As the calendar flips to October, Alabamians of all ages are gearing up for one of the state’s best-kept secrets — an awesome autumn adventure at pumpkin patches, apple orchards, corn mazes and other agritourism sites.
“There’s a large desire for people to come to farms,” said Lindsey Griffin, whose family operates Griffin Farms Pumpkin Patch in West Blocton. “I want people to visit, slow down and enjoy the day in a fun, safe, family friendly environment.”
Families, sorority sisters, church groups, students and more ease into a slower pace when they step on the farm, Griffin said.
Picking pumpkins might be a visitor’s priority, but most agritourism operations offer diverse activities that capture patrons’ interests beyond the gourd.
Craft vendors, tire mountains, swings, equipment-turned-playgrounds and carnival-like food stations dot the state’s top fall farm destinations. Some farms offer petting zoos, hayrides, inflatable bounce houses, rock walls and sunflower fields, while others boast larger-than-life hay bale sculptures of superheroes, animals and pop culture characters.
Alabama’s agritourism areas are mostly open on weekends, but weekday field trips immerse students into farm life. Freedom from the classroom doesn’t hurt, either.
“We try to teach kids about farming, but they really want to run and play,” said Griffin, who owns the pumpkin patch with husband Brandon and father-in-law Barry. “I think the teachers have just as much fun, too.”
Educator Alica Jones of Krackerjax Learning Center in Bibb County agreed.
“The kids look forward to going to the pumpkin patch every year and really love playing in the corn bin,” Jones said. “Some of our students may have livestock at home but may not know you plant a seed and then it grows into something like a pumpkin. The week we go to the patch, we plant pumpkin seeds in class, which helps our 4-year-old students make that connection.”
Take note from experts like Jones this fall — slip on an autumnally embellished outfit, load up the car and head to the farm for an ag-packed adventure.
Want to get social? Post agritourism photos with #FarmingFeedsAlabama for a chance to be shared on the Alabama Farmers Federation’s social media channels.
Click here for a list of fall agritourism adventures.