Agritourism was a hot topic at the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners regular meeting on Thursday, April 15. Both Stoney J’s Farm and Winery and Castleberry Farms were approved by commissioners to expand their businesses and welcome the benefits of agritourism.
Stoney J’s Farm and Orchard, located at 1506 Stoney Point Road, has been in the process of opening Forsyth County’s first winery. On Thursday, owners Sean and Stephanie DeNardo spoke before the board about their request for an alcohol license to have a farm winery.
“We’ve put a ton of time into what we’re doing over on Stoney Point [Road],” Sean said. “We’ve practically changed the whole aspect of the property there for Forsyth County and we hope to enjoy [the winery].”
Located in District 2, Sean explained that he had originally spoken to previous commissioner Dennis Brown about the winery a “couple of years ago.” Since then, the DeNardos have been working to open their winery and have been “getting calls left and right” from citizens who have been anticipating the grand opening.
Current District 2 Commissioner Alfred John said that he was supportive of the first winery in Forsyth County, and he expressed his interest in visiting once it was open.
“I look forward to visiting [Stoney J’s], so count me as a consumer,” John said.
Commissioners voted to approve the requested alcohol license for the DeNardos with a unanimous vote, making Stoney J’s Farm and Winery the first official winery in the county.
A county-initiated request was approved for Sam Castleberry on behalf of Castleberry Farms, located at 6630 Keith Bridge Road, for agritourism and agricultural sales.
Castleberry explained to the board that his family has been farming in Forsyth County for over 100 years, and while the county has been growing and developing, Castleberry said it has been harder for local farmers such as himself to make a living.
“One way that we would be able to continue to farm and hopefully have a future in farming would be to start an agritourism venture on our property,” Castleberry said.
Castleberry explained to the board that the farm’s plan is to sell locally grown produce, such as green beans and tomatoes, as well as beef. The farm also hopes to incorporate petting zoos, corn mazes and hay rides. Castleberry said that many of the activities and sales will be used to help himself and his family continue to farm and to allow other farmers participate in the community and farm for a living.
Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills asked about the cattle that will be raised and the beef that will be sold at the farm. Castleberry explained that he is currently in the process of getting the USDA to inspect and approve their products.
District 1 Commissioner Molly Cooper was also interested in some of the products that Castleberry hopes to sell, specifically the different types of produce.
Castleberry admitted that some of the items, such as peaches and watermelons, will have to be brought in from other parts of Georgia until Castleberry Farms was able to produce them in the “more northern soil.” Castleberry assured Cooper that all products that cannot be grown at the farm will be “from the state.”
Mills expressed her excitement for the project and said that she was “glad to support” it.
Commissioners voted to unanimously approve the county-initiated request for agritourism and agricultural sales at Castleberry Farms.