YORK — From the late 1890s until about 1985, the family of Roe Inman cultivated the land around his ancestral homestead near York. They grew cotton, peaches, grapes and, finally, soybeans.
Inman, 53, has a wealth of memories of the farm that in its heyday spanned some 1,000 acres. And he plans to share them with visitors in a new Western York County agri-tourism venture that will open June 8.
Im so grateful to have been a part of this final chapter, Inman said of the farm. Much of the land has been sold, he said, but the farm retains about 290 acres. Visitors will be able to tour the site, learning what is was like to farm in York County beginning in 1893.
Local dignitaries and others got a sneak preview of the agri-tourism attraction last week, during a soft opening that included guided tours, historic interpretations and wagon rides.
One of the highlights is the farms second peach-packing shed. The first shed was built in downtown York, next to the railroad, when peaches left York County by train.
The second shed located just off S.C. 5, on the right side of the homestead that anchors the property, still with original equipment was built in 1951 when trucks hauled the produce. The shed will house a new produce stand, The Market at Inman Farms, which will open Saturday.
The farm will be available also host weddings, reunions and special events.
In addition to the peach packing shed, tours will include the large, two-story main house, a smoke house, corn crib, cotton house and a tenant home, called Melas house, which still remains on the property.
Inman said he learned some of his greatest life lessons from the tenant farmers who once worked the land. He recalled being told to hoe grapes, which seemed insurmountable. You just take it one row a time, Inman remembers one tenant farmer telling him.
Inman said his ancestors, Claude Monroe Inman and Cora Carroll Inman, purchased the original 290-acre property, which included the present homestead, in 1893 for $5,379.50. During the next 44 years, he said, they expanded their holdings to 1,100 to 1,200 acres by buying adjacent farms.
They had six children, he said. After Claude died in 1938, Inman said, all four of the sons eventually joined to manage the land, bringing it back from being deep in debt to a viable operation.
York Mayor Eddie Lee, who spoke during the opening, said the Inmans were survivors with a passion for the land. He said the farm enables people in Western York County to celebrate where we came from not so long ago.
Farms like this are special places, Lee said. I could almost call them outdoor museums, and that is what agri-tourism is.
In the early years of the farm, when cotton was king, Lee said, that was the main crop at Inman Farms. But the blight of the boll weevil in the early 1920s ruined most of the cotton. Then, he said, peaches became the mainstay.
Concord grapes were introduced later, in 1962, when the Piedmont region became second only to California in grape production. The grape crop once celebrated with a community event in York called the Grape Festival lasted until the root bore destroyed them, he said.
Then, he said, Inman moved on to raising soybeans. Farming ceased about 1985.
York County Council member Joe Cox said he hopes the farm enables a young generation to learn about the regions past. Its a good teaching tool, if its done right, he said.
Don Worthington with The Herald contributed to this report.