By Deb Bigelow
What do tourism, agriculture, fall foliage, history and conservation have in common?
In Coshocton County it would be our Fall Foliage and Farm Tour, held annually the third weekend of October. This tour highlights farms, agribusinesses, historical sites and the beautiful landscape of our area with vibrant fall colors.
Our tour is drive-it-yourself with maps picked up at the first stop. Participants can stop at any or all of the stops on the tour during designated hours.
This year we hosted more than 1,300 visitors from eight states and 27 Ohio counties. Many soil and water conservation districts around Ohio work with partners to host farm tours, usually in the summer or fall months.
A quick Google search found tours listed in Ashland, Wayne, Knox and Stark counties on the Discover Ohio website. What better way to learn about life on the farm if you do not have a personal connection to a farm.
Take your children or grandchildren on these tours and show them how milk is produced or allow them to get close to a sheep and feel its wool. You may find free samples of cheese or ice cream or coloring books with crayons made from soybeans.
These tours serve to heighten the visitor’s awareness of agriculture and give a glimpse into the daily routine of those hosting the stop. These farms and agribusinesses open their doors to the public to inform visitors of the workings of the farm.
Animals, machinery, demonstrations, models, food samples, commodity group displays, and conservation educational displays are just a few examples of what you may see at any given stop on one of these tours.
Farm owners and operators are available to answer questions and take pride in showing you their operation.
In Coshocton County, a committee comprised of Ohio State University Extension, Farm Service Agency, and Soil and Water employees plan the tour each year in different sections of our county. But the real work for the tour is done by the landowners and businesses that we ask to host a stop.
We all know how we spruce up our homes when company is coming. Imagine the work to prepare for more than 1,000 people.
The time and effort put forth by these folks is what makes these tours special and give visitors a unique opportunity to learn about agriculture. I encourage you to look for these tours when you are planning a weekend activity for your family.
Contact your local soil and water conservation district and see if your county hosts such an event or if they know of surrounding counties doing so.
I think this quote from Aldo Leopold explains the best reason for these tours:There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.