Ahhh, 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.


1) 18th Annual Acme Tomato Festival. Chef Kevin Callaghan hosts a tomato festival annually at his Carrboro restaurant, Acme Food & Beverage. While tomatoes are incorporated into many dishes on the menu, the highlight of the fest is the Acme Tomato Festival Kick-off Dinner on July 10th. Craig LeHoullier, the NC Tomato Man will talk tomatoes and Chef Kevin will whip up a 5-course meal which will feature “ … a panoply of the amazing tomatoes grown by our wonderful local farmers, even dessert”. Tomato Fest is July 10th – 14th , 2019. Reservations taken by phone at 919 929-2263. 

Chef Kevin Callaghan of ACME Food & Beverage

2) Tomato Day at Chapel Hill Farmers Market. Taste your favorite tomatoes from all the varieties at market from 11 local farm vendors! Which ones will win the prize? You vote! Winners will be announced in three categories: heirloom, hybrid, and cherry! Kidzu Children's Museum will be there with tomatoey fun crafts for kids! Music from 10-noon with Elliot Humphries LIVE ! Tomato Day is July 20th from 9 am – 12 Noon 

3) 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: Cates Corner Farm, Minka Farms, Hawk Hill Blueberry Farms, Cedar Grove Blueberry Farm, Belle Vie Farms, RambleRill Farm, Cooper-Lasley Farm, Fickle Creek Farm, Forget-Me-Not Farm, Broken Spoke Farm, and Firefly Farm.

U-Picking at Cates Corner Farm in Hillsborough

4) 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: The Carrboro Farmers’ Market is open Wednesday and Saturday; The Chapel Hill Farmers' Market  is open Tuesday and Saturday; The Hillsborough Farmers’ Market and Eno River Farmers' Market (also located in Hillsborough) are open on Saturday.

5) 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: ACME Food & Beverage and Pizzeria Mercato located in Carrboro; Elaine’s on Franklin and Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe located in Chapel Hill; and Panciuto and James Pharmacy 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 one of their most popular events is on National Ice Cream Day of course - July 21


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/

Read more on Orange County’s commitment to Agritourism https://www.visitchapelhill.org/agritourism/

(Photo credits: Chef Kevin, Acme food & Beverage, U-picking at Cates Corner Farm, @evanmoorephoto on Instagram, )