UNION COUNTY — Those who attended the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour in Union County got to experience and enjoy examples of local agriculture and gardening and also view the creation of and even purchase the works of local and area artisans.
Established in 2012, Ag + Art is a free, self-guided tour of farms and artisans that now encompasses 12 counties including Union County which became part of the tour in 2015. The goal of the tour is give those who take part in it the opportunity see first-hand the farms and gardens where the food they eat comes from and learn about rural life. The tour also gives participants the opportunity to see local and area artisans at work and even purchase the products of their imaginations, talents, and skills. Since it began in 2012, Ag + Art has attracted more than 30,000 visitors to the participating counties.
This year’s Ag + Art Tour took place in Union County June 23-24 and included Jackson Farm, 400 Foster Street, Union, where a large variety of vegetables including tomatoes (cherry, better boy and magic mountain), greens (kale, Swiss chard, Asian turnips, mustard, collards, and mixed tender greens), onions, sweet potatoes, cabbage, okra, and others are cultivated.
In addition to being able to visit the fields and see the produce being grown or already harvested, visitors also got to view and purchase the Upcycle Art produced by Christen Willard, owner of and designer for Christen’s Creations; collages and fabrics designed by LaRuchala Murphy of Amyrrh Designs; handmade soaps and lotions made by Patsy Laux, owner of Old Pump Soaps; and paintings produced by artist Ryan Bullock. They also had the opportunity to enjoy Oodles of Doodles face painting and hear musical performances by musicians Za’kyah Jeter and Cedric Jackson.
Pea Ridge Distillery at Hereford Hills Ranch, 1141 Pineland Road, Union, was also a stop on the Ag + Art Tour on June 23 with visitors getting to enjoy tastings of the distillery’s Moonshine and Specialty Spirits which could also be purchased there. Visitors also got to learn about the history of distilling in Union County and tour the distillery itself.
Man and woman do not live by moonshine and spirits alone, however, and visitors were also offered the opportunity to purchase food from the ranch’s food trailer and not just any food. The food for sale was the grass-fed beef and pastured pork raised at the ranch.
There was also a hayride to a replica still on the creek that runs through the property, an area where there was plenty of moonshine activity in the past.
In addition to all this, visitors got to view and purchase woodworking and decorative items produced by Rusty Nail; jewelry by Saving Grace Jewelry; photos by Everett Leigh Photography; handmade soaps and lotions by Old Pump Soaps; and gourmet pickles in unique flavors produced by Pop’s Pickles.
Piedmont Physic Garden, 301 East South Street, Union, was another stop on the tour and visitors there got to enjoy guided tours of the botanical garden that exhibits and promotes the medicinal, economic, cultural and environmental importance of plants to the people of Union County and the surrounding Piedmont region of South Carolina.
The artisans at the PPG were Vickie Shields of Vickie Shields Pottery who displayed examples of her work and made more pots to demonstrates the pottery process to visitors; Lynne Carr of LHC Glass Creations who displayed the various types of glass work items she makes; and Sally’s Friends who performed musical selections.
Six Oaks Farm, 1787 Mount Tabor Church Road, Jonesville, was the fourth stop on the tour where visitors could see the pastured pigs, market garden, market flower field, and other parts of the farm as part of a pastrured/sustainable farm tour. Visitors could also enjoy programs on basic flower arranging.
The artisans at the farm included musicians Jordan Lawson and Aubrey Key as well as Everett Leigh Photography.
In addition to the main tour sites, visitors also had the opportunity to visit such ancillary tour sites as Elle Bell Cafe, 111 West Main Street, Union; Union County Arts Council, 116 East Main Street, Union; Union County Museum, 127 West Main Street, Union; and Rose Hill Plantation, 2677 Sardis Road, Union.
Yes, there was a lot to see and do during the South Carolina Ag + Art Tour and we’re certain there’ll be plenty to see and do during next year’s tour as well. You don’t have to wait until next year, however, to enjoy these things as many of them are, at different times, open to those who are interested in what they have to offer. So go visit and patronize these and other local artists, artisans, businesses, and institutions and enjoy the best of Union County. You’ll have a great time doing so and want to come back again and again.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.