth of an acre, the owners have berries, fruit trees, vegetables, chickens and bees.
· Lexington Farmers Market, Cheapside Park Market, Fifth Third Bank Pavilion, located on Main Street between Upper and Mill streets. This is Lexington’s oldest and largest farmers market, and tour participants can shop for fresh fall produce, mingle and meet dozens of local growers and sample seasonal dishes prepared by a local chef.
Other stops on the self-guided tour include:
· University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm, 4320 Emmert Farm Lane, located on the southwest corner of Nicholasville Road and Man O’ War Boulevard, across from Lowe’s. This is a rare opportunity to tour 25 acres of certified-organic production and learn about the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s research and the student-run Community Supported Agriculture program. Guides will lead tours at the top of every hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
· Bluegrass Farmers Market, 3450 Richmond Road, in the parking lot of Pedal the Planet. This is Lexington’s largest 100 percent homegrown-produced farmers market. Everything sold is grown, raised, baked, made or produced by the people who sell there. Tour participants can shop for fresh fall produce and meet local growers.
· Botanica, 6327 Old Richmond Road. A great destination for the family. Kids can pick and decorate their own pumpkin, or explore a corn maze, a petting barn, tire playground and other play attractions. Their shop is filled with fall and Christmas decorations for the home. Some activities may have additional fees.
· Kelley Farms, 6483 Old Richmond Road. Explore 10 acres of Central Kentucky’s original Giant Corn Maze, as well as a pumpkin patch, hayrides and Billy Goat SkyWalk. Some activities may have additional fees. Participants of Follow the Food Farm Tour get $2 off matinee admission.
· Bleugrass Chèvre Goat Dairy and Cheese Plant, 1175 Grimes Mill Road. (Due to construction on Grimes Mill Road bridge, access is only available from Athens-Boonesboro Road.) Get nuzzled by the friendly Bleugrass Chèvre goats and take a tour of the cheese plant to see how goat cheese is made. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy under the trees or buy a brown bag lunch or a scoop of goat cheese sorbet on-site.
· CRAVE Lexington, MoonDance Amphitheatre at Beaumont Circle, 1152 Monarch St., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Enjoy a food and music festival that celebrates all things from scratch. The festival includes cooking demonstrations, lots of food to sample, live music from Bollywood to bluegrass to blues, a Best Home Chef Competition; and meals prepared by local chefs. Some events are ticketed.
Follow the Food Farm Tour is sponsored by UK Cooperative Extension Service, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Kentucky Agriculture Development Board, Extension Master Gardeners, Blue Grass Community Foundation, Fayette County Farm Bureau and Good Foods Market and Café.
For more information, visit http://fayettecountyfarmtour.com.
Delia Scott or Jamie Dockery, 859-257-5582