Category Archives: Farms Trails & Tales

snack-pack

Farm to You Snacks & Lunches for Back to School

It is that time of year again! Summer is on its way out and fall is preparing to make its debut as the kids head back to school. The days start to fall once more into a more predictable routine. For many families this time of year can be a welcome change. It can come with its challenges however. One being the ever popular question, “What are some healthy lunch and snack ideas that my kids will actually eat?”

Here in the Shenandoah Valley we are so lucky to have easy access to a wide variety of healthy and nutritious local foods. From our farmers markets to our farm groceries there is no shortage of tasty snack and lunch items to be had. Please see some of the creative ideas below. We think you and your kids will be pleasantly pleased. cheese-and-crackers-lunch

Cheese & Wheat Cracker Lunch with Melon Cookie Cutter Shapes, Carrot Sticks and Strawberries – Served up in a tray with its own separate little compartments, this lunch can be as visually pleasing as it is delicious and fun! Most of these items from the cheese to the berries,  can be found from local sources (depending on the season) at your local farm grocery or farmers market.

PB & J Wrap Lunch – Spread some almond butter and your kids favorite locally made jelly or jam on a tortilla and roll or fold it. Pack with grapes, cucumber slices and locally made apple sauce.

pb-j

Snack Pack Style Lunch – This allows for a little variety and might tempt your little tots to try something new. Pack nuts, their favorite fruit, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas, along with their favorite yogurt, half a nut butter and honey sandwich or some cheese sticks. Feel free to be creative with your options.

Give them four items that they love and one item to try for the sake of being “adventure”ous! Have a great 2017-2018 school year folks!

Facebook
great-valley-farm-brewery

A Toast to our Craft Breweries!

August is craft beer month in Virginia and we are taking the time to toast all of the talented craft breweries located on the Farm Trail. The craft beer scene has exploded in the Shenandoah Valley!  If you are looking for a farm brewery with a mountain view or a tasting room in the heart of a bustling city, we have plenty of each to choose from. And, whether you want to hire a driver, taste flights and compare flavors at more than one brewery or enjoy a pint after a brisk hike, the Farm Trail can provide the perfect local beer.

brothers

Many breweries also allow pets on the patios or other designated outdoor areas. Our craft beers are also the perfect accompaniment to most foods! Many of our breweries have on-site restaurants or partner with nearby  local restaurants or food trucks to make sure that your dining needs are met, and local music is a mainstay many evenings and weekends on the Trail.

Want to make a day of it? For a full listing of our craft breweries filter by “Winery or Brewery” on our meet the locals page and let your adventure begin! Cheers.

Facebook
bella

Stay Cool on the Farm Trail

 

Summer is in full swing on the Farm Trail! With the warm temps most of the  flowers, herbs, veggies and fruits are in full bloom. This means that the eats are at their best! Farm groceries and farmers markets are bursting at the seams with edible ripe deliciousness and Chefs at our farm to table restaurants are able to prepare some of their best dishes of the year with locally grown, seasonal produce.

This also means that we are at the height of mouth watering cold treat season! When out adventuring on the Farm Trail this time of year it is important to stay cool and comfy. Many of our venues provide you with just what you need to do that…read on:

Showalters Orchard & Greenhouse offers up a mean frozen apple cider slushie. Made from apples grown right in their orchard, this is a chilly and  tart/sweet treat that never disappoints. If you prefer something a little more grown up, try a glass of their ice cold and refreshing hard apple cider. It hits the spot every time! For more information on this incredible family run business go to www.showaltersorchard.com.

Pure Eats is your locally grown burger and shake mecca. It is hard to think of a more perfect all American summer meal than a locally grown beef burger topped with farm fresh lettuce and tomato, a side of fries, and yes! an ice cold milk shake. Pure Eats offers a variety of creamy and delightful shake flavors and every shake is made from cream straight from the Homestead Creamery! You cannot go wrong there folks. To find out more: www.pureeats.com.

