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Fall for Fun! – Agritourism in Georgia
Agritourism. You may have heard the word before but never really stopped to think about it. What is agritourism? And how is agritourism in Georgia helping both producers and consumers in this ever-changing world?
Combining agriculture with tourism, agritourism brings the people to the plains, prairies, fields and dales. Farms throughout Georgia have opened their (barn) doors and now welcome us city folk to experience fun like we haven’t seen round these parts in many a year!
Why are they doing this? Because farming is hard, y’all. Real hard. All it takes is a late frost and you’ve lost your crop of peaches. Farms everywhere are looking for extra ways to stay afloat in the market of today, and we need to support them because farms are important!
Take your kids to the grocery store. Ask them if they know where certain items in the produce section comes from, or if they know how we get milk in a carton. Depending on your parenting style and the age of your child, you may even ask them if they know where those chicken nuggets started. When outside at play, instead of swatting at the bees outside, have you stopped to think about how important they are, and in turn, teach your child how important the bees are to our lives and to not only leave them alone, but plant items in your yard that help them do their jobs? (If you follow me on other social media, you know that I am very worried about the bees!)
If you are a Georgian, does your family know that we are more than the Peach State? We are also the Blueberry State, the Peanut and Pecan State. We still grow cotton in South Georgia, we have our own onions and a town named after them (or is the other way around?) and those packs of chicken you see at your grocery store? They probably came from North Georgia poultry farms. We’re heading into fall, and what does that mean for us farm visitors?
Here it is, a beautiful autumn weekend in the South and you are pining to get out of the house, take in some fall activities with the family, but maybe you are new to town and don’t know where to go, or if you are like me, all your old ‘secret’ places are no longer secret with the nearly 6 million Metro Atlantans hanging around. If that’s you, you’re in luck! I recently went on an Agritourism in Georgia Farm Tour with some other great bloggers and my lovely social media assistant, (my daughter, KBug), and have a list of must-do fall activities that celebrate the fall harvest time just a short drive south of Atlanta.
Fall fun on the farm! – Hayrides, corn mazes and pig races!
Southern Belle Farms originally began as a dairy farm in the 1930s and has continued through 3 generations of family calling this 330-acre spread of land in Mcdonough, Georgia home.
Open seasonally, Southern Belle Farm has something for everyone! In the fall, there’s so much to do, you’ll want to spend the whole day! Hayrides, corn mazes, pig races and pumpkin picking is just the start, you’ll also find a country store with fresh farm grown goodies, including a bakery baking up all those delicious smelling fall treats like apple turnovers, but also pedal carts, jumping pillows and so much more! There are over 20 attractions for you in between the 4 acres of corn and 2 acres of pumpkins you can get lost in (but don’t worry, you won’t). Check out their Fall Feature Page for times, prices and directions.
Special mention to Jaemor Farms in Alto, Georgia. We weren’t able to visit them with such a tight schedule during our tour, but the family and I plan to go out for the day soon to experience all of their fall fun. I can’t wait to see all that they have in store for us! Be sure to follow all of my social media for posts, pictures and tweets regarding our fun.
Take a drive out into the country and find something new!
Farmview Market in Madison, Georgia really stands by the concept of bringing Farm to Table and jumps right in to agritourism in Georgia. With a market plus restaurant sourced with local and regional farmed products, this place is worth taking a drive out to the country for a few hours to shop and eat. I already have planned a Saturday drive out there with my husband for a little farmer’s market shopping, a good meal and maybe even some geocaching in an area of Georgia new to us. Even though a drive out into the country sounds nice after church on Sunday, don’t go then as that is when Farmview is closed.
Farmview Market saw the need to bring true, fresh, local goods to the consumers who were tired of getting strawberries from California at the grocery store when not 50 miles away, their local farmers had acres of strawberries ready for market. Something had to be done to meet the needs of both the farms and the consumers, and from that something, we now have a place where you know what you are getting is sourced right here.
We ate here for lunch during our farm tour, and boy howdy, that was some good food. The chicken salad was delicious, but that sliced tomato, like how my grandmother used to just slice up a Big Boy as a side dish for dinner, that tomato was the best tomato I had tasted since I was a little girl. I could eat a bushel more of tomatoes just like that one! After our lunch we had the chance to walk around and shop the market, and all I have to say is….I hope they eventually COME TO ATLANTA!!!
There’s very few markets that have the fresh local foods they had all while being a price competitive to their other local supermarkets. Beautiful marbled beef, ossabaw pork, so much fowl it’s almost foul, and the freshest of fishes right from their waters. Other than meats and produce, they carried already prepared items and ‘easy meals’ where you didn’t have to do a lot of work for good eats. The market also carried items like soaps, teas and other locally made natural products and even had a fresh-pressed juice bar! Fresh juice! I love juicing and what they had pressed was delicious! Definitely take a drive out to Madison and stop in at Farmview Market. Be sure to have a slice of Coca-Cola cake!
Dickey Farms is a family farm in Musella, Georgia that has been in operation since 1897! A visit to Dickey Farms is a visit to Georgia’s oldest peach packinghouse. An open-air facility where you can watch the peaches come in, be sorted and ready for market all while rocking back in a country store rocking chair, the packinghouse is the heart of this farm. It’s like you’ve stepped back into another era, and you want to stay there all day. By supporting agritourism in Georgia, you are supporting a way of life that is disappearing in a modern world.
