Get Down on the Farm With the Visit NC Farms Mobile App
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Spring is here, and many people are looking forward to getting outside with family and friends in a safe environment after a year of restrictions and staying close to home. And by close to home, I mean: just in your backyard. There’s a new way to explore your region and the state and find fun things to do, exciting things to see, and good things to eat. It’s the Visit NC Farms Mobile app, and it’s available for free for your iPhone or Android smartphone.
The Visit NC Farms mobile app was developed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to help residents and tourists alike find off-the-beaten-path destinations. Users can explore North Carolina’s beautiful countryside, find interesting farm attractions, meet friendly people, eat wonderful food, and experience rural life at its finest. Currently, about 55 NC counties and their “assets” (the term for all the farms, attractions, and businesses featured in a county) are on the map, with more in the works. County assets fall into different categories: Farms, Pick Your Own, Farmers Markets, Local Food and Drink, Shop Local, Farm Stays and Lodging, Tours & Trails, and Special Events. You can search for farms in a specific county or region, sign up for notifications of exciting news and events, find specific products (like “strawberries” or “goat cheese”), find a unique restaurant, and lots more. The object is to highlight local, unique attractions in a county to generate interest in exploring the special things North Carolina’s rural communities have to offer. Richmond County joined the Visit NC Farms project last fall as part of a 13 county cohort in the south-central district of the state. The cost of participating in the program, which involves having a listing on the app, state-wide advertising of the app, and special marketing tools, was provided through a grant from the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority, covering the cost of the program for three years.
Currently, Richmond County has about 13 “assets” listed for the county. Hopefully, most of them are familiar to people here in the county as they are all truly wonderful assets to living here! They include the Berry Patch, the Rankin Museum, Petal Pushers Greenhouse, EE Vuncannons Farm Supply, Longleaf Lodge, John’s Farm, Little River Vineyard, and Peachview Farms. Some of the county’s outstanding nature destinations are featured too, like the hiking trails at Hinson Lake, the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail, and Camp Millstone. By downloading the app, users can explore places in their own county as well as those all over the state, and can sign up to receive notifications of events and new products and specials from participating assets. The Rockingham Farmers Market is also on the app, and will be sending out weekly notifications highlighting items that will be new to the market each week. Thanks to the grant from the RCTDA, participation in the program is free for assets during the first three years.
Richmond County currently has space for up to 25 assets, with 13 spots taken. So, we’re still looking for more assets to join Visit NC Farms Richmond County! A Qualifying Survey can help those interested in participating determine if being part of the app is right for them and their operation. An Asset survey is submitted by those who are ready to join. Information requested includes hours of operation, attractions/products sold, contact information, website, and social media contacts, etc. The form takes just a few minutes to fill out and is submitted online.
Google “Visit NC Farms” to check out the website and some of the aspects of the program. For more information or to receive the survey, contact Paige Burns Clark, county administrator for the VNCF mobile app in Richmond County at firstname.lastname@example.org.