SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WHSV) —
Cinda Malouin and her husband, George, moved to the Valley about six years ago from Scottsdale, Arizona.
They own My Peeps Farm in Waynesboro, where they raise Nigerian Dwarf goats and black Australorp chickens. They got involved with the Fields of Gold farm trail about three years ago.
"I think one of the great things about Fields of Gold is that it allows anyone to get closer to where their food is coming from, and be able to go and explore these various farms, and get to know what each individual's practices are, " said Cinda.
Frank Will agrees. He's an owner of Mount Crawford Creamery, and says shopping local is the connection between the consumer and the community.
"I'm surprised, the people here in Rockingham County that have never been on a farm, that don't know anything about a farm, and we're the top agriculture county in the State — and yet even in this locality, there are a lot of people that don't have any idea of what goes on on a farm. It's an educational thing as much as anything," said Frank.
Frank and Cinda both say folks are always welcome to come out for a visit to get a first-hand look at how products go from the farm to your shelf.
In the coming weeks, My Peeps Farm will host goat cuddling at the property. If you're interested in visiting, you can make an appointment through www.mypeepsfarm.com.
For more information about Mount Crawford Creamery, visit www.mtcrawfordcreamery.com.
Exploring the Fields of Gold Farm Trail
In the Shenandoah Valley, the two top economic drivers are tourism and agriculture.
The Fields of Gold Farm Trail is a program designed to promote both in the Valley, and from April 2 - 6, we're taking a tour along the trail.
Spencer Eavers is the program coordinator for the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.
"There was a lot of movement in about 2010, 2011," said Eavers. "A lot of funding came available recognizing agri-business and opportunities there, and agri-tourism is a subset of agri-business."
The trail officially formed in 2011. It began as a collaboration between local planners, economic development and tourism officials, as well as farmers and local agricultural organizations.
"We are maybe not the biggest area as far as population, which drives tax dollars, which drives funding for programs, and so we really have to get together and collaborate to be successful," said Eavers.
In its first year, the trail had about 60 members, but Eavers says the trail has since grown to include more than 200 members. The stops along the trail span across eight counties and 5 cities, from Shenandoah County south to Rockbridge County.
Brenda Black is the director of tourism for the City of Harrisonburg. She says stops on the trail have attracted visitors from all over the country.
"A lot of North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, we have a lot of Pennsylvania travelers, we see Floridians, and people from Ohio, so we have a huge huge draw," she said.
Black also says she hopes the trend will continue.
"Together, we can reach a greater audience, in turn increase visitation to the Shenandoah Valley, and then boost the economy."
You can find more information on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail at www.fieldsofgold.org.
You can learn more about the different aspects of the Valley connected through the trail in the videos above.