Fall is the time of apple picking, corn mazes and pumpkin patches. One of my colleagues here at American Farm Bureau has a farm in Hamilton, Virginia. He makes the 50 mile trek to DC on a daily basis but his face lights up with joy when talking about his farm. Tyler and his wife Harriet offer pick-your-own pumpkins, gourds and raspberries in the fall and strawberries and blackberries in the spring. When the Wegmeyers bought this 19th century farmstead to plant it with fruit, it had already been home to a grist mill, a dairy farm, beef cattle and horses.
What is a bit different with Tyler and Harriet’s farm is that visitors can’t leave without increasing their agriculture knowledge. A 25 minute long educational hayride and a corn maze is the signature experience for fall visits to the farm. Guests are given a quiz sheet while boarding the hayride and must find the scarecrows during the ride who hold the answers to ag questions. In order to successfully navigate the corn maze, visitors must first select the right answer from an agriculturally-geared question.
Visiting Wegmeyer Farms gives visitors a truly authentic, real life feel about farming. It’s a family run farm that provides the Wegmeyers a great way to raise their family. Tyler and Harriet and their three little boys Torsten(6), Tucker(4) and Colden(2) are always out in the barn, in the field or on the hayride wagon helping customers and answering questions. It’s good ol’ fashioned fun, and both kids and adults have a great time.
There are many ways to find agritourism activities in the area where you live with an internet search for agritourism, farm tour, or farm visit. You have already seen on this site the agritourism initiative created by Jo Daviess County Farm Bureau in partnership with their local tourism board, which has now expanded to a more regional site at http://farmersmarketillinois.com/ .
Also, I recently got a blog comment from Charlie Presley who explained that he had a site to help people find agritourism related farms and markets. AgritourismWorld has 1,500 listings and is viewed by 5,000 group travel planners a month. Listings are free to farms, markets and ag related destinations. Or if you want total immersion for a few days, you might try a farm stay.
When you have an opportunity to visit a farm this fall, grab the chance. You’ll enjoy the trip back to experience the roots of your ancestors who were proud to get their hands dirty in order to put food on our tables.