We all missed the Highland County Fair last year in 2020. (Fingers crossed for 2021!) These annual festivities give our county kiddos a chance to cut loose, AND it gives us adults the opportunity to act like a kid again.
Additionally, our community’s end-of-summer event brings a variety of educational opportunities for young people.
In 2020, some kids and teens still raised their Fair livestock, but other youth (and adults!) lost a good opportunity to learn about agriculture. So whether you’re young or young-at-heart, here are some ideas to bring the farm magic of the Fair to your home:
Create a Seed Growing Experiment
One can see a variety of squash, pumpkins, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and more walking through the vegetable barns at the Highland County Fair, but you can also create these projects at home. Select a seed of your favorite veggie (if you don’t already have a garden), and give it a go? It’s a fun project for adults and will also help kids learn the basics of crop planting and growth.
Learn Where Milk Comes From
Though they’re not currently giving farm tours due to COVID-19, Mount Crawford Creamery, located on Old Bridgewater Road in Mount Crawford (about a 1.25-hour drive from Monterey), is a great place to learn about dairy production. (And there’s a lot of great educational material on their website, too!)
Until you can plan a farm trip, visit The Curly Maple, a supplier for Mount Crawford Creamery, and grab some of their yummy milk to use in a recipe. (There’s also Homestead Creamery ice cream and butter there as well!) It’s a tasty way to teach kids the start-to-finish process of dairy production!
Take a Trip to the Highland Farmers’ Market
Due to our current coronavirus situation, the Highland Farmers’ Market is operating a little differently, but we’re so thankful it’s open! Shoppers are welcome at The Pavilion at The Highland Center during regular Farmers’ Market hours on Fridays from 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm, May through October. (Just make sure to follow social distancing and safety instructions from market managers and vendors.)
Explore the vendor areas and see, first hand, a sampling of different products – from fruits and veggies to essential oils – produced in and around Highland County. (And if they’re not super busy, learn more by asking the vendors about their products and how they produce them!)
One new wonderful tool, which has come from COVID, is the Highland Farmers’ Market new online shopping platform! Shoppers can pre-purchase their orders starting on Saturdays at 8 am and until Thursdays at noon for Friday pick-up at the market!
Shop at The Curly Maple
A simple grocery-shopping visit to The Curly Maple (located across from the Monterey Courthouse on Main Street) offers an extensive display of locally-produced products including:
- Honey products from Thorny Bottom Bees
- Maple Syrup & Hickory Syrup from Back Creek Farms
- Cider from Big Fish Cider
- Grilling Marinade from Ginseng Mountain Farm
- Eggs from a variety of local farmers
Challenge yourself and/or your family to complete a recipe or create a meal with a majority (or all!) of these items!
If you’re a parent wanting to take it one step further, reach out to the producer for more information on their production process or a potential visit to their farm!
Visit a Local Farm
One thing Highland County doesn’t have a shortage of is farms! Most know (or can point you in the right direction) of someone who has cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, or horses. Call a friend and ask for a tour of their farm to learn more about their operation. And encourage kiddos to prepare questions before you go:
What’s the difference between a heifer and a cow?
Why do farmers provide animals with a salt block?
What are the best practices for raising livestock?
What types of chickens do farmers have, and why?
What goes into the business side of running a farm?
How do farmers keep their animals healthy?
You’d be amazed at how much there is to learn and all the details that go into farming!
One can always have fun learning about agriculture through our healthy supply of local resources. (And, it’s a great opportunity for an educational, family trip!) Go, and explore!
About the Author
Dorothy Stephenson grew up on her family's cattle operation in Meadowdale, located in the southwest corner of Highland County. When she wasn't on horseback helping her father gather and work cattle, you'd likely find her (still on horseback) jumping creeks in her family's nearby "Big Pasture." Today, though she doesn't ride horses much anymore, she has her own cattle, land, and expansion plans for a farm. Additionally, (and with the inherited, Stephenson, entrepreneurial spirit) she owns two small businesses in Highland County - Sundance Media & Design and Sundance Studio & Productions, which houses another of Dorothy's long-time loves - Clogging. Dorothy loves exploring new places, skills, and ideas, and she intends to live life to the fullest as long as it will let her. (Oh! And she LOVES Christmas!)