If you ever wanted to learn about tractors, touch alpaca fleece or see a long-haired cow, now’s your chance.
Nine farms are opening their gates to visitors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 21 as part of the 21st annual Harvest Celebration Day. Washington State University Clark County Extension sponsors the daylong open-farms festival every September.
“It’s just really a great opportunity for people to meet farmers, celebrate the bounty of Clark County and see where local products come from,” said Terry Koper, who coordinates outreach to small-acre landowners for the extension.
“It’s a way of linking people back to farms,” added Doug Stienbarger, director of the extension. “As a society, we have gotten separated from our agricultural roots.”
He said local farms not only offer tasty produce and meat (or lovely yarn, in the case of the alpaca ranches), they also keep money in our local economy. He pointed to other indirect benefits; for example, providing wildlife habitat and slowing rain runoff. Plus, they’re pretty.
“How many times have you driven by these pastoral scenes?” Stienbarger said. “If you can spend a little of your food money on local products, it helps support farming in Clark County.”
You’ll have that chance on Sept. 21. All nine farms offer visitors the chance to wander through on self-guided tours. A list of the farms, a map and details are available at WSU Clark Extension’s web site, but here are some highlights:
• Bi-Zi Farms, 9504 N.E. 119th St., Vancouver, will offer hayride tours of the farm on the hour beginning at 10 a.m. You can shop at the farm store, and pet the donkey and goats.
• Gather and Feast Farm, 2706 N.E. 369th St., La Center, grows fruit and vegetables to organic standards. Visitors can see hens, quail and ducks, as well as Scottish Highland cattle (the kind with the long hair). The farm will offer lessons on seed-saving. Guided tours begin at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• Greene Jungle Farm, 3316 N.W. 289th St., Ridgefield, sells pasture-raised meats, as well as U-pick vegetables and fruits. During guided tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., farmers will explain how they raise their cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens under the Animal Welfare Approved certification program.
• Serendipity Alpaca Ranch, 2630 N.E. 253rd St., Ridgefield, will demonstrate fiber carding (that is, how to prepare alpaca fleece for spinning) at 11 a.m., and then yarn spinning at 1 p.m.
• Baurs Corner Farm, 4316 N.W. 169th St., Ridgefield, recently converted most of its pear orchard to hazelnuts. The farmers will offer talks about tractors. Guided tours begin at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m and 2 p.m.
Most of the farms ask that you leave your pets at home. It’s also a good idea to plan your potty stops. Some of the farms have restrooms available and others don’t.
Several farms encourage picnics, so pack a basket and enjoy the pastoral views.