About 150 members of the Statesboro community, including business leaders and students got out of the city Thursday for the 19th annual Agribusiness Tour sponsored by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce.
The 2010 tour featured three farms that had never been on the route before: Evermore Farm, Hunter Cattle and Ogeechee Alpaca.
Elliot Marsh, an agribusiness instructor at Ogeechee Technical College and co-chair of the chamber’s agribusiness committee, said that the event was a success.
Marsh said, “Bulloch County has a very diverse and robust agricultural economy, and as part of what the chamber does, we want to showcase everything that the county has.”
Peggy Chapman, president of the chamber, said that agriculture is still one of the biggest industries in the county.
“If a farmer is in agriculture now and they’re still farming, they’re one of the busiest and smartest business people in the state,” Chapman said.
Eleanor Ellis, owner of Evermore Farm, said that she believes her operation has a large impact on Bulloch County, particularly at Georgia Southern, where she teaches numerous equestrian classes each semester.
“I always love sharing our horses and letting everyone see how wonderful these animals are,” Ellis said. “This is our first year [on the tour] and I would like to think it’s going to be every year. I’m happy everybody came. This is great.”
Del Ferguson has been operating Hunter Cattle for nearly eight years. When he first started working, he said there was no grass on the farm at all. Now, the only thing the cattle in his beef production process eat is grass.
“With us not adding any growth hormones, not giving them any antibiotics, not giving them grain as well as other things, people are receiving it well and they’re actually thanking us,” Ferguson said. “At this point, we don’t have people knocking down our doors everyday to buy it, but for the people that do, we are very thankful that we’re able to do it for them.”
Visitors on the tour also were treated to a lunch that included some of the farm’s grass-fed beef before heading to the last stop of the day.
William Brannen, owner of Ogeechee Alpaca, said that people stop their cars in his driveway when they pass by the uncommon animals.
“They’ve never really been up-close and personal with an alpaca,” Brannen said. “I get a lot of people that just stop by, a lot of people come for visits and I’ve sold several to other people who have started their own farming operation.”
Kim Dehnert, of Statesboro, brought her 3-year-old son Judah along on the tour Thursday.
“We’re just excited to be here on a fun, free field trip to get to go and see more of the county, to meet some of the local farmers and have a wonderful lunch,” Dehnert said. “We just thought it would be a fun trip, and it has been.”