Joining us today is Erin Frederick from Penn State Extension. She’s with us today to discuss the upcoming Northampton County and Lehigh County Open Gate Farm Tours this month.
Erin, could you give us some background on these events?
Sure, both the Lehigh and Northampton County Open Gate Farm Tours have been annual traditions for over 40 years. The tours originally began to show city residents what life is like in the country and hopefully it would inspire them to have a greater appreciation for the farmer. So each year, Lehigh and Northampton County farmers essentially open their gates up to the public and let them get a taste of local agriculture.
When are the tours?
This year the Northampton County Open Gate farm tour is scheduled for Saturday, October 12th & Sunday, October 13th and the Lehigh County Open Gate Farm Tour is scheduled the following weekend on Sunday, October 20th. Both tours are from 1 to 5PM. There is no charge to visit any of the farms, so it’s a great way to spend a fall day. And you’ll have two opportunities – if you miss the Northampton County weekend, you’ll be able to catch the experience in Lehigh County.
How many farms are participating?
There are 19 Northampton County farms and 20 Lehigh County farms participating this year and there are a variety of farm types, including dairy and grain operations, orchards, vegetable growers, plant nurseries, horse farms and even a winery. Many of the farms are offering educational tours, hayrides, food samples, pumpkin picking and painting, campfires, pony rides, cider press demonstrations, and the list goes on.
The farms are scattered throughout both counties, so no matter where you live, it should be a relatively quick drive to at least get to one.
Why is this event so important?
The farm tours are probably more important today than it ever has been since we have children in the Lehigh Valley that have never seen a real cow and don’t know where their milk comes from. It’s really important to have that connection for a healthy community. And recently, there has been a very big push to support our local farmers. Local produce is fresher, it’s not travelling thousands of miles to arrive on your dinner plate, it keeps the farmers in business and it really does benefit our local economy as a whole. So get out there on October 12 & 13th in Northampton County and/or on October 20th in Lehigh County, enjoy yourself and say hi to your farmer.
Where can I find more information?
You can find detailed descriptions of the activities each farm is offering along with a map and directions at extension.psu.edu/Lehigh or extension.psu.edu/Northampton. Just click on Events and you’ll see a listing for the Open Gate Farm Tour. You can also call the Lehigh office at 610-391-9840 or Northampton office at 610-746-1970 to receive a hard copy of the brochure.