Western NC tour includes agriculture

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 29, 2015

By Darrell Blackwelder

For the Salisbury Post

When one thinks of the Asheville and the western North Carolina area, your immediate thoughts may be of scenic mountains and cooler temperatures.

While this is very much a part of this area, did you know that this area is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the Southeast? Ample rainfall, fertile soils and temperate weather make this a haven for many horticultural crops.

The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Initiative Committee recognizes this and has organized a three-day educational tour of Western North Carolina agriculture in the Asheville area, Aug. 2-5.

Participants will travel by bus to various farms and production facilities in the Asheville area and learn about both traditional and non-traditional horticultural crops and their marketing potentials.

One of the major tour stops will be a visit to the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/ at Mills River.  This is a large horticultural crops research station featuring scientists and research from N.C. State University.

Various crops from new apple production techniques to exploring the new world of hops, grown for beer as well as organic food production are featured at this stop.

Another major tour features a behind-the-scene visit to the Biltmore House vineyards, a staple in North Carolina wine production, as well as a visit to the Western North Carolina Farmers Market http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/asheville/findmkt.htm.

This outdoor regional farmer’s market is one of the most popular western N.C. tourist attractions as well as one of the largest of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture’s markets providing fresh produce and other goods throughout the region. These are just a few of the educational tours planned for the event.

Cost of the tours is $250 plus hotel for Rowan County Chamber members and $275 plus hotel for non-Chamber of Commerce members.

For hotel reservations please contact Laurie Shuping at Shuping Travel at 704-279-4530 or laurie@shupingtravel.com. Cost for the hotel room for the three nights is $362.97. Deadline for your reservation is July 2, so act now as spaces are filling fast.

You may contact the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce at 704-633-4221 or info@rowanchamber.com for more detailed information about this tour.