The Johnston County Visitors Bureau in Smithfield, NC has been engaged in Agri-tourism development for the last several years, working with our farmers to increase sustainability for our rural heritage and showcasing that to our visitors. Johnston County is one of the fastest growing counties in the US, located 30 minutes east of Raleigh, the state capital. And we have the largest number of working farms in the state with around 1200 farms in operation today. Combining extreme residential growth and agriculture is one of our greatest challenges. We embarked on a proactive position over seven years ago and we have successfully worked with Lazy O Farms who conducts educational farm experiences for school age children and Boyette Farms that has created seasonal entertainment with the Clayton Fear Farm at Halloween and Lights on the Neuse, a Christmas light celebration.
In addition, we are selling to group tours the on-farm experience seeing where local foods are grown and how local farmers get produce and product to the marketplace. These tours are followed with a special dinner at a local restaurant featuring food items of the season. Visitors will see, taste and touch the food products that later that evening will be served to them for dinner, as well as, recipe cards will be provided as parting gifts.
Our farmers are excited to share their stories of family heritage, growth, hardships, and how to survive in today’s market place – it is often about adaptability and change.
Below is a sample Group Tour Itinerary suitable for 15 to 40 people. We will customize the trip based on the time of year the group visits our area. If you would like more information, please give us a call. Other themed farm experiences include: Cotton Picking Tour, Tobacco Farm Heritage Tour, Pick It, Taste It, Take it Home Tour and the Ham & Yam Festival Tour.
From the Farm to the Table
Group Tour Itinerary – Smithfield, NC
Enjoy the “in-the-field” experience of learning about food products and processing operations such as Atkinson’s Mill and Smithfield’s Ham Shop. Learn about local farming and taste the delicious results at a local restaurant! This tour can be customized, based on seasonal availability—strawberries in the Spring and sweet potatoes in the Fall. It’s all good!
9am Atkinson’s Mill
Built in 1757, Atkinson’s Mill has been in operation for over 250 years. It is the only water-powered gristmill in the area. Owners Ray and Betty Wheeler will give your group a tour of the mill’s operation. Food demonstrations of how to make hush puppies are optional. Don’t forget a trip to the onsite gift shop for the best biscuit mix anywhere! Open Monday-Friday, 8am- 5pm. Free .1 hour
10:15am Smithfield’s Ham Shop
Visit Smithfield’s Ham Shop, home of world-famous Johnston County Hams. Along with their tasty hams, the shop offers a large selection of unusual treats that include gourmet coffees, jams, cheeses, candies and more North Carolina Goodness Grows products. Free. .45 minutes
11am Hinnant Family Vineyards & Winery
Located in Pine Level, this family-owned winery offers picturesque vineyards complete with tours and wine-tasting. The Hinnant Family has been dedicated to cultivating the best quality Muscadine grapes in North Carolina for over 35 years. The on-site gift shop offers many varieties of wines, jellies, juices and gifts, including award-winning Muscadine wines. Tours are free. Wine tasting is $4 per person. .45 minutes.
12:30pm Lunch at Holt’s Lake BBQ
Holt’s Lake BBQ is a favorite locally owned restaurant that serves it up “family style” with BBQ, fried chicken, shrimp and flounder with all the vegetables, hush puppies and sweet tea you’ll need. $11 per person includes tax and gratuities.
2pm Lee Sweet Potato Farm
At Lee Farm in Four Oaks, sweet potatoes are the crop of choice. Johnston County is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the country. During other times of the year, visit our other farms that include the Kidd Giant Garlic Farm, Barham Tomato Greenhouse, and Creekside Blueberry Farm. $5 per person. .1 hour
4:30pm Hotel Check-in
6:30pm Dinner, Southern Style.
Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant with a special menu. All attendees receive custom printed menus from the dinner as a gift. Local chefs will offer cooking demonstrations along with dinner. $25 per person.
9:30am Tobacco Farm Life Museum
Learn more about area farmers and their families and the differences from the “old ways” of the 19th century and today. Tour the 6,000 square foot museum that chronicles the everyday life of Eastern North Carolina farm families and explore the depression-era homestead, including the kitchen, packhouse, and tobacco barn. Optional activities include heritage games, butter churning, and craft demonstrations. $5 per person. 1 hour
Depart for home with sample menus from all the sites your group visited and memories of good home cooking, warm and inviting smiles, and a taste of Johnston County. Minimum number in group – 15 people.
Range of Hotel Room Rates
$45.00-$65 plus 7.25 % state tax and 5% local room tax.
Planning Assistance for Costing the Farm Trail Cost for Tour - $50 per person. Fee includes museum admissions, farm tour, one lunch, and one dinner.
Salad Greens with Prosciutto, Blueberries & Toasted Pecans
Butternut Squash Bisque
Wood-Fired Grilled Shrimp with garlic and herbs
Atkinson’s Mill Cornmeal Flatcakes
Seasoned Greens or steamed fresh vegetables
Sweet Tea with Mint
Hinnant Family Vineyard Wines
Sweet Potato Cheesecake
GROUP TOUR ITINERARY
For further information about Johnston County and to customize one or more of these tours, contact:
Amanda Astoske, Group Sales Manager
Johnston County Visitors Bureau
235-A East Market St., Smithfield, NC 27577
(919) 989-6295 fax
Visit our web site: www.johnstoncountync.org