Category Archives: Farms Trails & Tales

Small Business Saturday on the Farm Trail

Get up, get out and #ShopSmall by celebrating #SmallBizSat with our members! Skip the long lines and crowds of the big box stores and make a difference in your community by shopping at small businesses to find unique gifts centered around local products.

Need some ideas? Visit our website and type what you are looking for in our member  search bar. You will get a list of all our members offering those products.

Here are a few inspirations:

Rocktown Gift Shop PhotoGift baskets are a great choice for family and friends who like to entertain or an easy idea for coworkers and business associates. Include cheeses, meats, sauces and jellies, local wines, handmade chocolates and other festivity friendly foods.




goatBody and home goods are readily available at farmers markets and our members’ retail stores. Think goat’s milk, honey and beeswax-based beauty products, soaps, lotions, balms and candles.





Holiday decorations are another option to prepare for the upcoming season with the perfect evergreen embellishments! From picking out your very own Christmas tree to beautiful evergreen wreaths, roping, kissing balls, loose greens and much more!




There are plenty of options for holiday gifts from our members. Remember, when you purchase from our farmers, you create an economic ripple that encourages and strengthens our community.

Sipping Ciders



Cider Week Virginia is coming up, November 10-19, and we have the lowdown on what to check out on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

There are two member cideries participating:

Big Fish Cider in Monterey, VA micro cidery in Moneterey, VA making cider with traditional apples, traditional techniques and a completely new flavor.




old hill hard ciderOld Hill Cider in Timberville, VA

www.oldhillcider.comOld Hill Cider is located on one of the oldest orchards in the Shenandoah Valley-Showalter’s Orchard. Sarah and Shannon’s family has been growing apples on their Old Hill for over 50 years. The Showalter’s are working to revive an American Tradition…crafting cider in a way that the Colonial Cidermakers of early America would be proud to drink and to serve.




And several events

Inn- Cider Dinner – featuring Big Fish Cider Co.

Saturday, November 11 at 6 pm
Highland Inn, 68 Main Street, Monterey, Va

Join Cidermaker Kirk Billingsley for the 2nd annual Inn Cider dinner – 5 Big Fish ciders paired with 5 delicious seasonal dishes prepared by chef Dan Evans. The 2016 dinner sold out early so call the Highland Inn for tickets at 540-468-2143.

Meet the Cidermaker from Old Hill Hard Cider

Thursday, November 16 from 5-7 pm
Midtowne Bottleshop, 29 W Water St., Harrisonburg, VA 22801

Shannon, Cidermaker and owner at Old Hill Hard Cider, will be doing a tasting to celebrate Cider Week VA!

Open House at Big Fish Cider Co.

Friday, November 17 from 4-7 pm and Saturday, November 18 from 2-7 pm
Big Fish Cider Company, 59 Spruce St., Monterey, VA

Enjoy the rustic tasting room with tours, glass giveaways, Cidermaker’s talk and specials.

Steal the Glass – Big Fish Cider Co.

Friday, November 17 at 5 pm
Capital Ale House, 41-A Court Square, Harrisonburg, VA

Take home a free Big Fish Cider Co. logo glass with cider purchase.

Cider Making Workshop & Open House at Old Hill Hard Cider

Saturday, November 18 from 10 am – 5 pm
Showalter’s Orchard & Old Hill Hard Cider, 17768 Honeyville Rd, Timberville, VA

Celebrate Cider Week Virginia at the orchard with a cider-making workshop from 10 am – 12 pm and special tastings in the tasting room. There will also be a food truck, apple cider glazed donuts and hot mulled cider.
Workshop registration is free with kits available for purchase.

Brunch featuring Old Hill Hard Cider

Sunday, November 19 at 12 pm
Joshua Wilton House, 44 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA

Join us in celebrating Virginia Hard Cider Week this year by teaming up with Showalter’s Orchard to bring to you an Old Hill Cider Brunch! The chefs are creating a multi-course brunch tasting menu specifically paired with a lineup of Old Hill Hard Ciders. Price per person is $45 excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations are limited and required, so call 540-434-4464 to make yours today!

Everything Pumpkin



Tis the season for EVERYTHING pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, list goes on and on! Here are a few more tasty ideas for you to try this season.  Starting with the inspiration for this blog post by one of our members, The Iris Inn, posting about their delicious sounding pancakes.

