How much do you know about the alpacas, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, live Christmas trees and other fab finds in North Carolina? We're talking here about hundreds of farms, wineries, agricultural festivals and bed and breakfasts you can visit in your travels.
Well, if you need to find out more, you should get a copy of Farm Fresh North Carolina, a statewide guide to all the farms and other cool agriculture-related places you'll ever want to visit in the Tar Heel State.
Even a "chocolate lounge!" (The cacao's not local, but the fruits, berries, honey, eggs and milk they use for their truffles come from nearby. And this guide is all about North Carolina agricultural products and buying local.)
It's written by my friend and fellow travel writer Diane Daniel. The food editor of The Washington Post, writes: "Her exhaustively researched guidebook will make you want to jump in the car and plan an entire getaway celebrating the family farm."
Exhaustively researched indeed. I spoke with Diane a few times while she was on the road, driving to the far reaches of North Carolina to spend the night at a working farm or sample wine from local grapes.
After 23,000 miles touring farms, she is certainly the farm-fun expert! For the book, she did write-ups of 425 of the places she visited over two years.
While she was writing the book I wondered how different the entries could each be. They're farms. Farms are farms. Right?
I was so very wrong. It's amazing how many different places there are to visit and Diane's entries are unique and enticing. How about: "You won't hear many local farmers say, 'I fell in love with goats in Iran, but that's what happened to Della Williams.' " (Sleepy Goat Farm)
Or, "If your shopping list goes something like this: collard seeds, two live turkeys, and a pressure cooker, you need to make only one stop--Renfrow Hardware and General Merchandise in downtown Matthews."
She offers information on stores, restaurants, vineyards, pick-your-own orchards, farmers' markets, Christmas tree farms, ostrich ranches (they lay two-pound eggs, them birds do!), a brewery where they make sausages and so much more.
These sound like great places to go solo. I imagine myself wandering and shopping, poring over fresh fruits, jams, wines and vegetables. I don't like to keep people waiting so I often prefer "shopping" on my own. I want to take as much time as I like and then leave when I'm ready.
If you're planning a trip to North Carolina, you can buy the Farm Fresh North Carolina guide on the Farm Fresh site.
If you happen to live in North Carolina, you can find a list of all the places Diane will be appearing to sign copies of her book. If you're somewhere else, you can sign up to receive blog emails and follow along as she goes from event to event and farm to farm.
If you do get to some of these off-the-beaten-path places, write and tell us what you saw, found, pet, bought, rode, chopped or picked!
Photos by: Selina Kok
1. Alpaca nuzzles Diane at Bedford Falls Alpaca Farm in Warne, Clay County.
2. Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Waynesville (Haywood County) offers choose-and-cut trees as well as lodging in historic cabins.
3.Guest chef Sam Poley puts the final touches on the goat-cheese appetizer at Dinners on the Porch, hosted by Elodie Farms in Durham County.
Photo by: Diane Daniel
4. Uli Bennewitz of Weeping Radish Farm Brewery in Beaufort County explains the sausage-making process.