FRANKFORT, Ky. — When autumn finally sets in, the days will begin to cool, the pumpkins in the patch will be ripe for picking, and a tractor tugging a wagon full of people sitting atop hay bales will become a common sight across rural Kentucky.
“Fall is absolutely the best time for agritourism!” said Dr. Amelia Brown Wilson, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s agritourism director. “There are so many opportunities to take advantage of.”
The added dollars that agritourism generates have become a godsend to many working Kentucky farms.
“Agritourism has kept many farms in operation,” Wilson said. “I love hearing stories from our operators on how agritourism saved their family farm. I also love working with producers who have an interest in starting an agritourism destination."
Following are three agritourism destinations in different regions of the state:
Owners Matt and Amanda Gajdzik
1330 Mulberry Pike, Shelbyville
Phone: (502) 220-7516
Open July to October
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday
1-5 p.m. Sunday
Attractions at Mulberry Orchard, located in northeast Shelby County near the community of Cropper, include a corn maze, hayrides through the orchard, picking your own pumpkin, visiting farm animals, and playing in a kids’ area. Adults will enjoy shopping in the farm market or just enjoying the beautiful scenery from a rocking chair.
The orchard grows 15 varieties of both peaches and apples so everyone can find their favorites. Apples will be harvested through October. The market has fresh local produce available through November, as well as local honey, eggs, beef jerky, apple cider, and a variety of jellies and preserves.
White Oak Pumpkin Patch at 130-year-old Oldfield Farm near the White Oak community in Morgan County offers more than over 60 varieties of pumpkins, gourds, squash, Indian corn, straw, foddershocks, and hay.
Educational field trips from September through the first week of November teach about the life-cycle of a pumpkin and interesting facts pertaining to the animals raised at the farm.
Visitors can take a hayride to the pumpkin patch, pet the animals, paint a pumpkin, or stroll to the patch with a wagon to pick your own pumpkin. Children will love the hay fort in the play area and a soybean maze, while the corn maze is fun for all ages. Starting at 7 p.m. every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during October, the corn maze becomes haunted.
The barn is stocked with unique seasonal decorations for harvest through Christmas, including handmade wreaths and bows. Also on sale are tire swings, original artwork, gifts, and souvenirs.
Christian Way Farm & Mini Golf
Owners Milton and Janie Corley
19590 Linville Road, Hopkinsville
Phone: (270) 269-2434
Open September and October
10 a.m. until dark Monday to Saturday
(golf has extended hours because course is lit)
April to August and November by appointment only
Christian Way Farm and Mini Golf in northeastern Christian County near the community of Fearsville is perhaps the only agritourism destination in the state with its own miniature golf course.
The farm will open its pumpkin patch on Sept. 17. Hands-on experiences include picking pumpkins and grinding corn to feed farm animals. There’s also a corn maze, wagon rides pulled by an antique tractor, and a play area for kids featuring a hay castle, tricycle race track, and corn trucks.
A gift shop in a converted barn is used to sell locally crafted items and other mementos.
Dozens more agritourism destinations are located all across the Commonwealth. More information is available on the state agritourism website, kentuckyfarmsarefun.com.
“Please take a look at the Kentucky Farms are Fun website,” Wilson said, “and go visit a destination near you!”