The 29th annual Spring Farm Tour, featuring nearly 30 farms representing a cross-section of Loudoun’s rural industries, returns this week as a hybrid online and in-person event.
Beginning Monday, May 10, Loudoun Economic Development will feature different farms on its Loudoun Farms website and social media, leading up to the in-person events the weekend of May 15-16.
This hybrid format follows a year in which both the Loudoun Spring and Fall Farm Tours were conducted virtually to comply with COVID-19 protocols. The retention of virtual promotion and return to in-person visits is a blueprint for success moving forward.
The hybrid format follows a year in which both the Loudoun Spring and Fall Farm Tours were conducted virtually to comply with COVID-19 protocols.
“Loudoun’s Spring Farm Tour has always been a celebration of the county’s agricultural tradition by introducing people to its leaders and giving them a glimpse into its bright future,” stated Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer. “During the COVID-19 outbreak, the virtual farm tour gave access to consumers, not just here in Loudoun, but around the world. We saw thousands of website visitors from dozens of counties, all learning about Loudoun’s innovative farmers. Spring is a time of new beginnings, and we’re thrilled to reintroduce the in-person aspect of the tour.”
Most participating farms are also part of the Loudoun Made Loudoun Grown Marketplace, an e-commerce platform launched during the pandemic to help connect people with local farms. Loudoun Economic Development covers the monthly enrollment fees, offering no-cost marketing support, and ensuring that 100% of all sales go directly to the farmers.
The marketplace features a wide variety of local products including produce, flowers, chicken, pork, beef, turkey, lamb, eggs, dairy, fiber products, desserts, and even farm-sourced wine, craft beverages and tea.
“The COVID-19 pandemic really underscored the importance of local supply chains and the ability to know where dinner was grown,” stated Loudoun Business Development Officer for Agricultural and Business Services John Magistro. “There are parts of the country and world that saw food shortages due to trade disruption, but that doesn’t happen in communities with marketplaces, farmers markets, farm stands and farm-to-table opportunities. There’s a strong relationship between Loudoun and its farms, with residents and visitors buying local, farms donating excess food to local food pantries, and several of our farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits.”
“As we strive for equitable economic recovery, we talk about things like putting food on the table,” Magistro added. “In this region, we love to see Loudoun-grown food on the table, and that starts with the Spring Farm Tour.”
According to the most recent Ag Census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Loudoun is home to more than 1,200 commercial farms, with many thousands of businesses operating on those properties. Loudoun’s renowned wine, equine and wedding industries are the backbone of a robust tourism industry that was worth nearly $2 billion in annual economic activity, pre-pandemic, according to Loudoun Economic Development.
Loudoun also has more women-, Latino-, Hispanic- and Asian-owned farms than anywhere else in Virginia, and leads the commonwealth in farms owned by military veterans.
To take part in the hybrid farm tour, go to LoudounFarms.org/FarmTour.