When peach season is over and fall has begun, you can count on Dickey Farms to have your pumpkins, apples and pecans ready for all that fall baking you are gearing up for. With the gift shop and market open daily throughout October, you will find a little slice of small town heaven when you make the short drive from Atlanta. And don’t forget during your visit to have some peach ice cream. It is The. Best.
Pick-your-own: Pumpkins, fruits, berries, Christmas trees and more!
Spanning five generations, Mitcham Farm began in 1887 in Oxford, Georgia and today has hundreds of acres of berries, pumpkins, corn, and produce. With fall season beginning, they have all the fun ready with corn mazes, hayrides, super slides, corn cannons, corn silo (great for sensory play!), cow train, jumping stations, mechanical bull ride and so much more!
Located in Stockbridge, Georgia, Yule Forest has been serving up the kind of family fun that delights all ages since 1983. With hayrides and a hay maze, pumpkin patch, learning stations and fun zone, petting farm, science center and even puppet shows, this fun can go into the night with the haunted Fear the Woods trail that my daughter can’t wait to attend with her friends and siblings this Halloween season.
Located next to a STEM elementary school, Yule Forest combines fun and education and families leave here not only tired from the fun, but full of new knowledge and experiences. Agritourism in Georgia reaches our schools with field trips, speakers, films and more. By supporting agritourism in Georgia, you are supporting education, too!
What began as a dairy farm over the years turned to trees. Christmas trees! Now with hundreds of acres of beautiful Christmas trees, Berry Tree Farm is as dedicated to making southern Christmases as merry and bright as they possibly can. With train and hayrides, concessions, clean restrooms (seriously, you know how important this is when taking your family out for the day) and even visits with Santa starting mid November, Berry Tree Farm is the perfect place to start a new family tradition this year. Go out and find your own Christmas tree, visit with Santa and make memories that will last a lifetime.
We were really lucky that our visit coincided with the schedule of the tree trimmer as he came through making his final trims of the season. Check out this video of his flying hands. We were all calling him Edward (Scissorhands!).
Last on our farm tour was Lane Southern Orchards, in Fort Valley, Georgia where we toured the You-Pick crops, which includes fruits, berries and beautiful Zinnias, to the packinghouse, market and cafe (where we got a delicious and fast lunch to-go as our tour was at an end and it was time to drive back the group for departure).
Started in 1908, Lane Southern Orchards has over 6,000 acres of peaches and pecans, plus other fruit and berry crops and a corn maze for fall! The market is huge with all manners of down-home deliciousness around every corner. What I wouldn’t do for a bag of Cinnamon Pecans right now!
Make a Weekend of it!
The Rock Ranch in The Rock, Georgia is a place like no other. A 1,500 acre working cattle ranch, The Rock Ranch, founded by Chick-fil-A Founder Truett Cathy, is a place where you can spend the day, spend the night, or even spend the week! With activities ranging from zip-lining, train rides, a tiny town, fishing, and so much more, you’ll want to stay for longer! With Conestoga Wagons to camp in (which my teen thinks would be perfect for a fall youth rally) to the beautifully decorated farmhouses available to rent, it would be a great way to escape with your family for a few days to a simpler life, and with no wifi and signal not being that reliable, family time is what you are getting here!
The Rock Ranch hosted us for our night stay during our farm tour, and with a decent sized group, we split up into three houses. Bug and I had the smaller ‘Herdsman House.’ With just 2 of us, it was plenty spacious for us, and we slept well that night in the quiet, cozy home. This house, (and the others I saw later) was cheery in decor and had everything you could possibly need for a stay. The kitchen was completely stocked and there was a cabinet full of games for the family to play. Reading through the guest book, I read that many families have stayed there repeatedly throughout the years during their Spring Breaks, there are families that have stayed during holidays, and for just short getaways. Girls’ or guys’ trips, church trips, couples retreats. It was so nice to read the guest book and see that their slogan of ‘Growing Healthy Families’ also means that the guest and the ranch are also becoming their own healthy family, or as we like to call it in my house ‘framily.’
Because there is so much more to add to review about our overnight at The Rock Ranch, stay tuned for a review regarding accommodations and my roundabout circle of commonality I have with The Rock Ranch. Also, because we packed so much in to two days, I have lots more when it comes to photos, videos, thoughts and experiences with each of these fantastic farms. Be sure to keep following along, because the story there isn’t over, and really, we have only just begun!
A common thread
One thing most of these farms have in common is that they are multi-generational. Many members of the family are involved and range in ages and generations. They love what they do! These are farmers whose parents, grandparents, maybe even great grandparents began this calling on the land they call home. And farming is a calling. We fail to consider just how much farmers provide for everyone else. These families have held onto this land through wars and depressions, through the change in markets and decline of agricultural knowledge in our consumers; these farms have endured. They have found new ways to bring agricultural education to not just the children, but to us all, and they have done it with passion while maintaining the wholesomeness that is family life on the farm. No, it doesn’t have to be on a television show or in a novel; sweet family fun, the kind that makes you a little nostalgic does exist, and you can find it on one of these wonderful, well-loved family farms. Take some time this fall leaving the city and trying out one of these great places, or if you’re a reader farther away from the Atlanta market, look to see how examples of agritourism in Georgia are growing in your area and then do what you can to support it.
Be sure to keep following along because I am looking forward to bringing you more farms here in the South that take part in agritourism and how you can support them, too!
Fun Printables for your little farmers!
To get you and your little farmers ready for some fall farm fun, I have some great printables for you here! Be sure to click on them, save to your computer and print for highest clarity.all_commodities___gaa_activity_sheet
Have a fabulous fall and I’ll see you down on the farm!