Feed mill joins farm tour

By Walt Frank

Visitors to the fifth annual Farm Discovery Tour of Morrisons Cove will have a unique opportunity – they’ll get to tour a 121-year-old feed mill.

Mill Hill Farm Supply with its feed mill on Canal Street in Williamsburg will be among six businesses participating in the Sept. 13 and 14 tour.

“It is a community awareness type event. It is a time to celebrate agriculture. It is the harvest season. We invite people to our farms. It is just a fun day,” said Chris Wise, tour founder, who owns Friends Farm with her husband, John Fazinger. “It is an opportunity for people to learn about farming and agriculture, where their food comes from. It is the only opportunity for some people to visit a farm.”

The feed mill at Mill Hill Farm Supply was built as a feed and flour mill by George W. Brown in 1902. He ran the business until his death in 1946. His two sons, Hylton and Norman, ran the mill until Gerald and Eleanor Barker purchased the business in 1947.

The Barkers operated the mill under the name Keystone Milling Co. until 1980. From 1980 until 1987, the mill operated as Keystone Feed and Flour Inc. under the direction of Ron and Marsha Bookhammer. James and Carol Biddle purchased the business in 1987 and continue to operate it today.

Tours will be held every half hour during the event which runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Flour hasn’t been made at the mill since the late 1980s, and today, the business focuses on manufacturing animal feeds.

“People need to see what is made and how it is made, and how hard the guys work. We need to keep the feed as clean as we keep milk. We want people to see the pride that our family takes in it,” said Sarrah Biddle, a dairy nutritionist who works with farmers to formulate the feeds.

Feed making is more of an art than a science, Biddle said.

“Tom [Oswald, mill manager] knows how to make the feed look nice and appealing to the animals. If it is too dusty, they don’t like it. Some minerals have a metallic taste; he pours in molasses or distillers to make it taste better for the animals,” Biddle said.

Mill Hill Farm Supply can custom make animal feeds for local farmers who bring in their corn, oats, wheat, barley, soybeans and various by products of corn.

In addition to making animal feed, Mill Hill Farm Supply also cleans, dries and stores grain for local farmers.

Numerous activities can be found at each of the locations, including:

  • Spring Farm Greenhouses on Hickory Bottom Road near Martinsburg will offer self-guided tours of all public and private gardens, train rides for children, treasure fishing on Saturday and an opportunity to pick fresh red raspberries.
  • Piney Creek Greenhouse north of Martinsburg will feature scarecrow making, pony cart rides and a solar water demonstration.
  • Friends Farm Market off Piney Creek Road near Oreminea will offer apple cider pressing, farm and garden tours, hayrides and a scavenger hunt for kids and fresh vegetables and homemade baked goods for sale.
  • Clover Creek Cheese Cellar on Clover Creek Road south of Williamsburg will offer cheese plant tours where people will have the opportunity to watch cheese making and walking tours of the farm.
  • The I’Diehl Hunt will offer farm tours where visitors can meet the dogs and birds, hunting dog demonstrations and clay pigeon shooting.

A good turnout is anticipated.

“Last year on Friday, we had 400 people at our farm and on Saturday at least that many. Each farm gets at least 500 visitors,” Wise said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.