Summer Tour to Show Off Farms

The fifth annual summer tour of innovative farms and farm markets is set for Aug. 31 and will focus on five Winchester operations.

This year's tour will begin at Rinker Orchards, a family apple orchard started almost 100 years ago. The tour will also include Richard's Fruit Market, Marker-Miller Orchards, the pumpkin patch at Hill High Farm, and the Virginia Farm Market.

The farm tours increasingly have drawn more visitors from outside the area, said Andrew C. Gerachis, Loudoun County's horticulture agent. Recent attendance is a change from earlier years when most tourists were Loudoun's senior residents. Now, "people will easily travel 15 to 30 miles," Gerachis said.

In addition, the tour has become more interactive, he said, a trend that reflects the changing nature of farming. Farmers have catered to baby boomers and their children, who enjoy taking part in farming experiences, Gerachis said. For example, the Hill High Farm allows visitors to pet the farm animals, pick their own pumpkins and examine antique farm equipment.

The tour is sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Farmer's Direct Marketing Association.

To register for the tour, which lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., call Cathy Belcher at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-786-4046, or visit the cooperative extension's Web site at http://www.ext.vt.edu/summertour/index.html. The cost is $40; the deadline to register is Monday.

Realtors, Chamber to Gauge Candidates

The Dulles Association of Realtors and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce will meet later this month with candidates in the November election and prepare a report on candidates' positions on business-related issues.

The Realtors Political Action Committee, part of the association, will use the report to determine the campaigns to which it will contribute. All candidates for the Board of Supervisors and the General Assembly have been invited to participate in the interviews, which will be conducted individually.

The report will be available to chamber and association members Oct. 1. Nonmembers can contact the association at 703-777-2468, or the chamber at 703-777-2176, to obtain a copy.

Chamber Golf Tourney Seeks Sponsors

The Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce will hold its 17th annual golf classic at the Raspberry Falls Golf and Hunt Club in Leesburg on Sept. 13.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the chamber, Interfaith Relief, the Jeremiah House, Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter and the Loudoun Association of Retarded Citizens. The chamber is seeking sponsors for the event and offers various levels of sponsorship, including sponsorships for a single hole or tee. Individuals who wish to play in the tournament will be put on a waiting list until the corporate sponsorship slots have been filled.

For information, call Randy Collins, chamber president, at 703-777-2176, or Joe Humphries, executive vice president of the Potomac Bank of Virginia and tournament chairman, at 703-319-9000.

Please fax items for Thursday's business page to Sarah Schafer at 703-777-8437, or send them by mail to 305 Harrison St. SE, Leesburg, Va. 20175, or by e-mail to schafers@washpost.com.