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Elaine Ollis guides her two border collies as they bring in the herd of sheep at Ollis Farms.
Participants in the 2012 Farm Tour will have the opportunity to witness Ollis and her dogs in
Photo by Matthew Hundley

Originally published: 2012-08-02 13:47:50
Last modified: 2012-08-02 13:47:50

2012 Fall Farm Tour to showcase four unique farm-based businesses

Matthew Hundley / (

Four farms in Avery County are gearing up for the 2nd annual Fall Farm Tour, sponsored by Avery County Agricultural Board. 

This year, the four farms scheduled for the tour are Andy’s Produce Farm, specializing in organic produce; Ollis Farms, with sheep and Fraser firs; Hughes Farm, featuring a working gristmill; and the farm of Brandon and Rachael Townsend, the winner of the Young Farmer of the Year award at the 2012 Avery County Farm City Banquet. After wrapping up at the Townsends, the tour will proceed to Trinity Tree Farm for a barbecue dinner prepared by Waightstill Avery.

The tour will depart at noon on Friday, Aug. 18, from Avery County Cooperative Extension, located at 805 Cranberry Street, but ACAB asks participants to arrive at 11 a.m. for registration. Transportation will be provided. The cost to participate in the tour is $10, which includes the “pig picking” at the end of the tour.

To participate in the tour, RSVP by Friday, Aug. 10, by calling Tami Hagie at (828) 733-8270 or Ann Coleman at (828) 737-9253.

Andy’s Produce Farm

Andy Vaughan IV has more than 20 acres of picturesque farmland surrounding a pleasant pond near Pineola. Vaughan has dedicated nine of those acres to growing more than 45 different organic vegetables. At the moment, Vaughan’s new operation supplies fresh, organic vegetables for numerous restaurants throughout the region. Vaughan also brings his wares to nearby farmers’ markets, including Banner Elk. Vaughan plans to open a produce stand soon that will be open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, allowing fans of fresh veggies to go directly to the source for their produce. Vaughan grows much of produce from natural seed, ensuring quality and organic practices throughout the growth practice. Tour participants will have the opportunity to purchase Vaughan’s fresh produce during the tour.

Ollis Farms

The visit to Ollis Farms will feature a rare opportunity: The chance to see a genuine sheepherding demonstration on a working livestock farm. In addition to the traditional Avery County crop of Fraser firs and honey, Ollis Farms features livestock, including cattle and sheep, in acres of beautiful pastureland. In addition to sheepherding and beautiful vistas, Ollis Farms offers unique insights into the history of agriculture in Avery County. Historically interesting features on the Ollis Farm include original buildings from the 1930s, the former path of Highway 221, the renowned “Indian cliffs” and a family cemetery for the farm’s original owners, the Wise family, who received the acreage as a land grant following the Revolutionary War. 

Hughes Farm

The Hughes Farm features both large-scale livestock production and something that even long-time farmers may not have seen for many years, a working gristmill, which Kenny Hughes uses to grind fresh cornmeal. During the tour, participants will see cattle and the antique gristmill in operation. 

Brandon and Rachael Townsend

The Townsends’ farm focuses on three crops: Fraser firs, vegetables and brambles like raspberries and blackberries. Rachael was the winner of the 2012 Young Farmer Award at the Farm City Banquet, a testament to this young couple’s work ethic and capability for farm management.