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Last chance to take a 2008 farm tour

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The Triangle area has some farms, E-I-E-I-O. And on these farms they have some sheep, goats, llamas, turkeys, chickens, cows, rabbits, bees, koi, berries, vegetables, herbs, flowers and even a little biodiesel to boot. Visitors can tour some of them and sample their products during the Third Annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour Sept. 20-21.

The tour, organized by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), features 19 farms divided into regions. The northern region features farms in Creedmoor, Wake Forest and Durham; the central region includes Louisburg, Bunn, Rocky Ford and Zebulon; Willow Springs, Holly Springs, Garner, Fuquay-Varina and Moncure make up the southern region. Each region has a variety of flora and fauna that guarantee a plethora of options for your dinner table. Many farms will be offering tips and tours to help make your home and garden more healthy and sustainable.

And though "traditional" North Carolina farm fare can never be beat, the tour features many farms that are guaranteed to introduce a new tickle to your taste buds. Ever had fresh grown moroheya, shiso or gabo? These Japanese grains, herbs and roots, respectively, will all be on display at Edible Earthscape Farm in Moncure. Owners Jason and Haruka Oatis farmed in Japan for six years before moving to North Carolina in October.

"We were attracted to the area because of the nice community and the growing economy around local and sustainable food," Jason says. "It seemed like a great place to sink our feet in." Judging by its popularity at the Pittsboro and Raleigh farmers' markets, he suggests picking up some shishito, a sweet Japanese pepper.

The weather forecast predicts highs in the 70s and partly cloudy skies, so it's a great weekend to celebrate the cooler weather and impending fall harvest. Some tips:

  • Bring a cooler, as many farms offer fresh meat, eggs and cheese along with fruits and veggies.

  • If you plan to explore multiple farms, pick three or four from one region to maximize time and energy. Allocate 1 to 1 1/2 hours per farm for a proper tour and travel time between farms.

  • Lost? Look for the red tomato signs.

For online maps, ticket purchase and more information, see www.carolinafarmstewards.org. Tickets are also available at Whole Foods stores and some local farmers' markets (see CFSA Web site for list). The tour costs $25 in advance, $30 the day of or $10 per farm. Proceeds support the work of CFSA.

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