Hickman County Arts and Ag Tour – A Personal Look at Farming and Artistry By Rachel Holder

From goat farms to greenhouses, Hickman County is once again gearing up to show off its hidden gems of the agricultural industry. During the Second Annual Hickman County Arts and Ag Tour, locals and visitors alike will have the opportunity to take to some of Middle Tennesseeâ€TMs most beautiful back roads for an up- close- and- personal look at farming and artistry.

“This really started as a grass roots effort for local artisans and farmers to be able to promote their businesses, as well as a way to educate people about sustainable agriculture and shopping locally,” says Vanessa Davis, creator and co-organizer of the tour, and owner of Tottyâ€TMs Bend Soap Company. “A lot of folks here do gardening, farming, and crafts out of their homes so we wanted to let customers get a behind- the- scenes look at how we create our products. We also want people to realize how small- scale business and agriculture go hand -in -hand.”

The Arts and Ag Tour is free to the public and takes place over Memorial Day weekend. The event features everything from local artisans and farmers, to musicians and authors. And donâ€TMt expect just your ordinary run-of-the-mill horse and cattle farms (although there are plenty of those, too). Youâ€TMll get a VIP view of a goat farm, an award- winning winery, a rose garden bearing 400 varieties, and a lavender farm. In addition to the farm tours, artisans will offer live demonstrations and wares for sale, including sculpture, wood working, home decor, vintage goods, leatherworks, stone creations, watercolors, and whole foods and artisan breads. Many of the stops also will feature live bluegrass music.

“We originally thought we might have four or five stops on the tour, but it really exploded when people heard about it,” says Nicole Lewis, co-organizer and owner of Fondue Vintage Homewares in Centerville. “Weâ€TMll have around 25 stops this year and each stop has several layers, including the tour of the farm itself, an artisan offering demonstrations, live music, the opportunity to pick your own produce, and free samples, too.”

To get started, visit the event webbsite at artsandagtour.wordpress.com. Here, youâ€TMll find free printable maps (available early May), or you can pick up a large, full- color souvenir map for $3 at the Wild Duck Soup Emporium on the Centerville Square. Organizers say the event is completely free and familyfriendly as well. You can start and stop anywhere you choose, from farms tucked away on back roads to the shops and eateries around the Centerville Square.

If youâ€TMre coming in from outside the Hickman County area, youâ€TMll find that Centerville is approximately 50 miles southwest of downtown Nashville. There are several places to stay, but the locals recommend the Chestnut Hill Bed and Breakfast (chestnuthillranch.com) or the campsites and cabins at Piney River Enterprises (alewisenterprise.com).

“In our first year, last May, we received an overwhelmingly positive reaction that none of us anticipated,” says Lewis. “I think what surprised us the most, though, was the reaction that came from folks right here in Hickman County. Most people had no idea we had all these hidden treasures in our backyard. The event created a lot of pride and an awakening of sorts among local folks. Everyone realized weâ€TMre not just this sleepy little area.”

“And I think the Arts and Ag Tour is about so much more than just the tour,” Davis chimes in. “Itâ€TMs an opportunity to see some beautiful scenery and back roads, enjoy the fresh air, and meet your Tennessee neighbors.”

For more information on the Arts and Ag Tour, visit the event blog at artsandagtour.wordpress.com.

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