Category Archives: Farms Trails & Tales

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.


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.

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!

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:









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:


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.

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.

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

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?


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

Planning Your Adventures for 2017?

Now is the time that many people begin looking forward to the year ahead with renewed hope and vigor regarding the path that their lives will take. It is a time for inner reflection. What resolutions will you make regarding the positive changes you would like to incorporate into your life this coming year? For some it may be taking more quality time with family and friends, or even just more time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. For others it might be vowing to eat healthier, be more physically active, or to be more supportive of local businesses.

Luckily, the Fields of Gold has much of what it takes to help you and yours have a happier and healthier 2017 no matter what your goals may be! Below we have taken some time to highlight four of our top winter weather farm categories – we hope this helps you beat the winter blues and start the year off right! We look forward to seeing you on the Farm Trail often in the coming year.  Happy New Year Fields of Gold fans!

On Farm Lodging

janu-nl-imagesOur “On Farm Lodging” establishments are super popular all year, but make an especially cozy, unique and memorable winter weather get away. Whether you are looking for the real farm experience or just a relaxing break, you will find it at one of our farm B&B’s, country inns, rural retreats and farm cottages. Get up with the rooster (or not!) and go to bed when the cows come home. For a full listing of farms that offer lodging and other amenities (like llama trekking), visit our website and choose the On Farm Lodging Category. You can even filter by locality. Make your reservations now!

Experience the Farm

fort-valley-plbackgroundVisiting alpaca and llama farms, as well as going out for a horseback ride, are very popular winter pastimes on the Trail. Alpacas and llamas are not only very fun to get to know, they are quite beautiful animals that make the most incredible wool yarn. Oh, and don’t forget the toasty hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters and socks! No wonder this is such a favorite, especially among knitters, this time of year!

OR if that is not for you – Bundle up and jump on a horse! Several of our horse farms offer a variety of winter weather trail ride excursions. Most involve great views of the mountains, hot cocoa, a possible sunset picnic and more. Show your local businesses some love and don’t forget your camera!

Farm to Table Dining

teaWinter is all about comfort food and boy do our Farm to Table restaurants and cafes have you covered! Not only are they a great place to stay warm and cozy during this chilly season, they are the best way to indulge in the locally grown cuisine that is so plentiful here in the Shenandoah Valley! Support your local food growers while treating your pallet to something delicious (and probably pretty healthy too). Make this one of your New Years resolutions in 2017. Bon Appetit! 

Wineries & Breweries

brothersWine and beer are full of nutrients, high in antioxidants, have been known to reduce stress in moderation and should be a part of every adults New Years Resolutions!

You do not have to journey to the Napa Valley to have high quality wine. We have award winning wines and craft beers right here in the Shenandoah Valley! Did you know that Virginia is listed as one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world? Go out and learn how wine, ciders, and craft beers are made! Cheers!

Calling All Horse Lovers!

Botetourt County Economic Development & the Fields of Gold Farm Trail are joining forces to bring you an adventure filled weekend!

Horseback riding for two – Day 1

Bring your own horse and spend a day or more horseback riding along the Glenwood Horse Trail near Buchanan, VA. Waterfalls, mountainous scenery, wild trout streams and unique sights, are just a few things that you will see on this 65 mile horse trail. Glen Wood Horse Trail intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway, Spec Mine Trail, Natural Bridge Station and Camp Bethel and is well signed and easy to follow. Difficulty varies throughout the trail ranging from an easy paved section to a difficult single track through steep mountainous terrain. With multiple access points, adventurers can customize their experience. For map of trail –

For lunch/dinner, enjoy the atmosphere of the Buchanan Grill, a 50’s-style diner, or other casual dining options in the town of Buchanan such as the Swinging Bridge Café or Brink of the James Bistro.

While in town, walk the only Swinging Bridge that crosses the James River in the town of Buchanan and stop by Town Hall and request a free historic tour of the town. You’ll learn about the impact of the American Civil War and the battle of Hunter’s Raid as well as about the importance of the James River and transportation history of the Kanawha Canal.

Travel only a short distance south of Buchanan on Route 11 to your first Fields of Gold Farm Trail location of the weekend, Fincastle Vineyard and Winery, where you can enjoy fine wine in a relaxing, scenic environment. Be sure to check their event calendar for upcoming events as well.  For additional wineries in Botetourt County, visit or for “farm” wineries go to, keyword search “Wine” or “Winery”. finvineyard-web

Lodge and board your horse at Shenandoah Gateway Farm Bed and Breakfast, Fields of Gold Farm Trail On-farm Lodging member. Shenandoah Gateway Farm is 57 acres of rolling hills, lush pastures and woods.  The 6 stall barn is available for your horses and they will love the 1 acre pastures to graze and relax. Relax as a couple in the spacious, private apartment.  You will enjoy the comfortable, private rooms and breakfast served at the time and place that is convenient for you.

Day 2 – Continue your ride along the Glenwood Horse Trail.

Enjoy lunch at North Star Restaurant just south of Buchanan on Route 11. Home style cooking makes this popular with the locals.

In the towns of Troutville and Buchanan, you’ll find gift shops, antiques stores and galleries such as the Apple Barn II, Cackleberry Ridge, Southern Past Times, KC Collections, and many more. From primitive décor to locally made products, you’re sure to take home a memorable souvenir from your visit.

Continue south on Route 11 to Valley Road where you’ll find Flying Mouse Brewery, a super fun brewery with delicious beers, also located on the Farm Trail. Enjoy a fresh craft brew in the Mousetrap tasting room. Check out their website for upcoming music and events at

Enjoy fine farm to table dining just minutes away in Troutville at the Pomegranate Restaurant and Gathering Place, another stop on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

Upon your short travel back towards Buchanan and Shenandoah Gateway Farm, take in a movie at the historic Buchanan Theatre. Current movies but with retro prices make this stop a real treat. For a full listing of Botetourt County Fields of Gold Farm Trail members visit:

Harvest Family Fun Day

Four days until the first Harvest Family Fun Day at Bluestone Vineyard! Join them for live music by A Man About a Horse, food from Valley Pike BBQ Co. and Old School Burgers, play KnockerBall with KnockerBall Harrisonburg Bubble Soccer, fun activities for the kids, and visit North River Corn Maze. Don’t forget to bring food for Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Tell the kids to wear their costumes and get in the Halloween spirit a day early!