She Farms Tour 2023 celebrates women-owned farms in Apex

by | Mar 31, 2023

The She Farms Tour offers something for everyone – Food trucks, wine, ice cream, products for sale, animals, activities, etc. It will be a great day.

– Diana May, owner, Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm

Last year, a few women farmers in Apex got together and held the first ever She Farms tour. The event exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of attendance and community involvement. This year, She Farms Apex returns on April 15 and promises to be even better with all farms open the entire day – which allows attendees to make their own agenda for the day. The She Farms Tour consists of two areas of Apex, the Marthas Chapel Road Area and the Castleberry Lake Area. The farms on the She Farms Tour include:

Martha’s Chapel Road Area

Castleberry Lake Area

For $25 per carload, you can visit as few or as many farms as you would like. It is a time when the farms throw open their doors to give community members a peek into their day-to-day operations. “Farm tours bring joy and education,” said Diana May, owner of Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm. “Some people on the tour are with their families and want to learn about farms in the area and what they offer. Some people on the tour have a little land and might want to produce something, too. They want to see our greenhouse, our water system – they are on the tour to learn.” May and her husband took over the Christmas tree farm in 1994. Since that time, she has been improving and increasing the farm’s scope and seasonal interest. In the past two years the farm has opened a pick-your-own flower farm, farm stay and soon a new event space.

Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm

“The biggest thing we have learned is patience and everything takes more time than you expect,” May said. We have lots of ideas and lots of things we want to do but farming is not an exact science and Mother Nature always plays a role. Farmland is decreasing in our state and the arbitration courts are hearing arguments where neighbors that have just moved into an area – often on farmland – and then complain about the farms around them. We have to open our farms and continue our farming. It is a big deal. Keeping our land producing is a big deal.”

In addition to Jordan Lake Christmas Tree Farm, other stops include Farrells Creek Farm where farm owners Paul and Karen focus on berries and bees. They are both Master Gardeners in Chatham County and Karen is a certified beekeeper.  Also on the tour is Jean’s Neighborhood Market, which was established in 1980 and includes a seasonal strawberry patch and pumpkin patch. The farm also sells fresh produce in the summer months. This is also a great stop on the tour to purchase some homemade ice cream. The tour stop at Cloer Family Vineyard will offer wine tastings, vineyard visits and a chance to see their wine- making operation, making it a great stop for the adults on the tour.  Apex Flower Farm is in its fourth growing season and focuses on preserving the land and no-till, or reduced-till, farming. The owner, Amy, runs the small farm with the help of her husband and two young boys. Also on the tour is Sun Star Farm School and Camp which is owned and directed by Heidi Watkins. This tour stop will include an opportunity to meet their animals- including goats, chickens, ducks, bunnies, pigs, a llama and Dorper sheep, put also learning about their Waldorf-inspired preschool program.

Finally, Pack House Farms is run by Beth Farrell and her husband Kevin. For several years, they had a dream of turning the field behind his grandparent’s old tobacco pack house into a farm. In 2016, this dream turned to reality when the Farrell’s planted a few rows of blueberries and Pack House Farm was born. Beth Farrell’s favorite surprise from last year’s farm tour is the number of women that participated in the tour as part of a girls’ day out. “We had planned on it being primarily families, but quickly found out we had all different kinds of groups participating – and they were coming from a few counties away in some cases,” she said.

Pack House Farm Owner Beth Farrell

“Events like She Farms Apex gives people the chance to visit the farm and just learn about what we are doing,” said Beth Farrell, owner of Pack House Farm. “They have the chance to ask questions, and see that farms are diverse – even if they are growing the same things. There seems to be increased interest in knowing where your food comes from. The pandemic caused many folks to think about where their food comes from and learn that grocery stores may not always have the items you want,” Farrell said. “I think farmers are also learning the importance of inviting customers to see their farms and learn more about them.”

To purchase tickets for the She Farms Apex Tour visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/she-farms-apex-2023-tickets-543181078227. Advance purchase required and cost is $25 per carload.

Tours start at the top and bottom of every hour. You choose your route – start at any farm you like. Show your support for women-owned farms by purchasing a She Farms t-shirt available with your ticket order.

All of the tours require walking. Each location is a working farm with limited handicap accessibility and a likelihood of muddy terrain. Dogs are not allowed as some of the farms have working animals, and others require no pets for food safety considerations. Children are welcome at all farm stops.