Get ready to squeeze your apples at the KP Farm Tour Apple Squeeze event Sunday, Oct. 6 at Volunteer Park. Photo: Chris Konieczny, KP News

The KP tradition enters its 13th year now as a two-day event with more destinations and new activities.

The annual Key Peninsula Farm Tour will showcase local farmers October 5 and 6 with an expanded two-day opportunity to visit historic farms and take in art, live music and farm-fresh culinary delights.

Returning for its 13th year, the 2019 Farm Tour is organized by the Key Peninsula Farm Council, which operates as a subcommittee under the 501(c)(3) umbrella of the Key Peninsula Community Council with support from Key Pen Parks, the Peninsula Light Co. and the Bruce Titus Automotive Group.

“The Farm Tour is (when) you can get on site and enjoy informative tours and see who is doing what and how,” said Leona Lisa, President of the KP Farm Council and owner-operator of the Bill Fold Family Farm near Horseshoe Lake.

The KP Farm Tour dates back to 2006, when it was first established by Trillium Creek Winery as a participant of Pierce County Harvest Fest. The following year, they lost county funding but were able to raise enough money to keep the KP Farm Tour going. The budget has grown with grants from The Angel Guild, Pierce County, sponsors and donors.

“We have seen many changes over the years,” Lisa said. “One of the things that has come up each year is the need for more time and to add a second day to the tour. We have new sites on the tour and returning favorites, so something for everyone.”

Surveys conducted over the years reflect well over 1,000 visitors from 55 different zip codes.

The 2019 Farm Tour will kick off at the KP Fire Department headquarters in Key Center at 8 a.m. on Saturday with a pancake breakfast, followed by firehouse demonstrations.

The Farm Council plans to increase its programs in 2020 to include Farm to Table dinners, a spring Farm Tour, and free farming classes.

At Trillium Creek Winery, visitors can meet KP Farm Tour founders Claude and Claudia Gahard, stroll through their vineyards, and taste wine made from fresh fruit processed in the wine cellar on the 15-acre property in Lakebay.

Bliss Manor Farm is new to the Farm Tour this year. Located above Rocky Bay, visitors can stroll with goats and chickens, and take a ride on the hay wagon to the Christmas tree farm.

Grand Farms in Vaughn will conduct equestrian demonstrations and offer previews of its Haunted Forest. There will be a food truck, beer garden and parking on site.

Kaukiki Farm in Longbranch will have dog herding demonstrations, a garden tour, interpretive walks, and activities for kids. Visitors can learn about the organic practices the farm uses while raising grass-fed beef, lamb and chicken sustainably and naturally while protecting the environment and wildlife.

“One of the aspects the Key Peninsula Farm Council promotes is environmental sustainability (and) education,” Lisa said. “We have added the Minter Creek Hatchery this year in addition to having two kids camps that have agricultural education outreach programs: YMCA Camp Seymour’s Living Machine will once again be open to tour.”

“Sound View Camp near Devil’s Head will have archery, guided nature walks and other camp activities during the Farm Tour, as well as being available for families to stay overnight for a full Sound View experience with dinner, an evening campfire, and breakfast included for those who pre-book the stay,” she said.

A new event on Sunday will be an apple squeeze at Volunteer Park, with live music and old-fashioned activities for children, including an egg toss, a three-legged race, and bobbing for apples.

“People will sign up for a time at a press,” Lisa said. “We will have a variety of apples washed and prepared for squeezing, but folks are welcome to bring their own apples. They will also get a reduced rate for the cider to reflect that. Volunteers will be on hand to assist.”

Fresh-pressed cider will be available for purchase. Visitors can bring their own container or buy one there, Lisa said.

There will be a farmers market alongside the apple squeeze, featuring several vendors and apple themed items.

In conjunction with the Farm Tour, the Longbranch Improvement Club will host the 12th year of the KP Fiber Arts Festival, “Threads Through Time,” featuring artist Cecilia Blomberg, whose tapestries have appeared in national and international exhibitions. (See “Fiber Arts Show Featured Artist: Cecilia Blomberg” in this issue.) More than two dozen artists will demonstrate, exhibit and sell their work at the festival.

Shuttle buses courtesy of KP School Bus Connects will run between sites on Saturday. Gateway Park is the bus terminal for the northern route and Longbranch Improvement Club is the southern route terminal, with shuttles leaving approximately every 20 minutes. Parking is not available at every site.

Blend Wine Shop will host the Farm Tour Art Show through October 7, including paintings of Grand, Kaukiki and Foxglove Farms by the Peninsula Art League plein air artists group.

In addition to the expanded Farm Tour program, The Farm Council plans to increase its programs in 2020 to include Farm to Table dinners, a spring Farm Tour, and free farming classes.

For more information and the full Farm Tour schedule, visit kpfarmtour.com.

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