By LAURA CARRELL
Courier Staff Writer
---- — FAIRFIELD — Before the fireworks start, "Celebrate the American Farmer" on July 4 with a farm crawl through Jefferson and Van Buren counties.
Sponsored by Hometown Harvest Southeast Iowa, the crawl is defined as a slow, intimate visit to several farms in the local area for the purpose of understanding food production and the farmers who work the land.
The 10 featured farms will hold their free open houses from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be served in two locations. Donations for a traditional Iowa lunch at Morris Park will go toward new siding for the old barn and museum, and Bubba Q's will be serving lunch at Barb Grijalva's stop on the crawl. At 6 p.m., a catered dinner will be served at Maasdam Barns. Tickets for the dinner are $35.
Jan Swinton, local food coordinator for Hometown Harvest, says the event is just one of three they're planning for the season.
"It's a free crawl, and you have the opportunity to come and go as you please," she said. "These farmers love to have people on their farm. They love to show where their food comes from. Many of them are farm market vendors, so there are people who love to buy from them that are going to have the opportunity to see their farms."
Each farm has a different story and theme for the day. Cory Klehm is a sixth-grade science teacher. Ernie Hinkle will be 89 this year and has had 30 foster children share his love for tulips and the orchard. Claude Nicholson has begun a national campaign to distribute his Aronia berry granola bars at RAGBRAI.
"You don't have to take them in order. You want to look at the map and decide what your highest priority is," Swinton suggested. "You think you'll have a 10-minute visit, but it turns into an hour and 10 minutes. You might not get to all of them , so choose accordingly."
Large flags and patriotic arrows will direct visitors from one farm to the next. Visit just one of the farms on the crawl or visit them all. For more details on each farm and the events they have planned, visit www.hometownharvestseiowa.org or call 641-472-6177. A map is available for download.
Farms open for the "Celebrate the American Farmer" tour are: * Claude Nicholson, "Sharon's Produce," 2664 Highway 1 South, Fairfield * Ernie Hinkle, "Leslie's Little Bit of Heaven," 531 Cedar St., Birmingham * Mel Stockwell, "Calico Press," 23096 Rt. J-16, Birmingham * Morris Park, "A Celebration of Farming," 10938 Timber Road, Stockport * Kim Keller, "Blooming Acres," 2340 Mint Blvd., Fairfield * Cory Klehm, "K5 Produce," 2348 Middle Glasgow Road, Fairfield * Wayne Nisley, "Brush Creek Greenhouse and Produce," 2009 Velvetleaf, Lockridge * Barb Grijalva, "Back to the Basics," 2254 136th St., Fairfield * Dawn Hunter, "Aurora Farms," 2301 Kale Blvd., Fairfield * Cedar Valley Winery, "Sophisticated Serenity," 2034 Dewberry Ave., Batavia * Maasdam Barns, "All-American Dinner," Highway 1 and 34, Fairfield