What’s one surefire way to teach kids of all ages about agriculture? Take them to the farm. Agritourism destinations across Missouri provide a fun, educational opportunity for families, school groups and more to learn about agriculture while engaging in hands-on activities.
Fischer Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze
Take Fischer Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Jefferson City. Husband-and-wife team Jay and Kim Fischer, along with their 21-year-old daughter Jena, are row crop farmers – growing corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. But Jay has also been growing pumpkins his whole life, starting at 8 years old with his grandfather.
“We sold wholesale pumpkins for a long time,” Jay says. “When our daughter, Jena, was born, Kim decided to stay home and we were looking for some ways to diversify the farm. We decided to set some pumpkins in the front yard and see if people would come out to the farm.”
Come they did. The pumpkin patch expanded and the Fischers began inviting school groups and opened their farm for a few hours on weekends. They then planted a 12-acre corn maze and it’s grown from there.
“We take field trips out on hayrides and they get to pick their own pumpkins,” Jay says. “It becomes an educational experience for the kids and they seem really interested. We talk about how the pumpkins grow, how bees pollinate the flowers for them and sometimes a little bit about our corn and where that goes.”
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Fischer Farms Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze also has a variety of animals, including Clydesdale horses, and a nostalgic barn where visitors can eat their lunch while learning about agriculture.
The Branch Ranch Christmas Tree Farm
A little further north in Philadelphia, Missouri, Butch and Darlene Augspurg of The Branch Ranch offer that same education and excitement through Christmas trees.
“You can go to a box store and buy a Christmas tree, but you don’t get free hot chocolate and cookies, or be able to let your kids run around and holler,” Butch says. “What we sell is experience.”
The couple has approximately 6,000 trees and are strictly choose-and-cut, which means families come to the farm and choose the tree they want. He informs consumers that real Christmas trees are a commodity. “We’re selling a renewable commodity and putting oxygen back into the air,” he says. “I have zero runoff soil on our farm and we maintain a good ecological practice.”
Butch adds that the farm is in a very remote location, which makes it perfect for consumers to spend the day and make memories.
“When you say 600-plus trees, you’re talking about 600-plus families that you can start Christmas with. They come to The Branch Ranch for that special time that starts the season. There are hundreds of stories that come out of it, and the first 25 families that came to our farm are still coming,” he says.
More Missouri Agritourism to Explore
Along with Fischer Farms and The Branch Ranch, other notable Missouri agritourism destinations include Shryock’s Farm in Columbia, where visitors can get lost in a corn maze and watch as a gumball takes a ride down the three-story gumball coaster, and Fahrmeier Farms in Lexington, a family farm specializing in U-pick berries and other fresh produce.