  1. Homemade Pumpkin Pancakes: If you want something warm and filling to start the day as the mornings get cooler, this recipe is for you. (via The Iris Inn)pancake
  2. Homemade Pumpkin Puree: Grab your pumpkin and get to work, because the good stuff is on the inside. Slice, scoop and de-seed your way to homemade pumpkin puree that’ll knock any canned pumpkin product outta the patch. (via Pioneer Woman Cooks)

  3. Roast Pumpkin the Perfect Way: Once you’ve spilled the guts, work on gathering all of those white seeds. Here are some great tips and pics on how to roast those pumpkin seeds to perfection. Not only do seeds have nutritional value, but they’re excellent for munching on their own. Or try topping your favorite salad and soups with them for some added texture and flavor. (via Oh She Glows)pumpkin-seeds-1
  4. Sweetly Spiced Roasted Pumpkin Seed and Raisin Snack Mix: Now that the secret’s out on how to roast perfect pumpkin seeds (thanks, Oh She Glows), it’s time to take things to the next level by playing with flavor. (via In Sock Monkey Slippers)pumpkin-snack

  5. Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal: Oatmeal is no longer boring when you awake to a bright orange bowl of pumpkin spice mixed in. With a dash of nutmeg, some crunchy pecans and tart, dried cranberries, it’ll taste like a fall party all up in your mouth! (via Keep Your Diet Real)pumpkin-spiced-oatmeal_logo
  6. Overnight Pumpkin Butter: Once you’ve had the sweet and spicy taste of warm pumpkin butter hit your taste buds, you’ll never look at a pumpkin the same way again. Grab a pumpkin and get digging, because these guts make something quite grand. (via A Beautiful Mess)butter
  7. Pumpkin Ale: Cheers to fall and all things pumpkin! (via Home Brewers Association photo Liquid Bread)pumpkin-ale


Are you hungry yet? What is your favorite pumpkin flavored food?

Fall in Full Force on the Farm Trail

Autumn is a time of year that so many of us cherish and look forward to all year. It is a season that puts our senses on full alert. With the cooling temps and the falling leaves comes the call of the crow, sweaters & scarves make their debut, favorite soup recipes get pulled out, porches are adorned with mums and hey bales, and harvest festivals move into full swing. It is truly a magical and charming time of year.

Pumpkin picking is a very popular activity on the Trail this time of year, so it is for this reason we have decided to highlight some of our favorite farms for this traditional pastime!

Whether you decorate with them or use them in your best recipes (they are super nutritious) – we have the pumpkin that is just right for you.

Back Home on the Farm (corn maze & pumpkin picking)
2915 Willow Run Road
Harrisonburg, 22802

Every Soul Acres (fun fall activities & pumpkin picking)
2411 Flook Lane
Keezletown, 22832

Mulberry Hills Farm (pumpkin picking, gourds, Indian corn, straw)
6442 Crosskeys Rd.
Mt. Crawford, 22841
Showalters Orchard (pumpkins, apple cider, mums, apples)
17768 Honeyville Rd.
Timberville, 22853

Swisher Farms (pumpkins)
574 Ridge Rd.
Fairfield, 24435

Valley Harvest (pumpkins & fall decorations)
6711 Crosskeys Rd.
Mt. Crawford, 22841

Valley Star Farm (pumpkins & hay rides)
1104 Springfield Rd.
Luray, 22835

Our farmers are waiting, so get out there and start making memories today!

Behind the Scenes



Have you had a chance to watch our new video? Click on the picture below to check out how scenic the Farm Trail really is.

Now that you’ve seen the beautiful final product, here are some behind the scenes shots to show you the not so glamorous production side.



Ava and Parker did a great job looking ‘natural’ in this strawberry picking scene at Troyer’s Produce! You would never believe there were this many people behind the scenes, would you?


A Better Way Farm



Say cheese! Is that one, two or three times?



It wasn’t all just hard work though. There was some fun in there too! Just like you’ll have spending a day on the Farm Trail!

A Better Way goatsimg_3331

Fast & Fresh Farmers Market Recipes

So, you are trying to enjoy the last of summers bounty while it lasts? Maybe you have grown tired of the same old recipes? Here are some genius ways to make the most of summers finest goodies!

Roasted Asparagus with Egg and Tomato


  • 1 pound thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely shaved Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • Crusty whole-grain bread, optional

How to Make It:

Step 1

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Toss asparagus and tomatoes with oil in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold vegetables in a single layer. Roast, shaking pan halfway through, until asparagus is just tender and tomatoes have wilted, about 12 minutes. Immediately drizzle with vinegar, if desired.

Step 2

Crack eggs over asparagus mixture. Return to oven and roast until egg whites are just set, about 7 minutes. Top with cheese, sprinkle with chives and serve. Offer crusty bread on the side, if desired.

Quick Twist on Caprese


Slice heirloom tomatoes and layer with baby romaine leaves. Top with blue cheese (add a little crumbled cooked bacon, if you like), toasted almonds and fresh basil leaves. Finish with a splash of sherry wine vinegar and a sprinkling of sea salt.


Raw Beet Salad


Thinly slice or grate raw peeled beets. Toss with feta, fresh mint and minced red onion. Whisk together fig or cherry balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over beet mixture and serve.

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.


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!

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.


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.

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

And have fun staying cool out there!

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:

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:

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.


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.