Ag tourism strengthens rural economy | News, Sports, Business

Lena Galing, 72, a fourth-generation farmer and co-owner of Lippencott Alpacas in Waynesburg, feeds one of the 17 alpacas in the herd on Sept. 13, 2022. Lippencott farm tours available. Joyce Hanz | Tribune-Review

WAYNESBURG (AP) – Explore the green acres of Greene County with a day trip focused on agritourism.

According to JoAnne Marshall, director of the Greene County Tourism Promotion Agency, tourism in Greene County created more than 480 jobs and visitors spent more than $78 million in the county in 2019.

The county’s main crop was wool, and the rolling farmland displays Mail Pouch advertisements on barns and boasts seven covered bridges dating back more than 100 years.

Agritourism in the Waynesburg area offers several farm tours open to the public with plenty of room to walk.

“Our heritage was originally in sheep farming and we fully support continuing to recognize our heritage” Marshall said.

Kissing an alpaca

Get up close and personal with 17 alpacas at Lippencott Alpacas Farm, about an hour south of Pittsburgh.

“Agritourism is what keeps us in business” said co-owner Lena Galing, the fourth generation to live in the same house where she grew up on her 179-acre family farm.

Galing and her husband, Philip, run year-round tours of their herd and farm shop, featuring alpaca wool clothing and accessories.

“Dress for the weather” they advised.

Before the tour, the Galings provide photos and fun facts about alpacas.

“Being around alpacas will calm every nerve. What’s not to love when you look at their big eyes and cute faces?” Lena Galing asked.

Relatives of the camel, alpacas are commonly bred for their amazing fiber and are known to have a gentle temperament.

“We breed Huacaya alpacas that look like furry teddy bears” Lena Galing said.

Visitors can hand-feed alpacas and learn about different types of fiber.

Lippencott provides a full-service alpaca business with breeding, diversified genetics, a starter herd and mentoring.

“Our goal is to raise high quality alpacas and then pack them as starter herds to help others raise quality alpacas on their farms.” Lena Galing said.

The average price of an alpaca can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

A former teacher, Galing uses her teacher’s techniques to provide an engaging and educational tour experience. He said that visitors enjoy it “touch and feel” items and hand feeding the alpacas.

Topics covered include fiber arts, raising and caring for alpacas, and types of alpaca fiber.

“My only regret is that we didn’t start sooner – this is our 17th year in business” Philip Galing said.

Livestock and conservation

James Cowell farms the land he walked on as a child.

From lifelong friendships to involvement in 4-H, Cowell opened Frosty Springs Farm in 1974 after finishing his career as a coal miner.

The Cowells offer free tours of their 500-plus acre farm in hopes that people will better understand a working farm focused on conservation practices and humane treatment of livestock.

“It helps educate people about where their food comes from and that beef and other foods don’t just magically appear in the grocery store.” Cowell said.

Tours include visits to donkey pastures where dozens of guard donkeys are raised to help with farm safety and to be sold as guard animals to other farms.

“They are great at protecting calves and other small livestock from predators.” Cowell said.

Cowells follows the nutrient management program and manure storage practices established by the Conservation District.

Frosty Springs has won multiple awards, including the 2017 Clean Water Award-PA Conservation District and the 2019 Pennsylvania Council of State Farm Organizations inaugural PSCFO’s Agriculture Award.

The PSCFO award recognizes individuals who have dedicated themselves to promoting the interests of farmers and increasing consumer understanding of the importance of the agricultural industry.

In 1999, Frosty Springs expanded from 47 acres to over 500 acres, where he raised 60 cow/calf pairs, including a commercial herd of Red Angus cows.

The farm sells beef regionally in three states.

Visitors can see the rolling hills of Greene County and learn about Red Angus cows and purebred Simmental cows.

At the end of the calving season, the herd reaches 100.

“Farmers are stewards of the land, water and animals, and they care about doing things right and humanely. It’s not a job, it’s a way of life.” James Cowell said.

Creativity meets cuisine

Embrace an artisan dining experience and shop for specialty pottery at Kiln to Table Café on South Richhill Street in downtown Waynesburg.

House-made dishes served in hand-crafted dishes combine owner/artist Jennifer Adamson’s passion for pottery and farm-fresh food, just a stone’s throw from the eatery.

Adamson, 49, creates her artisanal pottery in a room behind the kitchen.

Choose from a delicious rotation of comfort food like coffee drinks, specialty milkshakes, gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups, salads, flatbreads and meaty burgers.

Daily specials are always on the board and breakfast is served all day on Saturdays.

“I want to exceed our customers’ every expectation by offering warm, welcoming service, exceptional food, art and culture” Adamson said.

The fried Reuben is the best seller.

In 2015, Adamson opened a pottery studio in Waynesburg, where he later designed and launched Pennsylvania Mug Co., which specializes in custom mugs for Etsy and local coffee shops.

Adamson partners with local farms to provide commemorative bowls for local festivals each May, including the Sheep and Fiber Festival, the White-Covered Bridge Festival and the Monday Art Blast.

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