State’s Soggy Summer Doesn’t Dampen Fall’s Farm Fun

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 | 02:35 pm

NASHVILLE - “We grew 134 varieties of pumpkins and gourds this year, plus the prettiest mums we’ve had yet,” said Andrew Dixon, farmer and operator of Granddaddy’s Farm near Nashville. “The rain didn’t hold us back. In fact, the corn maze is taller and greener, and everything is better than it’s been since we’ve opened the place — I think even the racing pigs run faster!”

Tennessee’s cool, rainy summer may have been a mixed blessing for farmers, helping some crops and hampering others, but now that fall is here, the state’s agritourism operators see no downside.   

“There’ll be plenty of pumpkins in the patch, plus hayrides, farm animals and a great corn maze, too,” says Ann Linginfelter of Deep Well Farm near Lenoir City. “Besides, our customers know that we offer a lot of awesome activities that just need the wide open spaces you find on a farm. Rope walls and monster slides and tire swings are fun anywhere — they’re just more fun at the farm, on a beautiful fall day.”

At West Tennessee’s Todd Family Fun Farm, traditional activities like milking cows are getting an upgrade. “We have groups who come and enjoy a high-tech, team building treasure hunt game called geo-caching,” says farm owner Martha Todd. “Teams navigate around our farm with hand held GPS units to find hidden "caches" of clues, trying to be the first to explore the course successfully.” The Todds also bridge the gap between old fashioned and new fangled with a game using smart phones, so that visitors can access information and learn more about farm life by using qr codes placed at stations around the farm.

Hundreds of agritourism farms across Tennessee focus on the time between Labor Day and Halloween night to entice the public outdoors for colorful autumn days, entertaining festivals or spooky evenings. School groups on field trips, teenagers looking to haunt and be haunted in an orchard or cornfield, and frugal shoppers looking for fresh, high quality fall décor make local farms a popular autumn tourism destination. 

Find Tennessee fun farms, orchards, crop festivals and fall décor at www.picktnproducts.org. Follow Pick Tennessee Products on Facebook and Twitter.