From WILL - Focus -

Agri-Tourism a Boon for Central Illinois Farms

Have you been to a pick your own apple orchard or tried to solve a corn maze at a local orchard or farm? Why did you go, and would you go back? What did you like or dislike about visiting? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about farms as tourist destinations.


(Duration: 51:33)

visitors at Curtis Orchard

visitors at Curtis Orchard Flickr

With their corn mazes, farms like Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch and Curtis Orchard draw thousands of visitors each year. But Curtis Orchard wasn’t always an orchard and Mark and Julie Hardy’s reindeer ranch wasn’t always a place you could visit. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Randy Graham of Curtis Orchard and Mark Hardy of Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch about why they wanted to be able to invite people to visit their farms. We’ll also talk with them about how they build and plan for their corn mazes, one of their biggest draws this time of year.

Steve Ayers, a local food systems and small farms educator with the University of Illinois Extension, also joins us this hour on Focus. According to the most recent data from the USDA, revenue generated by agri-tourism destinations in Illinois, like the ranch and the orchard, has more than doubled over the last decade. We’ll talk with him about how farmers start to turn their farms into destinations and what type of economic impact the trend toward doing so is having in downstate Illinois.

Categories: Agriculture, Community, Travel

  • Read the full transcript

    Pop Up Archive Item: “Agri-Tourism a Boon for Central Illinois Farms” :
    Transcript for file: focus130925a.mp3


    have you ever visited a farm to pick your own apples are berries or Bible
    precious possible Halloween pumpkin a Christmas tree Electric kids get up close to
    most awsome livestock try to figure out of corn maze Farms that offer the zone
    these activities are part of the anchor tourism industry with additional farming act


    rest up for pain custom mg Medical Center
    focus Blue Book agritourism with guests from Hardy’s reindeer ranch
    Curtis orchard to Agra tourism successful in Champaign County
    placenta agritourism expert Illinois Extension tourism
    today on Fox
    are program begins after the news welcome to
    the focus MGM Meadows Hardy’s reindeer ranch Rantoul and Curtis


    Curtis orchard and pumpkin patch near Champaign both draughts Thousand visitors
    Jersey cheer that’s a point worth driving home most farms are not looking for
    visitors most people are not looking to visit them but Hardees and critters
    what is a part of the second farming notice agritourism today will be talkin Steve Perry
    the Bears of the U of I extension about agritourism but we are also talking with 2
    is too agritourism farmers in the studio with me is that Randy Graham
    the grand corner of a Curtis orchard welcome to focus Randy Jim and on the phone


    on the phone because it so its real busy this time of year are marcar de corner of Hardees reindeer
    reindeer ranch good morning mark a good morning okay no one experience of both of you on
    if you offer to the public which is fascinating us here to station for some reason is a
    is a corn maze what is literally amazed carbon to a cornfield people
    people go in after figure figure out how to get out without being able to see the hole pattern
    pattern in Denmark how many people are you expecting to visit your mates at Hardees reindeer
    reindeer ranch what usually have Ridge around 10,000 people going through the maze


    now this is a desert there’s a picture off of your maze at your website
    and I should know that there are there a link to both the Curtis in the Hardees websites
    is actually a picture in your face Mark Wright yeah if its an image weave
    like pictures images a.m. Easy Rider chopper
    and I anyway covers 10 acres in and has different checkpoint out there
    fare thee well liked a chopper motorcycles and takes an hour to 3 hours


    hours to complete and how do you make these things
    why I start out I can I come up with an idea like with different things
    things from weed in a bears made when the Bears played in town of Salina
    the Final Four but anyway come up with a images I can draw that fits into
    send to a 10 acre field and I draw the image
    plant a field and I work for the company that well I can a company to have to relax
    will Acura GPS in a will help me map I will let them take the Imaging Center


    send it up the satellites and somebody out there backpack Creator and Lana 4 wheeler
    Miller and images on that the screen I’m following behind them and then we just
    flag flag find out if I am and I’m on the corner about a foot taller
    so I cut it out so you started early when things alone you can see over everything
    everything yeah yeah and then you can come to feel the image
    what is just cuz its short and Capricorn a little
    ok and Randy understand your ear mesas Elis is


