Darlington County added to nation’s largest farm tour

Join the nation’s largest, self-guided free farm tour in Darlington County on June 4-5. See where your food comes from, watch artists in action, purchase something special, and learn more about rural life. The tour has welcomed more than 20,000 visitors since it began in 2012 with the mission to connect consumers with producers. The self-guided tour features local artisans, farmers markets, and working farms. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 5.

While Darlington County locations will be featured on June 4-5, eight other counties are participating as well. Also during the first weekend of June, Chesterfield and Horry Counties will hold their tours. On June 11-12, Lancaster and York Counties will be featured. On June 18-19, Kershaw and Fairfield Counties will be featured, and on June 25-26 check out Chester and Union Counties farms.

The month-long affair has blossomed from its origins in 2012 where Clemson University Cooperative Extension began the tour in York County in cooperation with the Olde English District and Catawba Farm and Food Coalition. The South Carolina Ag + Art Tour once fit into one weekend, but now spans the entire month of June. Each year, the team has added farms and counties, widening its economic impact, and it has doubled the number of participating counties in the last year.

“I was so jealous when I saw the Ag + Art passports and marketing materials last year, and I wondered how we could be part of such a great idea,” says Suzy Moyd, executive director of Main Street Hartsville and the event organizer. “Then, people and dates fell into place with supportive sponsors, a team of volunteer organizers, farmers and artists. With this level of enthusiasm, the planning has been easy, and I hope we can carry this on for many years as something the entire state can be a part of.”
As part of the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour, Darlington County hopes to capitalize on its rural culture and promote itself as a destination for tourists.

“Agriculture and tourism are the state’s two biggest industries, and Darlington County needs to take advantage of that,” says Lisa Rock, Director of Planning & Economic Development for the City of Darlington and Ag + Art Marketing Team head volunteer. “We support this project, and we hope to expand it in years to come.”

Stops on the Darlington County Tour include:

D1. Clemson University Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Rd., Darlington. Over 2,300 acres of crops (corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans, sorghum), and a large variety of vegetables, turfgrass, and newer bioenergy crops, gardens, forests and wildlife habitat, ponds and wetlands, a 150-acre lake, and an interpretive nature trail. 800 acres are used for research on improved crops to benefit SC’s economy. Special activities include a guided tour of Outdoor Education Trail at 10 a.m. June 4; a talk about The Importance of Natural Areas at 11 a.m. June 4; Wildlife Track Casting Activities at 11 a.m. June 4 (first come, first served, limited to 25 visitors); a talk of PDREC Research Crops at 2 p.m. June 4; and a guided tour of Outdoor Education Trail at 3 p.m. June 5. Artisan on Site: Stephanie Nix, painter, book binding and book binding demonstrations.

D2. Coker Farms National Historic Landmark, 1257 S. Fourth Street, Hartsville. A working farm as well as a national historical landmark dedicated to preserving the history of agriculture and the contributions of Coker’s Pedigreed Seed Company through the pioneering plant breeding efforts of David R. Coker and others. Artisans on Site: Black Creek Watercolor Group, watercolor painting.

D3. Greensward Vineyard, 2181 High Hill Road, Darlington. Explore our daily farm/vineyard operations, and be sure to come back later for our blueberries and muscadines. Artisans on Site: Aubree Ross, pottery, and Grace Ross, pottery.

D4. Kalmia Gardens, 1624 W. Carolina Avenue, Hartsville. A 35-acre public botanical garden and historic house on the National Register of Historic Places. A wide array flora and fauna marks the gateway to the 796-acre Segars-McKinnon Heritage Preserve. Artisans on Site: Lesha Petty and Pat Singletary.

D5. Le Farm, 1452 E. Bobo Newsom Highway, Hartsville. An all organic sustainable farm on 4.15 historic acres, with a southern plantation home, c. 1868, surrounded by camellias, japonicas and live oaks that are hundreds of years old. Grows blueberries, figs, pecans, and muscadines. Intoxicating scent from the lavender gardens. Fresh produce, magnolia and camellia plants, herbs and grapevine wreaths will be available on the tour for purchase. If the blueberries are ready, we will sell smoothies, too! Special activities include tours of the Plantation Home and Gardens at 2 and 4 p.m. June 4 and at 2 and 4 p.m. June 5. Artisan on Site: Theresa Gaylord, painter.

D6. Rogers Brothers Farm, 1901 East Carolina Avenue, Hartsville. Farms 8,000+ acres of cotton, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and corn. Visitors can see our high-tech farm equipment, fields, and crops being planted. Also grow, package and sell roasted peanuts. Available in 7 flavors at the farm and across the Southeast. Artisans on Site: Darlington County Photography Club, Photography.
D7. Teal Farms, 298 Cat Pond Road, Patrick. Organic tobacco farm with beautiful old tobacco barn. Special activities include a general talk about tobacco farming and rides into the field, on-going throughout the weekend. Artisans on Site: Caroline Cannerella and Jessie Childs.

Visitors are also encouraged to stop at local venues including: Black Creek Arts Council of Darlington County, 116 W. College Ave., Hartsville; Hartsville Museum, 222 N. Fifth St., Hartsville; Frame Moxie Fine Art & Custom Framing, 154 Mantissa Row, Hartsville; Hartsville Memorial Library, 147 W. College Ave., Hartsville; Seersuckergypsy, 211 N. Fifth St., Hartsville; and the Market on Darlington Square, 1 Public Square, Darlington, Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. only.

A kick-off, fundraising Wine and Cheese celebration will be held at RetroFit Sip-N-Seat, 152 Mantissa Row, Hartsville, from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. Tickets are $25.

For more information, visit www.agandarttour.com.

Author: Duane Childers

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