#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture!
From young to old, Old Mill Farm in Durham beckons the heart of every individual to come and enjoy the peace, joy, and serenity that can be found on a farm. Through the years, the property that Old Mill Farm now sits on has had many faces, including a winery/vineyard and dairy farm. In 2020, the Moore Family leased the farm, transitioning it to house a variety of animals and providing a place for the public to come and enjoy life on the farm. The farm’s General Manager, Kylee Harris, joined the operation in 2021, and has been instrumental in growing the farm’s agricultural and agritourism business. “I’ve always loved animals. I grew up helping on various farms in our community, anything to get me close to an animal,” Kylee said. “So, when I was finally able to own some for myself, I jumped at the opportunity.” Today, the farm is home to many adorable animals, including alpacas, goats, cows, pigs, donkeys, and chickens. They also grow several produce items, including eggs, grapes, and blackberries.
In 2020, the farm began offering private tours to families and friend groups that wanted to come and play with the animals. “Although 2020 presented many challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, it also provided the opportunity for us to create a space where people could come and enjoy the outdoors without worry,” Kylee said. “Our vision is to allow individuals a chance to enjoy time with their loved ones while learning about agriculture and experiencing the beauty of our property.” At the end of 2020, Old Mill Farm began offering many larger, seasonal events, for the public, including farm tours, baby goat yoga and lamb snuggles, summer camp, local music, holiday celebrations and more.
One upcoming event that the farm is very excited about is their July 4th celebration, Pickin’ on the Pond! From 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., people from across the state and beyond can enjoy a southern style pig picking, local beers & ciders, games, animals, local music and more. “This is the third year that we have hosted a July 4th celebration on the farm, and we always try to add something new,” Kylee said. “It’s a great time for families to come out and celebrate together.” General admission tickets cost $12 for the event and other ticket packages are available with add-ons for interested parties. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the farm website.
Other events offered at Old Mill Farms include Wednesdays and Fridays on the farm. Fridays on the farm take place from March to November each year from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. This event is Kylee’s favorite! “Guests can walk out into our goat pasture to play with the goats, who will run right up to you, as well as pet all the other animals through the fence,” she said. “We have live music, food trucks, games, beverages and more at these events. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend and enjoy a relaxing night on the farm.” Fridays on the farm cost $20 per car so find a friend with the largest vehicle and mark your calendar to attend tomorrow night!
Wednesdays on the farm take place during the summers and offer free admission to all guests. “This is an opportunity for people to come out and experience the animals,” Kylee said. “We do have snacks and games available, but it’s more of an opportunity for people to take self-guided tours of the farm and play with the animals.” Self-guided tours are offered every day that the farm is open. Private tours are also available with prices starting at $50 based on the depth of knowledge that people want to cover. Private tours include animal feeding and can be booked by contacting the email on their website.
By attending events at Old Mill Farm, individuals can learn a variety of things about agriculture, including the purpose and use of each farm animal. “I love watching people learn about the animals up close and personal, some that they may have never seen before,” Kylee said. “It is so important to educate people and we never know who we are impacting. One of these animals may become a visitor’s new favorite animal that leads them to a future career in agriculture.”
Products from Old Mill Farm, including farm fresh eggs, can be purchased on-site. The family and staff are also working toward a goal to one day provide fresh grapes and meat products for customers, so keep an eye out for those!
Although Kylee loves sharing her passion for agriculture with anyone and everyone who visits the farm, her favorite part of agritourism is getting to connect with people, watch them learn about agriculture and make memories together. “We have repeat customers that come event after event and it’s always fun to watch them grow in their love and passions for this farm and agriculture itself,” she said. “I also love watching dreams come true here. For example, we recently had a girl who had always dreamed of holding a baby lamb. When she came out to the farm, we were able to make that dream come true for her and she said it was the best day of her life. Seeing that joy created for people is what makes all the tough days worth it and brings about a sense of pride that is simply unexplainable.” Purchase your tickets today for the July 4th Pickin’ on the Pond event and start planning to attend some of their other events this year. Being on the farm is an experience like no other and Old Mill Farms provides a quality atmosphere for all ages to enjoy!
Photo credit: Claudia Powel with IC You Photography