    is not a picture in your kids that’s correct smaller than marks
    about 3 acres and sew weave opted to go for difficulty over
    a picture of we have also marking stations
    out of the maze ing to give them additional challenge and I
    the customers if they can find all of those marking stations in a can redeem that
    coupon for an inflatable slide ride or a wagon tours
    The Orchard so they get a little extra value of a complete the VMAs b***


    but um my son build the maze and it’s quite difficult
    Bible found two of the four pictures station so far myself
    well if you ever want to record Mazar pick your own apples and pumpkins
    let us know how you find it reboarding tell us about your experience in visiting forms
    in the Agra tourism sector are you can ask a question of Mark Rd in Randy Graham
    Graham call the toll-free at 1 800 22 29455
    that’s toll free 1 800 222 wyll and you can email


    Milas at will dash Tongkat Illinois .edu we also welcome you
    questions on Facebook and Twitter at a focus 580
    um you just said is 13 hours in in the maze mark
    yeah yeah did pending on how good you are navigate yeah yeah
    can an hour people just give up after that how do you get out
    get out if your if you’re sucking there actually put out how to act like a mergency
    urgency exit in different points if you just want to get out and have some people finder


    5123 half of them and some people are determined to find all 8 cell
    so what if I want to get out that they can get out of it couple different Pointe
    is this something that people go when you get families do you get likes a group
    College fields tube comes to lease only get a variety the families with the daytime
    time in The Hunger kids and we get a large group of the University of Illinois
    why is nearby sew a lot of the kids come out from University of Illinois to take him out
    Afterdark for the most part and what will do it with September 18


    open till 8 weeks 10 hours just on Fridays and Saturdays till 10
    just a kind of accomodate am I have to be here by 9 to get your tickets
    NAT but it will fill up like from 7 o’clock to 9
    Anamosa University kids in high school on at OK
    brandy you said you eat you confirm or complexity in the maze
    lost in your own eyes yeah this years its really challenging
    some years you can get the your bearings even from inside decor naked


    I can see where the apple trees are there a tower in the center in AZ can see the tower
    this year because the weather was so perfect for growing corn the corner store tallit
    what you can’t see anything and usually if you got a person if you’re out there
    Raptor the team you got a person in the tower the tower person could have a cyst the ones down in the Navy
    Avett this year did the tower doesn’t even do a benefit to get the the corner
    cornstarch also its really challenging mission mark you have you have a larger acreage for you
    search for your corn maze what is it like in there being inside that field


    is a quiet or can you hear other people in the maze depends on affairs
    under the kids up there I’m down all your people yelling back and forth
    trying to find different stuff to know Marco Polo Stephanie Way
    trying to help each other to hear that sometimes get you high kid after the extremely loud
    college kids not so much and down
    I get sad but that anyway
    can I tell that you may have 500 kids out there in a reaction


    higher we come corn cobs in a patrol the maze in a liter help
    help or if the kids are misbehaving like heading to the corner throwing corner
    smoking pray tell their escorted out attack
    anyway I take a little bit just a manager just and unjust the size of numbers and stuff like that
    that and mean well this is this is a cornfield are you going to harvest corn
    porn thats growing there a yeah yeah the corn and Mike last year at night I think hundred
    Baker after the kids travel it and it stayed upto usually after


    after Thanksgiving this year actually looks very good replanet
    probably not tell the first Jenner so so so I load a green light
    Janet but that it usually does a bushel amor compared to
    5200 normal around here randy Houser
    does your corn crop looking this year Wellers doesn’t usually you very much because some
    some part of what I do to make the major difficulties like I plant in
    n3 directions east west north south


    diagonal me the rows of corn correct I would make it easier to get to lose your sense of direction
    directions yeah because then there is no rose any night Icona crossroads diagonal
    signal a cell that there’s a solid corn wherever you look so you can’t just run down
    30 inch wide cornrow to make progress you can’t you have to it’s like a mash
    maps of corn so I’m not looking for you and I’m looking to make life difficult for you
    no I’m wondering for both of you this is not the first
    the first feature that you opened up to attract a public has this been a big party


