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Farm bus tour highlights sustainable ag practices

by | Aug 12, 2022

The UMES Extension’s Farm Bus Tour highlights farms with sustainable and innovative agricultural practices. This year, the tour visits Central and Eastern Virginia. (Photo courtesy Gail Stephens)

PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — The UMES Extension’s Farm Bus Tour will be back on the road on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 to visit eastern and central Virginia.
The tour, which highlights farms with sustainable and innovative agricultural practices, is returning after a four-year hiatus.
“Despite the many challenges farmers are facing today, there remain strategies and alternative methods for increasing farm profits,” said Berran Rogers, coordinator of UMES Extension’s Small Farm Program and organizer for the event. “Stops along the tour will introduce unique marketing approaches aimed at helping farmers work directly with the customer and leaving the middleman out-improving the bottom line.”
Tour stops include Bees Knees Farm & Creamery in West Point, Riverside Produce Farm and Muscadines in King William, Slade Farms in Surry and Virginia State University College of Agriculture’s annual field day. 
A recipient of the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 2021 Small Farm Outreach Program Volunteer of the Year, Bees Knees Farm & Creamery has been operating for five years and offers diversified meat products along with cheese and goat milk from the 20-acre farm. The stop will showcase the farm’s diversified marketing strategy, including on-farm sales, farmers’ markets, online sales with drop-off points, food hubs and agritourism.
Described by VCE agents as “one of the most productive and immaculate farms in the region,” Riverside Produce Farm and Muscadines wholesales its produce (melons, heirloom tomatoes and adding muscadine grapes next fall) to stores and food hubs.  
Once a corn and soybean farmer on many acres, the third generation owner of Slade Farms has converted his operation to two acres of organic produce and heirloom seed plots, specializing in sweet potato slips and elephant garlic. The farm motto is “Responsible Farming with Profitable Results.”  
Keeping old varieties alive to preserve for future generations is owner Clifton Slade’s passion.
The tour starts at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, leaving the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus and is scheduled to return to campus at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1.
Registration includes bus transportation to farm visits and VSU’s field day on Thursday, Sept. 1, educational packets, light refreshments and one night hotel accommodation on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
Registration is open at https://farmbustour2022.eventbrite.com. Cost is $75 for a single registrant and $125 for a party of two.
The deadline to register is Aug. 24.

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