Preferring back roads when we head to North Carolina, we frequently pass Hillside Orchard Farms Country Store between Tiger and Lakemont, Georgia. Once long ago, we purchased a jar of their preserves at a roadside market in southern Georgia. It took us a while [pre-GPS and ubiquitous Google] to track the farm down, but we now make it a regular stop.
Hillside Farms opened an operation in Tiger in the 1980s making jams, jellies, pickles, relish, cider and syrup. Owners Robert and Patsy Mitcham decided to move the retail store to the family farm in 2004. Their intent was “to provide an educational and entertaining setting for people to learn about the heritage of a farm operation from another time.”
It seems the operation has grown a little each time we go back. It is now a tourist attraction, especially during harvest season.
They started with the store, an old-fashioned sorghum pan to cook down syrup, a half-mile walking trail and farm tours. By the time we first visited, they had added a bakery, an old moonshine still, old farm equipment, and a “gem mine” and had built a maze in a corn field. Now they have animals for children to pet and feed, hay rides, fruits and berries to pick, honey extracting, a stage for entertainment, and a modern ethanol distilling operation.
The “barn loft” above their “mine” is available for parties, meetings and receptions. When we were there in August, it was used as a thrift store. There is an interesting thrift store sign on how to pay in my photos below.
Once we arrived early in the morning just in time to buy a cider donut still warm from the oven — heaven!
Click on photos to enlarge.