    part of it off the traction for both of you my mark I was at work for you
    just because we attract a temp different Democrat
    grafica de chistes your high school college kids Witcher
    things like this it it attract sandwiches kind of Nate and yet
    yes it’s been fun it probably one more profitable things we do here
    here we do a lot of other activities but it seems to draw the most attention
    tension ing surprise me sometimes because I didn’t


    mazes we’ve been doing for 14 years I didn’t think they hang in there but they still
    still intrigue people on an people to come back year after year did to do
    do it and I hit it seems to hold on to its size
    Georgia its side now is my understanding is you really start
    started looking for the public when you when you up with your brother the reindeer and how many years ago
    Larry started out with just a reindeer with 5 acres
    acres of Christmas tree to grow Christmas tree that here and I was going to just sell Matic garage


    Rajan at my married a gallon work for Avon
    is a manager and she wanted to do I call Christmas here so anyway
    verdad my dad we built a gift shop Banda belt on a nice gift shop
    shop the trees and she want to get anything on animal attraction that went with
    with Christmas time in and found out we can get reindeer picked up
    what are first to Reindeer than and then went back and got another 13
    Alaskan had a ship Dan just because I work


    never bring people and kinda want to expand you know you know I love it
    falling and possibly around I know you know justice
    is a cat a lot of the pictures I saw of reindeer as in Santa’s reindeer
    reindeer were not quite accurate I think they were actually thinking of deer
    beer bread reindeer Rangers are good b**** stockier the deer a reindeer is like
    like to me that look like a small cat how fast they are they called cabin North
    hey would be a domesticated caribou basically in an event


    domesticated plan which is Norway in Siberia
    Golia for a thousand thousands of years and I’m very important animals
    because of their ability to survive extreme temperature Kohls like a 50
    Diplo um they’re there actually very amazing animals and end
    Caroline like I said a Calic ideal job
    guys really don’t think that they just there just happy to stay with the grass
    what were the fetus I take Gas X while so yeah do you have any of the domestic


    masticated enough to staple Slayer something like that there extremely friend
    friendly the more you work with them just like a horse in Mario work with the better than I have
    I have a couple 2 or 3 that that can be displayed like I go Chicago
    Chicago to Peoria somebody’s gonna pray to ride Christmas program also
    all set up and display the animals night and day to find there
    typically females like taken and they do fine this is focus
    Kassam G Meadows we are talking about agritourism was to farmers were pretty successful at it


    mark hardy of parties reindeer ranch in rent a gram of Curtis orchard pumpkin patch
    plus we have with SSC bears with the U of I extension whos who perk
    who works with a small farmers and and and and local food systems phone number
    1 800 222 9455 and
    and that’s 1 800 222 wyll the email address will dash talking I’m both of you started out
    you know with a single attraction in all the reindeer and I guess for you Randy was the the pic


    the pick your own orchard correct and you both at a lot of things over the
    over the years how do you figure out what people want is a pretty eyes
    competitive environment figuring out figuring out what will bring people into my meat market
    can I start with you sure um yeah okay to let you know what their ass
    rafter I mean that how to cut your own tree is there a popular I start bringing precap
    cat and an app that works good it’s kind of nice combination
    and then after awhile you have to start do you like if you got numbers are you you got leather shop


    popular bass only so big so we built a banquet hall here
    what is mainly for traveling groups like singers like clubs in Napa travel
    and we had enough coming that we would justify saying okay well built
    and then we can do some local stuff like in weddings and things like that
    like that company picnics in so many ways Whitehead Belfast building and then I guess that’s enough room tour
    operate the spread people out yet that he did buildings
    rooms in parking all that it just kind of wine legend of the other


