University City

Check out where your food is grown

A Davidson-based, family-owned business is trying to decrease the divide between consumers and their food.

In 2008, Wesley Shi and his sister Christy co-founded Know Your Farms. They now work with about two dozen Charlotte-area farms, buying food and delivering it to their customers who have signed up for their Community Supported Agriculture program.

Members pay a weekly fee, which can be reduced if the member participates in on-farm work projects to help out the local farms.

"It's a way to solidify the relationship between food buyers and food growers," said Shi.

Know Your Farms has also been hosting a Charlotte Area Farm Tour since 2009. The third annual farm tour will be Sept. 17-18.

"We'll have 30 farms and they'll be spread out around the Charlotte area in a ring," said Shi. "It's a good way to see the farms up close and personal."

The farms include Birdbrain Ostrich Ranch in Sherrills Ford, Barbee Farms in Concord, Rivendell Farms in Huntersville, and KC Farms in Mooresville. The full map can be found online.

"Almost every farm that has produce and meats will have food for sale," said Shi, so he recommends bringing a cooler. Farms will also feature activities like hayrides.

This year, Know Your Farms is hosting a fundraising dinner on the first night of the tour to benefit Friendship Trays, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg nonprofit that delivers more than 600 meals daily to the elderly, disabled, or those who are sick or homebound. Tickets for the dinner are for sale online, with only 100 seats available.

Tickets for the tour can be pre-ordered online for $25 per vehicle or bike group, or on the day of the tour for $30. Tickets can be used for each farm on the tour.

"We're expecting this year to have a lot of interest," said Shi. "Each year we've doubled so far (in visits). We have a great trend that's going."

In the first year of the tour, there were about 600 initial visits; the second year saw 1,200; and Shi hopes to have 2,500-3,000 visits this year.

He encourages everyone to come check it out.

"It's family-friendly," he said. "Children are most definitely welcome."

Shi said the tour will be beneficial for both the farmers and the visitors who will get to experience where their food is coming from.

"We're trying to help the small family farms around Charlotte survive," he said.