Fall is the perfect time for a family farm outing
Searching for a fun way to step away from your daily grind? The answer may be no further than your nearest local orchard, farm stand or working family farm, where you can reconnect with the land and see firsthand where your food comes from.
Across the state, agritourism sites—from orchards and corn mazes to bison ranches and pumpkin patches—are opening their doors to visitors to showcase just how much fun a day on the farm can be.
“Farm visits offer an entertaining and educational experience for kids and grown-ups alike,” says Sharon Spencer, director of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s direct farm marketing division. “So many of us are so removed from farms these days, and agritourism sites offer a chance to get up close and personal with a farmer.”
There’s no better way to spend a fall day than at the pumpkin patch. For generations, Baldwin Farms has welcomed guests to its 154 acres just outside Richmond for fall festivals featuring a corn maze, local handcrafts and foods, and fun activities for kids including a hay maze, pony rides, rolling tumblers and pumpkin picking. There’s also a bevy of farm animals to meet and greet, from the resident goats and dairy cow to Baldwin’s many dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens. The farm opens to fall visitors September 26 this year.
Once the fall harvest season is over, there’s still a great reason to visit: Baldwin Farms grows a limited number of Christmas trees, which go on sale the day after Thanksgiving. The farm has also become a December go-to destination, thanks to its wide variety of handcrafted wreaths and winter greenery.
“We have sometimes as many as three generations who come to our farm, and it’s become a family tradition for them,” says Margery Baldwin, a Blue Grass Energy consumer-member who has owned the farm since 1977. “One of the things I most value is the family feel here and the traditions that have built up here over the years. Part of the joy of farming for me is to be able to share it with the community.”
At Gallrein Farms just east of Shelbyville, open to visitors from early April to the end of October, you’ll find greenhouses and field beds packed with a rotating array of homegrown flowers, strawberries, tomatoes, corn, green beans, pumpkins and more, depending on the season.
Hungry during your visit? The family-run farm features an on-site bakery and cafe, serving a variety of sandwiches and paninis as well as homemade fudge, doughnuts, cookies and candies. For those looking to host a special event with farm flair, Gallrein offers a rentable 6,500-square foot, climate-controlled pavilion. For an up-close dose of farm animal fun, the farm’s petting zoo—home to donkeys, chickens, cows, sheep and even alpacas—is always a favorite attraction.
In the fall, kids and kids at heart can enjoy an array of fun activities, including a haunted house and mini train rides, a corn maze, jump pillows, obstacle courses and, of course, a hayride to the pumpkin patch.
“Our customers tell us all the time they appreciate us being here so that their children can come to a farm, see how things grow, and visit with farm animals,” says Shelby Energy consumer-member Randie Gallrein, who runs the farm’s market with her husband, Bill. “People just enjoy coming out to the farm, and that means a lot to us.”
Truett Pumpkin Patch
Have you fully enjoyed fall if you haven’t yet gotten just a bit turned
around in a corn maze? In McKee, residents will point you to the maze at Truett Pumpkin Patch as a fine annual test of your field navigation skills.
Owned and operated by Tim Truett, a Jackson Energy consumer-member and principal at McKee Elementary School, the yearly 8-acre corn maze—which typically features a current-events related design—is only part of the fun.
While there, you can also pick out a pumpkin, enjoy tractor rides and hay bale mazes, and even watch gourds get blasted by the farm’s pumpkin cannon. On Friday evenings, the attraction presents live bluegrass and gospel music performances.
“We started our pumpkin patch seven years ago because there weren’t any fall activities, real close, for people to do here,” Truett says. “We wanted to make this a fun, community-building event for our area.”
The farm is open Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to dark from the last weekend in September until the end of October.
Blackfish Bison Ranch
Want to feel as if you’ve traveled back in time? Make the journey to Winchester to visit Blackfish Bison Ranch, where majestic bison still roam the range.
Tours of the 242-acre ranch just outside the city limits are offered by advance reservation, giving visitors a chance to get up close to the iconic creatures. You’ll also learn about the storied, spiritual role bison played in Native American culture and how they factor into the Christian tenets of owner/operator Brandeon Hampton, who uses Scripture as a motivating force for his work.
According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, by 1902, the bison herd in the U.S. had dropped to just 23 at Yellowstone National Park, with 700 others in private herds. “Now, now we’re back up to 500,000, and the National Bison Association has a goal of getting that up to 1 million,” says Hampton, who often works as a consultant for other farms across the country that, like his, are dedicated to expanding America’s bison herd.
Blackfish Bison Ranch sells bison meat for individual customers as well as restaurants. Most tours end with the chance to taste the ranch’s bison jerky.
“Bison aren’t like domesticated animals that sometimes overgraze the land. When bison graze, everything starts coming back. We have 10 new species of birds on the farm, and native grasses and wildflowers that we hadn’t seen before,” says Hampton, a Clark Energy consumer-member. “They’re such good stewards of the land and an awesome regenerative tool for the landscape.”
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Cincinnati in Wilder, Kentucky, Sunrock Farm lets you immerse yourself in farm life—even if only for a few hours.
Founded as an educational farm, Sunrock offers both school field trips and family tours, giving city and suburban kids and their families a way to experience memorable, only-on-a-farm activities like gathering eggs, shearing a sheep, brushing a horse, planting and harvesting vegetables or bottle-feeding a baby goat.
Through a variety of hands-on opportunities—this is a place where kids are encouraged to hug many of the animals—the farm hopes to convey a joy of the outdoors and an appreciation for the relationship of people to the plants and animals of the natural world.