Jessica Bolesta had her sights set on a career off the family farm. “I originally planned to be an athletic trainer,” Bolesta says. But that all changed when Ken Corbett Farms LLC, owned by her parents, acquired some land bordering Highway 41. Bolesta says driving through that field stoked an idea of a farm market, something the Corbett family had long discussed.
“Seeing the traffic pass by, the idea of a farm market really started to get legs,” she says.
A seminar on roadside markets and agritourism gave the Corbetts other ideas on how to attract farm visitors. As a result, Bolestra founded Raisin’ Cane in 2013.
“I am really passionate about our family’s farm, and the decision was easy to continue to work alongside the rest of the family,” she says. Her husband Eric also works for Ken Corbett Farms.
Raisin’ Cane combines a year-round farm market with seasonal agritourism activities like a fall corn maze. In 2014, the brand new venture will feature a professionally designed, interactive maze with a Wild West theme in the fall, complete with a cowboy on a horse and 18 game stations, which visitors navigate with a game sheet. Raisin’ Cane also hosts year-round school tours, where students learn about the operation of the farm. Guests can find seasonal produce and prepared and ready-to-bake foods in the market.
Raisin’ Cane already has seven employees, plus part-time help during the busy season. “We have had to double our workforce since we first opened our doors and are looking forward to expanding in the future,” Bolesta says.
The name “Raisin’ Cane” came from the family’s sugar cane crop. This year, a sugarcane syrup room is being set up so that visitors can watch sugarcane being ground and made into syrup in the fall. The farm also features an observation beehive. In March 2014, Raisin’ Cane hosted a professional rodeo for the Lake Park Chamber of Commerce and plans to repeat that event.
The addition to the Corbett’s farm business gives the family a new way of looking at their own products.
“Our family has always sold our produce wholesale to distributors,” Bolesta says. “Raisin’ Cane is completely different because our products are being sold directly to consumers.”
That helps the family farm build relationships with the community.
“We are able to connect with the people who are putting food on their table,” she says. “The biggest compliment is having customers come back regularly.”