The South Carolina Ag + Art Tour is a free, self-guided tour of farms and markets that features local artisans at every stop. During the tour, visitors have the opportunity to see first-hand where their food comes from, watch artists in action and purchase their works, enjoy the melodies of local musicians, and learn more about rural life. The tour is the largest free farm and art tour in the nation with over 85,000 visitors participating since it began in 2012.
The 2023 event began in early May, with tour stops in Lexington County on May 6, and in Aiken, Lancaster, and Sumter counties during the May 13-14 weekend. The Richland County version of this event will showcase local agriculture and agribusinesses, including farms that produce crops, livestock, and cut flowers; nurseries and greenhouses; community gardens and urban agriculture sites; tree farms, and more. Visitors will learn how local food crops are grown, what actual farmers deal with each day, and how what they do affects the residents that depend on their products.
On Tuesday, May 30, the Clemson Sandhill Research and Education Center will host the 2023 Richland County Ag + Art Kickoff Event Field Day, Farm Tour + Farmers Market. The event will take place at the Sandhill Farmers Market at 900 Clemson Road. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. and last until 6 p.m. or until all questions are answered. Among the activities scheduled:
•Sandhills Farmer’s Market Fun: Experience artisans, vendors, food, and live music by the Saluda River Band at the Sandhill Farmers Market. Visit the Richland County Ag + Art Tour booth to learn more about the upcoming tour, take seeds from the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District’s Seed Sanctuary, and enjoy crafts and games for kids. Exhibitors will include the S.C. Garden Based Learning Network, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, S.C. Farm Bureau, and Richland County 4-H.
•Ag Combine Simulator: Kids of all ages can harvest crops through the magic of audio visuals in the cab of a real agricultural combine. The S.C. Farm Bureau Ag Combine Simulator is an interactive mobile educational display unit. “Ride” in the combine cab to see and hear how S.C.’s farmers harvest a variety of crops.
•Exclusive Preview of the new Sandhill Children’s Garden: The Sandhill Children’s Garden is currently under development at 900 Clemson Road and will open to the public in fall, 2023. The garden will open for an exclusive preview during the Ag + Art Tour Kickoff Event, so plan to drop by and see what the garden will offer our community.
You can explore the Garden’s five themed areas—Old MacDonald’s Farm, Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Pollinator Garden, Reading Garden, and Sensory Garden. A Bird Sanctuary and a Fit and Fun area are in progress and an educational pavilion is in place for future classes and workshops. A gazebo at the center of the garden can be used to relax and observe the garden from all angles. Picnic tables are available for visitors to enjoy a snack or lunch.
•Guided Farm Tours 2 and 3: 30 p. m.: Learn about ongoing variety trials for pecans, peaches, soybeans, sorghum, and forages; blueberry production; pollinator and wildlife habitat; forest management and prescribed fire; sorghum production for bio char; and research into the economic impact of deer on row crops.
The free, self-guided Ag + Art Tour will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 10–11, at 15 tour sites around Richland County. Anyone interested in participating in Richland County’s tour, or any of the other counties not yet completed, can find tour site maps online at AgAndArtTour.com. Remember working animals are part of farm life, so please leave personal pets at home and be considerate of those folks inviting you to their place of business.
The Ag + Art program is facilitated by Will Culler, Ph.D. who is the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour director under the Clemson Extension Agribusiness umbrella. The Richland County Ag + Art Tour is administered by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (RSWCD) with the support of the Richland County Conservation Commission, Richland County, public and private sponsors, and a dedicated planning committee comprised of volunteers. Chanda Cooper, RSWCD Conservation Education analyst, is the Richland County Planning Committee chair.
Among the destinations for 2023 Ag + Art are Working Farms—Crooked Cedar Farm, One Hubcap Farm, Doko Farms, Fabel Farms, Uhuru Farms, Farm at Senate’s End, Sustainable Carolina Garden, and Rosewood Public Orchard; Associated Businesses—Gardeners Outpost, Mill Creek Greenhouses, and Sal’s Ol’ Timey Feed and Seed; other participating entities— Harbison State Forest, Lewis + Clark Appliance Art, The Congaree Milling Company, and Mr. Bunky’s.
For more information on Ag + Art, including each participating county’s schedule, www.agandarttour.com.