Bella Gelato and Pastries located in Harrisonburg, VA is where you will find award winning gelato in many mouth watering flavors! It is made by hand on site, using milk from their friends down the road (who are also Farm Trail members!)  at Mount Crawford Creamery. Try one of their house-made waffle cones with a seasonally-flavored scoop of gelato, warm up with a cup of their spicy house-made chai, or take home a fresh loaf of oat bread to share with friends. Your taste buds will thank you! Visit them at: www.bellalunawoodfired.com/bella-gelato/

So much to do and enjoy at White Oak Lavender Farm and Purple Wolf Vineyard! To begin, they have many varieties of lavender to choose from out on the grounds, along with a meditation garden, animals to play with and a giant life sized chess set. The onsite shop is brimming with all things lavender – including lavender ice cream! Lavender blueberry is usually a favorite among visitors. You can also try a refreshing glass of lavender infused water, or if you are an adult that is so inclined, try a chilled glass of lavender infused white wine. It is sure to please! To find out more: www.whiteoaklavender.com.

Cave Ridge Vineyard is a family-owned and operated vineyard and winery located in the foothills overlooking the Shenandoah Valley, which is world-renowned for its scenic beauty and history. Low rainfall and deep rocky soils make this an ideal location for growing the highest quality grapes used to make Cave Ridge wines. Not only are they famous for their award winning wines, they are well known for their wine slushies! These tangy and flavorful summer coolers are available in both the red and white varieties and are a must try in the summer if you are wine connoisseur! Check them out at: www.caveridge.com.

And have fun staying cool out there!

Facebook

The Farm Trail Just Gets Better Everyday!

 

 

 

Four amazing new venues have recently joined the Fields of Gold Farm Trail and we couldn’t be happier to have them!

Meet Fox Hill Bed & Breakfast Suites, a magical place to get away! This a 38-acre countryside Bed & Breakfast retreat located midway between the Shenandoah Valley cities of Staunton and Lexington offers either B&B Suites or Kitchen Suites. They invite you to unwind and envelope yourself in the beauty and peace their lovely on farm lodging establishment has to offer. Enjoy beautiful mountain views while you delight in a 3 course breakfast. Their grounds provide endless opportunities to commune with nature: stroll in the shade along their spring-fed stream,  watch a Blue Heron fish for dinner in our two-tier garden pond and wander in their lovely gardens. When you are ready for more activity, you can romp in our meadows and walking trails with your favorite companions: Fox Hill Bed & Breakfast Suites has been recognized as a favorite pet friendly “doggie destination” in the Shenandoah Valley by Hampton Roads Magazine. We also have received a 5 bones rating at Bring Fido! fox-hill-bb-suites

A new addition at Fox Hill is a picnic area under a stand of Eastern Red Cedar trees. They invite guests to use the gas grill and picnic tables to cook out while staying at the B&B. For more info or to book your stay: www.foxhillbb.com.

Introducing  the Stonewall Jackson House. Discover the man who became a legend! The Stonewall Jackson House in historic downtown Lexington, Virginia is the only home that the famous Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson ever owned.

The house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is furnished with period pieces, including many of Jackson’s personal possessions, and is open to the public for guided tours of the period rooms. The house is owned and operated by Virginia Military Institute.

The museum’s mission is to preserve Jackson’s former home and its collections and educate the public by interpreting the life, character, and times of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. To find out more: www.vmi.edu.

Stonewall Jackson Family Portrait

Next up is The Market at Draft Inc. Located in Stuarts Draft, right off of Stuarts Draft Hwy,  is a true Farm Trail market treasure. When they opened in 1992, the goal was to provide their area with a higher quality food product along with the best service anywhere. They still offer this today and everyday to customers, friends and neighbors who have found this unique store with friendly personal service. They offer organic, all natural, gluten free products that are grown and produced locally! Follow them on Facebook.

the-market-at-draft-inc

Last, but certainly not least, meet Birdsong Pleasure Garden. They welcome you to their private gardens throughout the seasons. Birdsong Pleasure Garden allows visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of life while offering them a variety of picturesque gardens, mountain vistas, strolling paths, water features, and al fresco dining. It is a garden of pleasure and learning, relaxing yet filled with ideas to take home. Please call ahead to schedule your visit: 540-743-9389.

