At Hickory Nut Gap, we celebrate a rich history dating back to 1916 as well as a futuristic outlook where we are building a new model of progressive agriculture. Many, we hope, would find this unique convergence of past, present, and future to be compelling and interesting. After listening to our loyal customer base and responding to the requests of new visitors, our team has developed several tour models for customers to enjoy on a re-occurring basis.
Option #1: Join a Bi-Monthly, Guided Walking Tour
Offered two Saturdays per month, individuals can sign up to join a 1.5 hour group walking tour. There are two tour models offered; high impact and low impact. The morning jaunt features the low impact tour and is designed for limited mobility, guests with young children, or anyone wanting to stay centrally focused around the farm store and hear a more in-depth depiction of the farm history. The afternoon tour is considered high-impact as guests cross over streams, explore fields and picturesque photo ops, and go beyond the main grounds. This tour will touch on the farm’s past, but provide great insight into farming practices, animal welfare, environmental regeneration, and future goals.
Both tours invite guests to arrive early or stay late and enjoy a farm-to-fork lunch by ordering off of our seasonal menu.
Option #2: Reserve a Private Top Tier Tour
For those looking to receive a private, up-scale experience, our tour team has partnered with our culinary team to create a Top Tier Tour. Only offered 1 Saturday per month, this 2.5 hour tour begins with either a high-impact walking tour or a trail ride on horseback soaking up the late afternoon sun. Limited to 12 total guests (but requiring a minimum of 4), this is an intimate opportunity to receive a truly personal guided tour. Immediately following the tour, guests will be ushered into the History Barn where decorated tables await the group while our chef prepares a plated dinner to enjoy. Filled with compelling conversation, delicious chef prepared food, and adult beverages, this tour provides an unforgettable evening with a sensational view.
Our mission at Hickory Nut Gap is to “Build Community through Agriculture” and we feel the best method of achieving that goal is through education and awareness. Our team is dedicated to fostering a deep curiosity about the food we eat, the environment, and how it all works together from the farm to the table. We hope you join us for a tour and look forward to sharing our story with the community we serve.
When school groups come to the farm for field trips, I’ve noticed that, among the parents and teachers, there exists one of two ideologies about the kids’ farm education. When we take the youngsters up to see the baby chicks or the calves and piglets, the question of longevity inevitably comes up. “What happens to them when they grow up?”, “Where are all the mommy pigs?”, “Why do you keep them inside pens?”… When these sorts of investigations arise, I always take a glance at the parents to see how graphic I need to be. Can I use the word slaughter? That is only for the most extreme (often those alternative outdoor experimental schools). Can I talk about hamburgers and bacon? Sometimes the parents react more strongly to this than the kids.
On other occasions, the teachers are gung-ho about delving into the steak-ness of a cow. The other day I was leading a group of third graders through the farm tour and their teacher wouldn’t let up. During our visit to each of the animal pens he pressed the kids about what meat that creature was good for. By the end of the field trip I was surprised that the kids weren’t looking at each other and trying to figure out what the most tender cut of human would be.
Truth is, I don’t really appreciate either of these mentalities in the chaperones. I think that an over exuberance about the end product misses the point just as completely as an inability to talk about the difference between a beef cow and a dairy cow. I think the parents can learn just as much as their kids from a trip to the farm. What I know about small scale farming is that all the details have to be intimately connected in order to sustain a healthy system. Whenever Jamie leads a farm tour, he talks a lot about biodiversity. We are trying to mimic a kind of natural biodiversity in which plants, animals, fungi, lichen, bacteria… all work together. If we focus too much on one part of the system then we blind ourselves to the beauty and intricacy of the whole.
We don’t raise animals just for meat. That is a part of what we do. But we also manage our cows on pasture in such a way as to increase the nutrient density in the soils, prevent erosion, protect from drought, and encourage other pasture critters to thrive. We put our hogs on land overgrown with multiflora rose and scrubby trees that we hope to turn into pasture after a time. We keep our goats out on poison ivy and privet control. A local bee-keeper has several hives around the farm to help pollinate our fruit trees and pasture flowers. While it’s important to acknowledge that the animals do die and that they provide us with delicious, fresh meat, it’s equally important to understand that the animals are an imperative part of the farm ecosystem. Not just in their death, but in the way that they live and interact with all the other forces that are in the constant flux of birth, growth, and death.
I know that’s a lot to take in for a third grader. It’s a lot to take in for an adult! That is what agri-tourism is all about, though. I hope that at least some of that will make it through to the folks who come visit this place, or any farm for that matter.
Education is a big part of what we do here at Hickory Nut Gap. This spring we’re initiating spring field trips for pre-k through middle school students. Field trips are only $5 per student and we accept groups of all sizes. Set up a group by calling the farmstore at 828-628-1027.
It’s especially hard for kids to sit still when the weather is this beautiful. Here on the farm we’ll take them out to see our berry bushes, talk about soils and the needs of growing plants, and see some of the animals that live here at Hickory Nut Gap. They’ll also participate in activities to reinforce the lesson and help them get out all those warm weather wiggles. We accept groups of all sizes so please call if you have a group that may be interested and we can arrange the rest of the details.