If you're looking for an adventure this weekend, the Tour de Farm is certainly worth the effort. Slow Food First Coast is hosting its biannual Tour de Farm this Sunday at 15 local farms spanning from lower St. Augustine’s Rype & Readi Farm to North Jacksonville’s Congaree and Penn Farm & Mills.
The bucolic outing is a clear-your-calendar event for food-lovers, adventure-seekers, families, cyclists and nature buffs–in other words, most all of us. Folks meet local farmers and get a look at how their food is actually grown. Kurt D’Aurizio, Slow Food First Coast president, said, “The Tour is a great way to meet and support the local farmers, artisans, makers and chefs who make up our local food system …. We want to spread the word about all of the delicious, beautiful foods being grown and produced in our area.” The Tour’s goal is for folks to form relationships with those who make and produce their food. It may surprise you to know how many farms are in our area, producing quality meat, dairy, eggs and produce.
Slow Food First Coast, a local chapter of the international organization that advocates for good, clean, fair food for all pairs farms with local restaurants, artisans and drink producers, so you’ll get to taste the best our region has to offer.
When you go, you’ll meet a slew of interesting people. Chat with local bakers and makers, like the Community Loaves staff–who’ll be at Down to Earth Farm–specializing in sourdough bread and specialty baked goods, or Gnarbucha, set up at BEAM Grace Garden, masters of the fermented fizz that is kombucha, enjoy flavors like Lemon Lavender or Ginger!
Start your day with a full cup of coffee from Bold Bean Roasters or The Kookaburra. End your day at Traders Hill Farm sipping frosty brews from the newly opened Hyperion Brewing Company, or testing St. Augustine Distillery’s rum or double casked bourbon at Rype & Readi. You’ll be able to sample dishes from local restaurants like the beloved French spot Restaurant Orsay, spice it up with Fresh Jax and get a taste of St. Augustine’s Juniper Market.
Most of the makers and restaurants on the tour are recipients of the Snail of Approval, meaning they source ingredients as locally as possible. If you see a red Slow Food Snail symbol at a vendor, you can feel good about supporting that place, because Slow Food has vetted it for its ingredient sourcing. There’s a list of places that have the Snail of Approval on Slow Food First Coast’s website.
The Tour is educational, too. Learn about bees from the honey masters of Bee Friends Farm and about goats from Glades Ridge Goat Dairy family. Ogier Gardens, a student-run teaching farm at the University of North Florida, offers good opportunities for visitors and students alike and will be on hand at Eat Your Yard Jax on the North by Northwest route. There, you can pick farmer Tim Armstrong’s brain about foraging practices, growing mushrooms and how to get the most out of what you plant in your backyard.
Slow Food First Coast knows you’ll want to visit every farm, but that’s hard to do when there are so many, so spread out! They’ve broken down the tour into sections, with suggested routes. Tour organizer Kyle McBride said, “Regardless of where you live on the First Coast, there is a Tour de Farm stop within a 30 minute drive of your location.” With routes from East of the River, North by Northwest and St. Johns River South, it seems like there really is a farm close to every home, which really puts sourcing locally grown food for everyday cooking into perspective.
This is a family-friendly event, so bring everyone. You’ll need a Car Pass to participate; these can be purchased in advance online or the day of. The pass grants access to all 15 farms and the proceeds benefit Slow Food First Coast’s programs. Carpooling is strongly suggested, so fit as many family and friends as you can in the back (safely) and hit the road. We strongly recommend bringing cash for this and other delicious purchases.
See you on the farm!
Tour De Farm Noon-5 p.m. Nov. 19, $20. More information available at all Native Sun locations and at slowfoodfirstcoast.org/tour-de-farm