Online farm tour bookings ripe for the picking to boost tourism

OPEN TO VISITORS: Hillside Harvest owner Sophie Jones, pictured in the orchard, decided to become involved in an agritourism trial. Photo: SUPPLIED

OPEN TO VISITORS: Hillside Harvest owner Sophie Jones, pictured in the orchard, decided to become involved in an agritourism trial. Photo: SUPPLIED

A CHERRY and apple producer opening her gates to tourists says she hopes to share more about how her fruit is grown.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is conducting the Visit My Farm agritourism trial to help urban and farming communities connect during the school holidays and on an ongoing basis. 

The website allows visitors to pick the region they want to visit and make bookings with farms.

Hillside Harvest is the only farm listed in Orange, with another two in Mudgee but owner Sophie Jones said .

“It thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to get people to come out here and see what a working farm is like,” she said. 

The farm recommends allowing two hours for a tour and fruit-picking with a farmer during cherry season.

Mrs Jones said people would be shown around the orchard, the cool room and the grading floor, followed by refreshments on the property.

She said cherry season was expected to start in November, followed by stone fruit, figs and apples.

“We get people calling in the winter months asking what’s on the trees,” she said.

“They’re aware that apples come from trees, but seasonality is one thing people need educating on.”

Asked whether the dry winter would affect the timing of the cherry crop, Mrs Jones said it was to early to tell because the trees were still in blossom.

“But if we got some rain, that would be really nice – not too much, but we definitely need some rain to give them a kick along to make fruit,” she said. 

DPI business and social resilience program manager Sonia Muir said spring was an ideal time to visit a farm because it was busy. 

“Some farmers are looking to add diversity to their farming operations and are keen to provide a window into farm life so people better understand what farmers do,” she said.

More than 60 farms are registered across the state.

“Depending on the farm, visitors can do things like pat an alpaca or a calf, feed the baby lambs, pick fresh fruit or watch a cow being milked,” Ms Muir said.

To book your farm visit, go to www.visitmyfarm.com.au.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/visitmyfarm.au.

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