Everyone's invited to a day down on the farm during the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District's first ever drive-it-yourself farm tour, set from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.

The day will be a "great opportunity to have hands-on education" for both consumers and those experienced with farming, said Dona Rhea, the conservation district's educator.

Those not experienced with farms can enjoy some fun activities and examine farm equipment up close as they visit five locations in the county, she said.

Meanwhile, more experienced folks can learn more about the latest techniques in preventing soil erosion and maintaining clean water.

Those efforts are among the main goals of the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District since it was created in 1944, Rhea said: "To conserve soil and maintain water quality to support everyone."

Agriculture continues to be the No. 1 industry in Ohio, said Bonnie Dailey of the conservation district.

Ohio has almost 14 million acres of farmland, contributing $105 billion annually to the state economy.

While the tour is a first for Delaware County, nearby Knox County has held a similar "Heart of Ohio" farm tour for decades. Rhea said the Delaware district contacted Knox County for advice.

Lee Walker, Knox County district technician, said that county's farms have welcomed visitors during the tour each year since 1972.

In addition to the focus on soil and water, tour visitors can make lip balm, pet baby goats and lambs, participate in a quiz-show contest and sample honey and maple syrup. Children can ride pedal tractors around a course.

Visitors can drive to and stop at the following locations at no charge:

* Sherman Farms, 16140 Peerless Road, Centerburg. Visitors can see antique Allis Chalmers farm machinery up close, learn about conservation practices to improve water quality and race on the children's pedal-tractor course.

The Shermans were recognized as an Ohio Conservation Farm Family in 2017, and the farm has been in the family more than 100 years.

* Wholesome Harvest CSA, 8628 Todd Street Road, Sunbury. Visitors can see produce grown in a seasonal high tunnel, learn how to manage a woodland, taste honey and maple syrup and make their own grapevine wreath.

* Bret Davis Seeds LLC, 4593 Troy Road, Delaware. Visitors can watch a self-driving tractor and examine the latest technological devices that farmers use in planting, harvesting, applying soil amendments and keeping records.

The Ohio Soybean Council will have hands-on children's activities, such as making lip balm. The Tri-Township Fire Department and Ohio State University Extension staff will demonstrate a grain-bin rescue.

* Hardscrabble Farms Inc., 2514 Skinner Road, Delaware. Three families work together on this 106-year-old farm. Visitors can have their photo taken sitting in the driver's seat of a combine. The farm will have a petting zoo with baby goats and lambs. Visitors also can meet community teens interested in pursuing careers in agriculture.

* Doutt Reservoir, 9773 Taway Road, Radnor. The city of Columbus is opening the gates for walking tours to the top of the dam, normally closed to the public. Visitors can view the 850-acre reservoir and see how the city participates in the Delaware County Drainage Maintenance Program.

Visitors can stop at some or all of the five sites in whatever order they choose.

Additional details, including a map, are available at www.delawareswcd.org.

The conservation district is on Facebook at facebook.com/delawareswcd.

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