Noble County Farm to Fork Tour
Would you like to learn how to hand-feed a buffalo? Did you know that lavender can soothe your palate? Do you know how sap gets turned into maple syrup?
Noble County’s countywide Farm to Fork tour – Indiana’s first – offers these interactive experiences while you follow your food’s journey from how it’s grown to how it ends up on your dinner table.
Promoting Local Products
The multisite agritourism activity partners area farmers with the Noble County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tour, which runs from March to October, promotes the products of local family farms in northeastern Indiana.
John Bry, a self-described former farm kid who is now executive director of the Noble County CVB, says organizers want to feed the public’s desire to know where their food comes from. “Starting in spring 2011, we explored the connection of farm to fork with Purdue Extension and area growers,” Bry explains. “We want to be a marketing outlet [for the farms] and share their stories.”
People want to eat healthy, he adds. “Many people want to grow their own food, and they can learn from the avenues we’re offering. This tour’s main ingredients are education and local availability.”
Feeding the Senses
Your senses will relish the tour experience from the heady scent of Lavender Lane, a Rome City farm growing a dozen varieties of lavender and producing soaps and potpourri, to the crisp freshness of Orchard Hill Farms, a 10,000-tree apple operation in Kendallville.
Another treat, the multigeneration Maple Acres in Avilla, offers maple sugaring and syrup-making tours. Organic Fox Trail Farm and DeCamp Gardens both grow vegetables and flowers near Chain O’Lakes State Park in Albion. Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville takes visitors on guided wagon rides for a hands-on experience feeding some of the ranch’s 300 bison.
New to the tour in 2012, Country Heritage Winery and Vineyard in LaOtto invites guests to sniff, swirl and sip its various vintages. Other farm stops highlighted in the fall feature pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
Fun for the Family
Erica Cook, Cook’s Bison Ranch tour director, says her farm fits perfectly with the new county tour.
“Bison is native to this country, and we’re showcasing what’s available and healthy,” she says. “Lots of people haven’t tried bison meat, so this tour is a great way to market it and get people to taste and enjoy it.”
And these tours have something for all ages. “We’ve had toddlers to wheelchair-bound elderly visit,” Cook says. “They’re in awe of being so close to the animals.”
Tour visitors can also explore the nearby Gene Stratton Porter State Historic Site and Sower Farmstead.
“We hope to create a farm-to-fork hub with a centralized market outlet for our producers there,” Bry says.
It’s an indication that, just like the food these farms produce, the tour will grow and flourish over the years.