1600-va-org-birdsong-pleasure-garden

Facebook

Nature’s Candy

 

 

It is June and berry picking on the Farm Trail is in full swing! All this month, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are in season in Virginia. To find a full listing of berry farms go the the Meet the Locals page of our website and keyword search “berries” or “berry”. You can also filter by the “Pick your Own” category. Now that the kids are out of school for the summer, this is the perfect day outing! It is always a good idea to call ahead to the farm however, to make sure there are plenty of berries to be had. Some years they go faster than others. In addition, most of our farm to table groceries and farmers markets carry a variety of locally grown berries if picking your own is not your thing. black-raspberries

Farm fresh berries are not only a delicious summer treat, they are healthy too! Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, called anthocyanins, that may help keep memory sharp as you age, and raspberries contain ellagic acid, a compound with anti-cancer properties. All berries are great sources of fiber, a nutrient important for a healthy digestive system.

Berries are also versatile as they can be eaten alone in all their glory, or as an addition to waffles, oatmeal, or salads. They also make great desserts, jams, jellies, and popsicles. Hello summer!

For a refreshing mixed berry popsicle recipe, click here.

mixed-berry-popsicles

Facebook
farmers-market-history-blog

Who Knew Farmers Markets were Once Glamorous?

The Beginning

Fred Beck & Roger Dahlhjelm wanted to build a “Village” at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax  in Las Angeles, where local farmers could sell their fresh fare. E.B. Gilmore agreed to give it a go. In July 1934, a dozen farmers and a few other merchants parked their trucks at the corner of 3rd & Fairfax and sold their fresh produce from the back of the trucks.

Farmers Market Grows

By October 1934, mere months after it opened, farmers and merchants, including restaurants, grocers and service providers, were moving into permanent stalls and the new Farmers Market was so popular that its founders staged a celebration, the first Fall Festival at Farmers Market.
The Heart of the Market: Grocers

While it grew to be a must-see destination for travelers from around the world, Farmers Market was always the favorite place for L.A. families to shop for groceries. These two housewives were clearly dazzled by the fresh produce selections at the Market.

farm-history
We’ve Got Style

Over time, Farmers Market continued to grow. The structures, like this marvelous general store, were a part of modern Los Angeles and the Market always retained its own unique and quaint style, as this photo suggests.
All Grown Up

As the family car became preferred transportation in L.A., Farmers Market’s open spaces became parking lots. This is a glimpse of the past, an aerial photo capturing the cars of the time and the Market, all grown up.
World Famous

The Clock Tower became an icon of the Farmers Market in 1948. Over the decades, it has become a worldwide symbol of food and fun. This photo of the first tower (which now sits atop Starbucks) features the iconic phrase “An Idea”, a humble nod to Fred Beck, Roger Dahlhjelm and the 18 original tenants who helped forever shape the corner of 3rd & Fairfax.

The idea of the Farmers Market spread like wild fire from there and have consistently grown in popularity all over the country. Here in the Shenandoah Valley on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail we have no a shortage of Farmers Markets to choose from. They are still considered one of the best places to go for connecting with your local farmers and neighbors and for the freshest and tastiest edibles around! For a full listing of our farmers markets click on the farmers market box on the home page. Happy shopping!

Facebook

Two Watering Holes Join the Farm Trail!

 

 

Just in time for summer we have added two new Farm Trail stops where you can quench your summer thirst and nurture your appreciation for fine wine and/or craft beer!

