Plan an Appalachian Staycation This Fall!
Opportunities to visit farms still exist during COVID-19. Even if you’re staying close to home, you can take advantage of these ways to safely enjoy and support Appalachian Grown farms. More than 100 farms in the region are still open for a variety of unique and authentic farm experiences, including u-pick orchards, on-farm lodging, small group tours, vineyard picnics, and more. Explore this seasonal lineup or use the charts in the 2020 Local Food Guide below to find farms and experiences open this fall.
Note that outdoor activities have grown in popularity this fall and many farms have experienced crowding on weekends. If possible, plan your Staycation for a weekday or look for farms that are off the beaten path. Find something new right here in the mountains! Always contact farms and businesses before visiting to confirm if reservations are needed, what precautions are in place, or any changes to hours and offerings.
Go apple picking.
Although many autumn activities are on hold this year, some local orchards are welcoming visitors to pick apples and enjoy outdoor activities while social distancing. (Hear how Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard has adapted this year in this Growing Local Radio episode.) U-pick apples are generally available from late August until the middle of October.
Find: farms with u-pick apples
Pandemic Planning Tip: Avoid crowds by visiting u-pick farms open on weekdays.
Choose your pumpkin.
Need an extra-large one for carving a jack-o-lantern? A variety of shapes and colors for your front porch display? Mini pumpkins for Thanksgiving dinner place settings? U-pick pumpkin patches, roadside stands, and farmers markets let you select the perfect options for your fall mood. Pumpkins are generally available from mid-September through the end October or early November.
Find: farms offering u-pick pumpkins or farm stand pumpkins
Pandemic Planning Tip: Avoid crowds by visiting roadside stands open on weekdays or make a trip to a farmers market you haven’t visited before to shop for pumpkins.
Get lost in a corn maze and go on a hayride.
Some farms have found ways to offer these quintessential fall farm experiences, even with social distancing precautions in place.
Find: farms with hayrides or corn mazes
Pandemic Planning Tip: Find out if you can reserve a time in advance for corn mazes and hayrides.
Enjoy a mountain getaway.
Just because you live here, doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a little escape. Spend the night on a farm and savor fall in Southern Appalachians in a new setting. Hear how some farms are adapting on-farm lodging this year in this Growing Local Radio episode.
Find: farms with lodging
Pack a picnic and stroll through a vineyard.
Pick up provisions from an Appalachian Grown partner restaurant and visit a vineyard or orchard. Many have tables or areas where you can set up a picnic blanket while enjoying the view.
Find: farms with wineries, cideries, or meaderies
Pandemic Planning Tip: Avoid crowds by visiting on a weekday; call ahead to find out if you need a reservation to visit.
Visit a farm stand and preserve the season.
Stock up on the end-of-season bounty, such as tomatoes, apples, beans, peppers, and corn for canning, pickling, jam, and more. Need a large quantity? Contact farms in advance and see if you can arrange to buy in bulk. Short on canning supplies? Find preservation tips for air-drying and oven-drying in ASAP’s weekly Fresh at Farmers Markets column.
Find: farms with roadside stands
Pandemic Planning Tip: Some farm stands offer curbside pickup. Call ahead to find out.
Take the Appalachian Grown Chef’s Challenge.
Watch cooking demos from local chefs on ASAP’s YouTube channel or social media. Then visit a farmers market to collect what you need and try your hand at the dish. Shop at your local market or take a drive to visit a new one.
Find: farmers markets throughout the region
Pandemic Planning Tip: Make a plan to cook and eat virtually with friends via Zoom or Google Meet.
Go on a virtual farm tour.
Visit a farm from the comfort of your own home. Our Growing Minds program has an ongoing Meet Your Farmer series for kids. The NC Foothills Farm Tour went virtual this year, with tours offered via Facebook and Instagram from August to October.
Find more in the Local Food Guide.
The 2020 Local Food Guide includes handy charts to help you find farm stands, u-pick, lodging, and on-farm activities. You can also use the advanced search options in the online Local Food Guide to narrow your search.