Once again Mother Nature cooperated to help make the 2012 Coshocton County fall foliage and farm tour a visual delight with a backdrop of beautiful green hills and spectacular colors. Participants could go at their own pace through the countryside to visit any of the seven educational stops to learn about the diversity of agriculture ranging from a traditional dairy farm to a winery.
The first stop was The Animal Boutique and Villas just east of Coshocton. This facility features room to board 65 dogs and 10 cats. Other services include grooming, dog training, medical and surgery.
Terry Haymar from Columbus was taking in the sights along with his 97-year-old father, John, a retired sales representative for J.I.Case. "We like the Extension tours and go every year. We went on Knox County's a few weeks ago." He explained that he grew up on his mother and father's 60-acre farm in Westerville which has been sold for development. They went to every stop and were ready to head home after walking around Blue Ridge Whitetails and Blue Ridge Dairy, adjacent farms near Newcomerstown.
Ron Meyers, owner of Strawberry Hill Farms, said, "We counted 900 people on Saturday and today (Sunday) as of 2 p.m. we've seen 500." Myers, along with his wife, Mary, sell certified organic produce at the weekly Coshocton Farmer's Market, the Local Bounty store. In addition they have 35 local families they supply produce for through a community support agricultural (CSA) subscription program. Beside produce, they also raise pastured poultry, produce free-range eggs and grass fed beef on 12 acres of their 170-acre farm.
Another stop on the tour, Rainbow Hills Vineyard near Newcomerstown, has been in operation for 25 years and produces more than 30 thousand bottles of wine yearly. Owners Lee and Joy Wyse grow American Grapes and French hybrid varieties. Visitors had the chance to view the vineyard in addition to seeing the grape processing, bulk storage, bonded cellars and bottling room.
The lunch stop was at Progressive Valley Grange. The current building which stands on a third of an acre was dedicated on June 30, 1928 and the pine tree planted the same day still stands in front. A bottle with the names of all the members is buried under it. This is the third Grange in Adams Township. "At one time there were 18 different granges in Coshocton County, today there are about six left," explained Dean Wyler, a longtime member. Progressive Valley Grange currently has 70 members. "We were third in the nation for community service last year. We're trying for first place at the State Convention," Wyler said.
An additional stop was the Powell farm, a 220-acre crop farm where 4,000 hogs and 200 meat goats are raised. Their historical Pennsylvania Dutch fore bay barn is the Coshocton County Bicentennial barn.