BRIDGEVILLE, Del.– Residents and visitors to the First State often enjoy the beauty of the farms lining the roads throughout the state, but few are aware that many of these farms are ready to host eager and interested guests. But making that connection has gotten a little easier.The Delaware Agritourism Association launched its newest statewide agritourism trail on Tuesday, April 24, at TS Smith & Sons Farm in Bridgeville. The Farm Adventure Trail showcases 15 working farms and agricultural sites poised to offer authentic farm experiences from June through August this year.
Gov. Jack Markell was on hand to share his enthusiasm for the effort.
"The Farm Adventure Trail should thrive in Delaware," he said. "It helps farmers grow and succeed while opening the gates of their fields and doors of their barns to the public. Agriculture is a vital element of our Delaware economy and agritourism helps strengthen it."
Representatives from the General Assembly, agriculture and tourism groups, economic development, as well as national, state, and local officials were on hand to share in the enthusiasm for the group's endeavor.
Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee praised the initiative. "Agritourism is good for family farms and our economy, helping strengthen our tradition of agriculture here in Delaware," Kee said. "But it also helps families make their own traditions, whether enjoying ice cream on a dairy farm, picking strawberries to take home and make into shortcake, or visiting a horse up close and personal."
Farm visitors can experience you-pick produce, petting zoos, floriculture, dairy-made ice cream, and animal production in addition to festivals, special events, and tours.
Greer Stangl, the group's president, noted that people are increasingly interested in knowing more about where their food comes from and how it is grown, adding, "The rise in the popularity of farmers' markets parallels the rise in interest in visiting our farms. Unlike a retail experience alone, our members open their farms to the public, offering tours, demonstrations, and interaction with the farmers and producers who bring the product to market. A real dialogue develops and connections are made that add value to the entire retail experience."
The Farm Adventure Trail identifies activities offered during the peak growing season. It will be followed in September by an updated Harvest Trail for 2012, featuring on-farm experiences for September through December. Stangl adds, "Since a farm is very seasonal in nature, what is offered can different from season to season and farm to farm. We want to help folks identify farms that welcome visitors and offer programs and products to enjoy."
The organization hopes the trail leads visitors to new locations and experiences throughout Delaware, while promoting agriculture and its important role.
For more information, visit the Delaware Agritourism Association online at www.delawareagritourism.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail, PO BOX 222, Georgetown, DE 19947.
Farm Adventure Trail
Bobola Farms & Florist
Coleman's Tree Farm
Fenwick Wine Cellars
Good Earth Farm Market
TS Smith & Sons
Willow Rock Gardens
Woodside Farm Creamery