ECHO, an organization dedicated to eradicating hunger worldwide, will hold its 23rd annual Farm Day on Saturday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at its headquarters on Durrance Road in North Fort Myers.
Hundreds of visitors are expected to come taste, experience and explore the grounds of the global farm, take tours of the grounds and enjoy workshops, demonstrations, food and fun while learning how farmers live worldwide.
Danielle Flood, marketing director, said it's like an open-air festival where people walk around the farm at their own pace and can stop at any of the demonstrations.
"It's very different from a normal tour in that you can learn about the rice or the peanut butter you can crush yourself," Flood said. "You can hug a chicken and see the goats, so it's very hands on and family friendly."
ECHO will hold its normal tours, but more enhanced. You will get to tour the bamboo, where there will be a 40-minute workshop, Flood said. There will also be a tour of the arboretum, where people stop and see the 100 fruit trees.
"There will also be an agro-forestry tour, a food forest and we will have workshops, 'Jumpstart your garden with containers,' on composting and alternatives to citrus trees," Flood said. "We want to educate people on what other trees they may want in their yard."
Flood said each region of the farm will have different themes. The dunes will have the "Weedopalooza Compost Bonanza Extravaganza." The mountains will talk about animals, the community garden will have recycling, and the rainforest will have a scavenger hunt for plants, among other things.
There will also be a Farmer's Market, silent auction displays, orange juice squeezing and other activities, Flood said.
Flood said the event started in 1992 as a way to serve the community and let people know what they do. It has grown to where more than 1,500 come annually and have a great time with staff and volunteers.
She also said ECHO was never intended to be a tourist attraction, but people asked if they could show them around.
"We had so many good interruptions that we started doing it once a week and has grown from there," Flood said. "Now we are hosting about 35 tours per week during season."
This, in turn, has allowed ECHO to raise funds for farm upkeep, with tours regularly $10.
LCEC, Publix and Sun Harvest Citrus are sponsors for the event.
Admission is $5 in advance, $7 the day of, with children 10 and under admitted free. ECHO?is at 17391 Durrance Road, off Bayshore Road.