Three Farms that Attract Agritourism
Opening up shop
An Illinois couple encourages guests to pull on their muck boots and stay the night at their organic farm, and two Wisconsin farms invite guests to gather for wood-fired pizzas made with the harvests from nearby fields. Agritourism is a growing movement presenting a chance to learn about farming and get away from the city for a day or two. It also allows farms to teach young people about farming and provides an opportunity to make money from farming in a fun, unique way.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Kinnikinnick Farm: Caledonia, Illinois
Do you know where your food comes from? You will after spending a few days at Kinnikinnick Farm, an organic farm near Caledonia, Illinois. This farm stay business is a real working farm, where guests try farming in a weekend of gardening, cooking, feeding animals, and camping in a cushy tent.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Bound to the land
Guests discover how to light a woodstove (patiently). How to slide wood-grilled pizzas off a peel (quickly). And why newly laid eggs are shiny (the enzymatic coating, naturally). In addition to rising at dawn, tooling around on a tractor, feeding chickens and pigs, and petting donkeys, families who visit this farm also learn how organic food and slow-cooking techniques reinforce the ties that bind people—deliciously and indelibly—to the land.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Growing a business
David and Susan Cleverdon bought Kinnikinnick Farm in 1987. They weren’t looking to be farming educators, inspirers, or even hosts. They just wanted a place to turn their overgrown backyard garden into a business. They found it on 114 acres, 25 miles northeast of Rockford, Illinois, a short hop from Wisconsin. “I’m amazed when I think about it, because we were in our 50s,” Susan says. “David’s vision was to grow produce of the highest quality for customers and chefs. Mine was to create a place to share with my friends and family, a homestead. From my point of view, all the families who come to stay are part of what I dreamed of,” she says.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Step back in time
Every family that stays in one of the farm’s five cabin-style tents gets a taste of a vibrant local-food community. The tents each have a pioneer-style pump and sink. Light is from oil lamps. A cold chest keeps food cool. From striking the first match to washing the last skillet with stove-heated water, breakfast takes about two hours. You’ve heard of the slow food movement; this is slower.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Up and at 'em
Come around 10 o’clock, the rumble of David’s tractor announces what happens next: farm chores. Kids climb aboard to feed the chickens and Berkshire pigs, collect eggs, and inspect the beehives. At each stop, David illuminates how a farm works with humor and honesty.
Each day brings new activities. Kids can walk a goat on a leash or currycomb a donkey. But on this day, the crowd gets to see young chickens become free-range for the first time. “They’re going to be shell-shocked,” David says as he sets a chicken coop on the ground. Before an audience of rapt crouching children, the birds hop out of the coop, dart back, then step fully into the sun. And later, when chicken is served for dinner, another lesson is learned: the cycle of life on a farm.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Suncrest Gardens Farm: Cochrane, Wisconsin
You might think of Wisconsin as cheese country, but here’s a secret: It’s also pizza country. Two farms, just 16 miles apart, are enticing visitors to drive out to the countryside for casual evening meals. The two farms both serve up crisp slices of wood-grilled pizza topped with farm-raised veggies and meats.
Near Cochrane, Wisconsin, a graying, wood barn welcomes visitors to Suncrest Gardens Farm as they approach on the gravel road. Owner Heather Secrist began selling vegetables from her farm in 2003, then added wood-fired pizza night a few years later. Pizzas come in all persuasions: meat, veggie, gluten-free. Ingredients come from the farm: homegrown veggies and herbs, as well as custom sausage from farm-raised hogs, cattle, and sheep.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
Taste the fresh
“I want people to taste fresh food. When a vegetable or herb is fresh, the flavor is different,” Heather says. “When we can, we make pizzas that are 100 percent from the farm.” The pizza is like a blank canvas, she says, and the land and seasons provide the flavor.
A limited number of pizza nights are held in the barn in winter, and the farm also sells frozen soups, meat, hummus, and spaghetti sauces during the off-season.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
The Stone Barn: Nelson, Wisconsin
Just up the road from Suncrest Gardens Farm, The Stone Barn near Nelson is surrounded by forests and fields. Tables outside or inside the 1900s barn provide ideal spots to fill up on wood-fired, thin-style pizza.
“We grow our own organic herbs,” says Marcy Smith, one of the owners. “We raise cilantro, thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives, and basil—lots and lots of basil.” Veggies are all sourced from a local food co-op.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
“The lamb we use on our Greek pizzas comes from sheep raised on a farm a few miles down the road,” Marcy says. The Stone Barn also produces a special recipe chorizo and sausage.
Marcy and her husband, Matt, own the business with Matt’s sister, Amber Smith, and her wife, Anne Magrattan. The pizza-grilling fab four offer worldly flavors (Thai, Italian, Greek), plus classic pizzas and weekly specials. Ice cream, on the menu for dessert, comes from the Chocolate Shop in nearby Madison.Date Published: May 1, 2019Date Updated: May 9, 2019
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