Explore the many family farms in Massachusetts that open their homes to visitors who seek a taste of the old days.
It’s likely Old McDonald wouldn’t recognize the family farm today with all its savvy marketing and high-speed technology like fax machines, web pages and e-mails. On the other hand, the venerable and mythological gent (some say there really was an Old McDonald and his farm is actually located in Nova Scotia) might approve of the steps taken to save the family homestead.
That’s Anneli Johnson’s job. She’s the Direct Market Specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture and she’s on a crusade to stop turning farms into Walmarts and make them available to the fast-growing family travel market.
The idea is to “morph” agriculture into Agri-Tourism. The number of farms involved in agri-tourism has grown from forty to more than 200 in Massachusetts, a sign of growth of the kind of family travel that builds memories and values. Johnson’s job is to get the word out that Massachusetts farmers are turning their farms into family-friendly places offering real, hands-on learning experiences, and more importantly, fun.
“Best of Boston” Winner
10 Pleasant Street
Lexington, MA 02421
In 1884 two visionary farmers; James Wilson and his brother-in-law George Reynolds put together a 16 acre farm right here in Lexington. As of today you can still find all five of the first vegetables grown are still being harvested and rumors have it that a few hens are 20th generations descendents from the original brooders. This farmstand is open year-round and is a multiple “Boston Winner”. The bread is baked right here each day along with freshly sqeezed juices, eggs form their own hens and the freshest flowers to make a picture pefect bouquet. Adults can enjoy this experience first hand by going on Wilson’s free farm tours that show what they do to get there farm so beautiful and in addition provide helpful tips to make your own home garden just as healthy. Kids can enjoy free tours as well while having fun. Here they will be able to see animals that walk and talk, play educational games such as farm puzzles and partake in virtual gardens. Note that the free tours are only offered every other Thursday during the summer.
Fishing And Farming
Blue Heron Farm
8 Warner Hill Road #1
Charlemont, MA 01339
A friend of mine, Barbara Trevison, has been a visitor to in Charlemont, Massachusetts for three years running. Blue Heron is a pioneer in agri-tourism, and Barbara and her two daughters, Bailey, 15 and Marisa, 12, enjoy grooming and feeding the horses, milking the goats and learning from the spirited lessons of Norma and Bill, the owners, who explain the ins and outs of farm life. The Trevisans stay at Blue Heron’s converted Bed and Breakfast, and she tells me, “I love the change of pace here. We slow down from our city life, and appreciate the simplicity, bonding with the animals and the land.”
Dairy Fresh Ice Cream
Richardson’s Ice Cream
156 South Main Street (Route 114)
Middleton, MA 01949
Taking the family out for icecream will never be the same after visiting Richardson’s Icecream Farm. Bring the entire family and enjoy a day of activities and exciting learning experiences. Take time to tour the farm to find out how it alll began. Pet the cows, see fresh milk being bottled and gather in the agricultural life by sitting by the waterfall or at a picnic table under a tree. There are fun family activities such as minature golf, batting cages, IMAX movies, a reading dairy dar, amazing liquid fireworks display, flying from a trapeze or shop at their newest furniture store. And don’t forget to take home their homemade tasteful treats; frozen yogurt, sherbet or ice-sssccream!
Tregellys Fiber Farm
15 Dodge Branch Road
Hawley, MA 01339
Every wonder how blankets, rugs or even carpets are made. Well take a visit to Tregellys Fiber Farm to see the actual weaving taken form there very own sheeps, goats, llamas and many more animals. Learn about their different characterstics and friendly personalities as kids ejoy a great learning experience. These animals are particularly fond of young children so don’t hesitate to bring them along. They can always stop by and see the “master weaver” Ed work his majic as he builds durable, beautiful and useful products.
More Options for Families
For more information on Agri-Tourism in Massachusetts, contact the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture at 617/626-1700, or click on this link at the state’s Agriculture Department..
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