The 2018 Farm Tour attendees got a firsthand look at five locally owned farms and their relationship to the economy, the community and Escambia County.
Approximately 100 people gathered at the Escambia County Central Office Complex Friday, May 11 for the all day, five-stop tour.
Participants loaded onto two large buses and made their first stop at Renfroe Pecan Company on West Fairfield Drive. Tour participants were treated to a guided, behind-the-scenes view of pecan sorting, processing and packaging, along with an exclusive after-hours walk through the retail store.
The tour continued along West Fairfield Drive, stopping at Johnson's Beekeeping and Escarosa Beekeepers Association, where participants were able to view the honey harvesting process, from hive to jar. Honeycomb and interactive educational portions of honey bee habitats were also on view.
"This year we tried to highlight alternative agriculture," said Nick Simmons, Escambia County Extension Services Director and member of the Farm Tour Committee. "We were excited to be able to highlight agriculture in more of an urban setting. Everything on this tour was south of I-10 and everything was within roughly a 10-mile radius of the county Central Office Complex and the downtown area."
The next stop took farm tour participants to one of Pensacola Bay Oyster Farm's locations near downtown Pensacola for a dockside look at young oysters growing in the Pensacola Bay.
After lunch at the Brownsville Community Center, the tour made its fourth stop at Jenkin's Timber Properties, a timber production company near the south shoreline of Perdido Bay. Tour attendees stood among hundreds of shady pine trees and learned the difference between the many varieties of pines, as well as the benefits of prescribed burns.
The tour made its final stop at the Pensacola Interstate Fairgrounds to view youth livestock projects and watch a mock livestock competition involving three calves of varying ages and breeds.
"We received a lot of positive feedback this year," Simmons said. "One of the things we heard a lot from people, is that they've been on the tour before or lived in this community for a long time and had never heard or seen a lot of the places we took them to, even though the sites are not far from their own homes."
The farm tour is held every 16-18 months and is the work of a committee made up of representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County, Escambia County Farm Bureau, Florida Forest Service and the Escambia County Department of Natural Resources Management.
For more information on Escambia County Extension Services and upcoming farm tours, visit their website, or find them on Facebook here.