(Updated for 2020)
Aah, the tastes and colors of summer. Here, that means bright red beefy tomato sandwiches, ripe juicy peaches, an abundance of blueberries ready for picking, the greens and yellows of summer squashes and so – much – more! Below are 5 ways to enjoy the bounty of our Orange County farmers. (Please note: Due to COVID-19, things are a little different this year. Please adhere to instructions requested by venues for the best and safest experience).
1) 19th Annual Acme Tomato Festival. Chef Kevin Callaghan hosts a tomato festival annually at his Carrboro restaurant, Acme Food & Beverage. Get updates here. Be prepared for a scrumptious menu! Tomato Fest is July 16th – 19th , 2020.
2) Visit the Farm. Why not take in the full experience? Orange County Farmers invite the public to their farms during seasonal months. Take the family on a pick your own adventure or meet the farmers at their farm stands. Here are some best bets: Minka Farms, Hawk Hill Blueberry Farms, Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm, Cooper-Lasley Farm, Fickle Creek Farm, Broken Spoke Farm, and Firefly Farm. (Please check with the farm prior to visiting. Some farms request reservations to limit the amount of people at the farm in any given time and some farm stands run on an honor based system). Stay in touch with our agricultural community with the Visit NC Farm mobile app - available for free (no ads) for iOS and Android https://visitncfarmstoday.com/
3) Farmers Markets. During the summer months the bounty is plentiful, the hours are extended, and some add an additional day during the week. Orange County boasts 4 Farmers’ Markets (two are temporarily closed due to COVID-19): The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is open Wednesday and Saturday and The Chapel Hill Farmers' Market is open Tuesday and Saturday.
4) Farm to Table Restaurants. There’s just something special about dining at a restaurant that uses local fresh ingredients throughout their menu. It just leaves you with a ‘feel good’ vibe. Orange County is fortunate to have locally owned restaurants where it’s not uncommon to see the Executive Chefs at the farmers market on a weekly basis. Plus, an added bonus, our regional proximity also gives our chefs access to the freshest seasonal products available in North Carolina from the mountains to the sea. And that’s means fresh seafood! For the best in summer bounty, check out these popular farm to table restaurants in Chapel Hill and Orange County: Pizzeria Mercato located in Carrboro; Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe located in Chapel Hill; Wooden Nickel Pub located in Hillsborough. Feel like a drive in the country? For the best and freshest ice cream you need to check out Maple View Ice Cream Country Store (the milking cows graze just across the street) and although a little different this year, they are still celebrating National Ice Cream Month. (Here again, please check before going to any food establishment for any special instructions)
5) Botanist & Barrel supports local farmers using only locally and organically sourced fruits for their wines and ciders. Located on the premises of Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm, the folks at B&B are always excited to share their offerings with winery tours and events at their tasting room. Here are a few upcoming events to help you plan ahead:
Read more on Orange County’s commitment to Agritourism https://www.visitchapelhill.org/agritourism/
(Photo credits: Chef Kevin, Acme food & Beverage, B&B Julie Leonard N&O)