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Dicy McCullough: Get to know real farms

Have you ever been face-to-face with an ostrich? Well, if you decide to go on the Third Annual Know Your Farms tour this weekend, you will have a chance to do just that. Know Your Farms is an organization based in Davidson, with Wes Shi as the owner. This business has the goal of helping local farmers market their produce, meat and eggs. The tour, scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., provides one way of reaching this goal.
The 2011 tour features a diversity of local sustainable, organic and family farms, including fruit and vegetable growers, livestock producers, mushroom producers, a vineyard and even ostrich and alpaca farms. Many of the farms on the tour offer fun children’s activities such as hay rides, pony rides and petting zoos. Farm fresh lunches, snacks and live music are also available at some stops.
Thirty-plus farms are on the tour this year, including Birdbrain Ostrich Ranch, Barbee Farms and Landis Gourmet Mushrooms. People can visit these farms for the cost of a pre-paid vehicle pass of $25, or $30 at the gate. Even if the vehicle is a bus, the price is the same as for a car. The self-guided tour includes a map and allows consumers to see firsthand what occurs on a farm. Everything the farms usually have for sale will be available for purchase during the tour, thus allowing interaction between consumers and farmers. Although there are many interesting farms on the tour, one of the more unusual might be the ostrich farm in Sherrills Ford.
I had the opportunity to visit this farm recently and enjoyed the ride down N.C. 150 past Mooresville. I stopped in at the Terrell Country Store for directions. The owners of the store, Joe and Judy Rose, were friendly and told me once I turned on to Little Mountain Road off N.C. 150, the ostrich ranch would be just a few miles on the left. Their store, built in 1891, was stocked with homemade pies, cookies, candies and baked goods. I couldn’t resist a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels, but I only had time to eat one because Joe and Judy were right, the ranch was just a few minutes from the store. I enjoyed my visit at the Birdbrain Ostrich Ranch and thought the baby birds were especially cute. If you happen to get lost on your way, stop in at the Terrell Country Store. They’ll be glad to give you directions.
It’s great people like Wes Shi are concerned about farms and farmers and want to help them. Wes says because of the economy, many farmers now have second jobs in order to pay their bills each month. These second jobs often cut into time they should spend on the farm. Wes wants to help get the farmer back on the farm by bringing in more customers. You can help by going on the tour. Before starting out this weekend, though, be sure to pack a cooler for farm-fresh goodies because you’ll want to take some home. Also, don’t forget to bring along lots of family and friends. It’s a given you’ll have fun. More information about Know Your Farms tours and ticket information can be found on the website, www.knowyourfarms.com. Wes wants to be a part of the solution. How about you?
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Dicy McCullough is a children’s author who lives in Rowan County. Contact her at 704-278-4377 or her website, dicymcculloughbooks.com.

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