Farm Tour Moves Online

Example of a magazine article highlighting a community event.

The pandemic threw the 20th Anniversary of the Dufferin Farm Tour for a loop. Find out how farm families will produce a video tour instead. 

Every year, farmers like Evan Besley open their gates to visitors on a Saturday in the fall. The Dufferin Farm Tour offers a first-hand look at his family’s 1,800-acre market garden. 

“In Dufferin County, we have such a diverse product line as far as produce and products available to our community,” says Besley. “The farm tour does a fantastic job of bridging that gap and educating people of exactly where their food comes from and how it’s grown.”

About a dozen family farms organize the tour. It started in 2000 with the “grow local, buy local, eat local” movement. Over 1,500 visitors a year learn more about Dufferin’s primary industry. Admission is a donation to our community food banks.

The farmers show visitors around tables, barns, greenhouses and fields. It’s a popular way for local consumers and producers to learn from each other. Organizers thought they’d be planning special events for the tour’s 20th anniversary around this time.

Of course, 2020 isn’t normal. “The fact is that we all prefer to get out and breathe fresh air and see the animals in person,” said tour volunteer Marci Lippman, “but we can’t do it this year, and we don’t want people to forget about us,”

This year, the tour will become a video on the Dufferin Farm Tour website. The committee knew they’d need a hand producing the documentary. So, they’ve brought in local videographer James O’Connor.

“I felt the content around it, what it meant doing, which was going to the farms filming everything and interview everyone,” O’Connor said. “Bringing the tour experience to the audience was a huge opportunity,”

The documentary will feature the local landscape with brick farmhouses, ripening crops and grazing livestock. The farmers will demonstrate manual techniques and modern equipment.

“You get really close, you hear it, you almost feel it,” O’Connor added, “I hope people will take away from this, connect where your food comes from.”

Instead of collecting donations at their gates, the families will hold a food drive at local supermarkets. Customers will be able to donate food items as they leave the store. The food drive will also promote the documentary. 

The tour expects to collect about two tonnes of food. “Great support for our local food banks,” wrote the Shepherd’s Cupboard Foodbank on Facebook. “Thank you, Dufferin Farm Tour, for putting together such a great event.”

The online tour is a change of pace. “It’s a fairly large undertaking to have people onto our farm, or onto a farm the traditional way they used to do it,” said Besley. “So, this way was a little more efficient for ourselves yet still providing a good insight of how our farm operates on a day-to-day basis”

The organizers encourage everyone to “eat local, eat healthy and support farmers.”

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