First up, we have Woodstock Brewhouse. Located just off of Main St. in historic Woodstock the Brewhouse is a recently renovated industrial-age gem of a building. The owners of Woodstock Brewhouse are local Shenandoah Valley residents who all share a love for their community and a passion for craft brewing. They offer a wide variety of beers to wet your whistle with, from Blonde Ale to Brown Ale, to IPA’s to a Lager and even a Saison. There is definitely something for everyone! Is it grub you are looking for? The Woodstock Brewhouse is lucky to share their space with 1752 Barbeque, where you can get your hands on anything from beef brisket to pulled pork, and even sliced turkey or spare ribs. You will definitely not go hungry! For more information on this venue, check them out at: www.woodstockbrewhouse.com.

woodstock_brewhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is Muse Vineyards. They are a family owned and operated winery located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, also in Woodstock, Virginia. Each aspect of the growing, fermenting, pressing, aging and bottling of the wine is done on-site. The winery specializes in the production of premium wines inspired by the practices of the domaine wineries of France and Italy. Each aspect of the growing, fermenting, pressing, aging and bottling of the wine is done on-site. Beginning with carefully-selected estate grown grapes, winemaker Tim Rausse creates wines inspired by the old-world that showcase the remarkable quality and terroir of the Shenandoah Valley. For more information on this remarkable winery, visit: www.musevineyards.com.

muse_vineyards

Facebook

Big News for Agritourism!

 

 

“New Study Measures Economic Impact of Agritourism in Virginia”

If you are someone who enjoys getting away from the hustle and bustle virginia-agritourismof town and city living on occasion, you are not alone! It seems that more and more people are flocking to the countryside in their free time, whether it be for the simple beauty of the rolling hills dotted with red barns and white clap board farm houses or the many different experiences the farm has to offer. The Fields of Gold Farm Trail provides everything from traditional farm experiences like playing with farm animals or touring a dairy farm for example, to more unique experiences, like trekking with llamas, sipping on lavender infused wine or wildflower picking. The Shenandoah Valley is proud to be the third most popular destination in the state with many agritourism venues to choose from.

A new economic impact study shows that Virginia’s agritourism industry accounts for $2.2 billion in economic activity. The report also reveals that the economic activity attributed to the Commonwealth’s 1,400 agritourism businesses supports 22,000 jobs, contributes $840 million in income, and injects $135 million in state and local taxes. The study is the first statewide benchmark report to measure the economic and fiscal impacts of Virginia’s agritourism sector.

As previously mentioned, the Shenandoah Valley has the third highest concentration of venues according to the study, bringing in nearly $363 million in revenue. Thank you for supporting our amazing farms and farm businesses! See you on the Farm Trail.  You can read the full report HERE.

Facebook
fields-of-gold-picture

Discover Staunton & Augusta County

Discover the home-grown side of Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. Pick your own fruit in one of our orchards, stroll through a farmers’ market, savor a wine tasting, tour a working farm, celebrate at a farm festival, or feast on a locally-grown meal at one of our farm-to-table restaurants.

Farm Tour 1

A Better Way Farm
This small eco-farm and micro-dairy dedicated to sustainable farming offers “All About Goats” tour where you can meet and learn about goats and farming practices. And if you’re lucky, you might just be able to cuddle with baby goats during your visit. For a more hands-on experience, your group can try soap or cheese making. Also available are goat-milk products for purchase. 1-day-old-baby-a-better-way-farm

 

 

 

 

Stable Craft Brewing
Experience a true working farm brewery at Stable Craft. With opportunities to tour hop fields, visit with the horses, take a behind scenes look in the brewery and enjoy a tasting and lunch. There is a lot to see and experience at Stable Craft Brewing.  stable-craft-brewing

 

 

 

 

The Viette Gardens
Tour these beautiful gardens—open year-round—and explore the many different sun and shade gardens, a butterfly garden with brightly colored blooms, water gardens, rock gardens and hosta gardens—just to name a few. Get ideas for your own garden, talk to the experts and enjoy shopping in the Garden Center. For a personalized experience add a lecture onto your tour with a member of the staff. viette-gardens

