#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!
** This farm is a Got to Be N.C. member **
Memories are best made on the farm and Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur provides many opportunities throughout the year to do just that. In 2001, Beverly Mooney’s father planted his first apples. “My father bought this property in 1981. He was not sure what he wanted to do with the land at first, but he knew that this is where he wanted to retire,” Beverly said. “Him and my mother lived in Australia for seven years prior to his retirement, where they visited many orchards, fell in love with the lifestyle and decided to bring it back to North Carolina.” Today they grow 15 varieties of apples, like honey crisp, fuji, pink lady and granny smith, as well as many other produce items, including peaches, grapes, pecans, berries, pumpkins, and flowers.
In 2004, Millstone Creek Orchards opened its doors to the public for the first time and began offering agritourism events almost immediately. “We started by offering pick-your-own events, which remain our anchor on the farm to this day,” Beverly said. “From then until now, our agritourism footprint has grown so much, not only because we want to support the farm, but also because we want to be a place the community can come to make memories with their friends and family.” In 2008, they opened a bakery on-site, where Beverly’s mother began baking family recipes, including her best selling wine cake! All of their baked goods are seasonal and aim to incorporate fresh, in-season ingredients. They also make their own fresh pressed apple cider that is a must try when you visit.
The orchard aims to offer a variety of events throughout the year that will appeal to individuals in all walks of life. This year they will be offering September Sunflowers for the first time as well as the fall pumpkin patch and Heart of Carolina Talent Search. Other events that are well-known in the community are their wreath making classes, on-site market days that feature over 80 local vendors, professional photography sessions and a concert for Memorial Day weekend. Beverly also hosts many group and school tours throughout the year. In fact, last year alone they hosted over 6,000 students at the farm! “Having kids out to the farm is genuinely my favorite activity that we do here,” she said. “Watching them take in the atmosphere of the farm and learn about the world of agriculture is extremely rewarding.” They even offer a seasonal event for younger children from lap age to five or six years old called Fruity Pickin’ Storytime.
Fruity Pickin’ Storytime is offered on a seasonal basis and is an hour and a half time for kids six and under to enjoy the farm. “We read an agritourism book together outside on the farm and then take a hayride out to the field to pick whatever produce is in-season,” Beverly said. “It allows the kids to truly connect with the growing process and understand what happens on the farm. It’s very personal because we all get to know each other, they can ask questions and learn about where their food comes from.” Fruity Pickin’ Storytime is $15 per child and adults are free to accompany them. All children receive a slushie after the event and “picking beads” from Beverly that help tell the story of harvest on the farm. They also pick product in the fields that they are welcome to take home and enjoy. “Whether families come for the event, pick their fruit and go home, or bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on-site afterward and let their kids play on the playground, it’s always an honor to see families get invested and passionate about the farm and make memories with their children here that will last a lifetime,” said Beverly.
Fruity Pickin’ Storytime isn’t just offered for produce that is in-season, but also flowers and apple cider making. “The apple cider event allows kids to try their hand at making cider on an old press,” Beverly said. “Then we all enjoy some cider together while reading the book ‘Ciderella and the Glass Sipper.” Beverly reads a variety of other books focused on agritourism to kids that visit the farm, including Jack and the Cornstalk. Check out their website for upcoming story time events and to purchase tickets in advance.
For adult visitors, Millstone Creek Orchards offers many fun events to attend during the year, including axe throwing! The farm hosts with the Eastern Randolph Farmers Market to offer a variety of events like jam making classes, animal painting classes and axe throwing to give visitors yet another chance to get out and visit the farm. “It’s all about bringing people to the farm,” Beverly said. “Whether they come for a tour or for axe throwing, our main goal is to get them on the farm so that they can make memories together while experiencing the agricultural beauty of our state.” Axe throwing is offered eight times throughout the year so keep an eye on the farms Facebook page and website for upcoming events. Tickets to all of their events can be purchased in advance through the website.
“We love what we do and have a huge passion for agriculture,” Beverly said. “No matter what people come to the farm for, we just hope that they put their phones down and truly enjoy the experience. Creating memories on the farm that are truly family memories and not just everyday activities is our goal.” Be sure to visit the farm store on-site to purchase products from their farm and enjoy an apple cider slushie! Also keep an eye on their social media for exciting upcoming news about their next adventure into the hard cider business.
Although Beverly loves farming and the rich history of her family’s land, her favorite part is seeing families come together to enjoy moments on the farm. “To see the memories being made here is the most humbling thing you can imagine,” she said. “Some people make matching shirts to come out and take photos together or attend an event. To know that people want to come out and enjoy a day on our land, the farm that we love and put so much hard work into, is the best feeling in the world. Then to see them enjoying our products and taking some home for their friends and other family members is the cherry on top!” Start planning your trip to the orchard today and begin making memories that will last a lifetime.