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Tour 2

MeadowCroft Farm
Tour this pickle factory and the farm fields where they grow the produce for their all-natural pickles, relishes and spreads. Using no artificial preservatives, each item is made in small batches — hand-cut and hand-packed right on the farm. After your tour, peruse their shop, visit with the farm animals and tour their remodeled Inn. Also available for catered lunches.
meadowcroft-open-house

Polyface Farms
Known world-wide for their diversified farming techniques, Polyface farm is a leader in sustainable farming using no chemicals and feeding 6,000 families, restaurants and food outlets within a three-hour ‘food shed’ of their farm. Take a self-guided tour of their open farm and see the Egg-mobile, visit the turkeys in the Gobbledy-Go and shop in the farm store for pasture raised meat and eggs. Be sure to bring your cooler! polyface-poster-1024x682

 

 

 

 

Ox-Eye Vineyards
Head back to Staunton for a wine tasting at Ox-Eye’s tasting room in the historic Wharf District. With a focus on crafting high quality, food-friendly wines from grapes best
suited to the soil and climate of our farm in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Enjoy a tasting and explore the Wharf area with its many boutiques and artisan shops including Sunspots Studios. End your day with a farm-to-table meal at one of our restaurants downtown. ox-eye

 

 

 

 

Farm Tour 3

Cool Breeze Farm and Stables
Visit this family-owned working farm and horse stable whose mission is to raise animals and farm in a way that mimics nature. Come see their practices at work where animals are rotationally grazed and they’ve implemented a no-till, no-plow, no-irrigation gardening system. Bring a cooler (and cash or check) to pick up chemical-free produce, pasture/forest grazed pork, free-range eggs, and grass fed beef at The Market. cool-breeze-farm

 

 

 

 

Cross Keys Vineyard
Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, this family owned and operated winery sits on a beautiful 125-acre estate. With 30 acres of vines, CrossKeys grows 12 varietals of grapes all used to produce their award-winning wines. Go behind the scenes and learn about their different varietals along with how they press, produce, store and bottle their wine. This educational tour can be paired with a wine tasting and lunch. crosskeys-wine-and-chocolate-pairing-event

 

 

 

White Oak Lavender Farm
End your day at White Oak Lavender Farm and experience the relaxing properties of lavender. Take a private tour of this family farm growing 8,000 lavender plants in many varieties. Guests may pick lavender—when in season—attend a distilling demonstration and visit the drying barn to learn how the plants are harvested for buds and the essential oil is extracted. Groups can add-on a wine tasting and/or try their homemade lavender ice cream.white-oak-lavender-farm

Facebook
Church Hill Produce

Hungry for Spring?

Spring is a very special and busy time on the Shenandoah Valley Farm Trail. Farmers, farm animals and Mother Earth herself are happy to shake off the chill of old man winter and begin the blooming and growing process. Days are longer, warmer, and brighter. Spring fever is in the air. New life comes in the form of baby animals to snuggle and fresh fruits, veggies and herbs for our culinary pleasure! This is an exciting time for the visitor to the Trail, especially those who appreciate choosing, picking and/or just eating locally grown edibles. From now until the end of the summer there will be no shortage of ripe, fresh produce to choose from for snacks, meals, and seasonal recipes. Many farmers markets are now opening for the year and plenty of farms are revving up for fruit and veggie picking season! Is your mouth watering yet?

harrisonburg-farmers-market

For a seasonal produce guide for Virginia (What is in season when?) click here. For a full listing of our “Pick Your Own” farms or our many Farmers Markets sprinkled throughout the Valley, visit our “Meet the Locals” page and choose the category of your choice. You can even filter farm businesses by locality or by key word, like “strawberries”, for example. So go on and pull out those recipe books, and we will see you on the Farm Trail!pebble-hall

Facebook