    I’m ready and in your case you were starting with the really pick your own
    make your own and um what was the next thing you did and how did you get the idea
    the idea for doing well on my my inlaws apologize Curtis
    actually found the orchard they plan to the first trees in 1977 in their first crop
    crop was in 1980 and that year
    there and their Magin picking the apples are letting people pick their own and then selling the rest of
    rest of their garage well it wasn’t long before that didn’t work out because they


    they had more Appleton I knew what to do with a net first year they had a hail storm ends
    they were completely inexperienced apple growers Nathalie discovered not every Apple the number one
    413 went out and bought a cider press so that was the start of another portion of Art
    Navarre business and then some years later on we were trying to mark
    marketmore apples in October it seem like October things are slowing down a bit so it’ll maybe
    maybe we put in a few Pumpkins people come out for pumpkins and buy some apples it was all about trying to
    trying to sell the apple crop initially but then the pumpkins to coffin and now they


    now they rivalry apples far is sales goes to somebody sings stumble into other thing
    other things you see what other orchards in and similar businesses are doing and
    men and develop friendship center network and people are pretty Willie
    the willing to share in this business sound because it is such a small group of people in Thai
    Titan it will all kind of live the same life so you really were willing to share
    cher what works for some what doesnt work in that helps a lot what works for 11 Esterly work
    work for another so you have to kind of evaluate it discuss it as a management team


    women say this direction we should go with whatever new idea comes along um Francis
    ncysa bakery idea we saw torture doing bakeries without all we should make some donuts
    I guess you know but we didn’t really think that would ever be profitable in and now its like
    like the tail wagging the dog in all day apple crisp donuts are there lines for the Mets
    unbelievable up mark for you what’s what is the biggest attraction what
    what’s the biggest part of your operation now and then we do
    when we do a lot of activities we also do you like group sex like weenie roast


    and because of my location what kind of an hour away from everything but that
    anyway we offer packages include activities and like a cook at a weenie roast
    smores in hotdogs and things like that so we do a lot of youth groups birthday party
    things like that um and then it’s just general public
    you got ass how your weekend in October they’re coming out to do hair I
    Verizon apahm Kenan and do a reindeer coloring and activity
    Kennedy’s out here we we do have concessions I’m just in October


    I’m like 1104 on Saturday at 12 to 4 on Sunday and that’s not
    not as big a part of our operations what we do of rich people
    through the lunch I’ll run that there are people out here doing
    activities that I’m so its it’s really an experience
    getting a Corsair Foxx show me to buy Christmas trees but right but
    but but they really getting experience from coming over the coming over to your place riders are coming
    coming back to the pharmacy girl pretty Avenue got all the trees and flowers in Hobbit coming out


    after the farm to get back to the summit ridge or whatever but that just text
    experience being out in the country the Falling Man
    corn maze are going to hayride around the farmer when Im gone Anna visit with a reindeer
    shopping at the antique shop in Napa to stuff like that
    just want to get to get out of the country how many people do you employ
    employee for Hardy’s reindeer ranch 68 10 on the week
    weekends only bring in family transom at a time


    just just on a busy weekend otherwise of it like they just me and my wife
    44 working here just be a few cars come through but now we prepare for the weekend
    weekend and and and get some help and Andover Curtis orchard Randy how many hours
    what’s on the payroll there we have some five families
    families that are supported full time you’re around by the orchard and
    liking a day like today we have about 30 and on the weekends probably about
    about 80 8080 people working a lot of people


    people working out so this is this is really a lot of different if you were just growing a crown
    Trump on your own as dead as soon as the what both of you would be doing
    how is very very different yeah I think God that’s one thing that
    people who are interested in Agra tourism need to consider is
    you’re getting into a whole different line of work yet growing the crop is a portion of the eye
    that work but its much larger than that okay
    mark I’m wondering um its just did you sounds like a business


    what you really have to be adventurous cause this is certainly not exactly what you were doing
    where do in a few years ago what’s what’s the most
    most unexpected thing you’ve had to learn how to do
    dealing with public is interesting um I’m I’m I’m the guy
    guided in the tree to plant a tree in Belton things like that my wife is
    target marketing in at a time
    LeapPad like a couple weeks ago had to big groups of Brazilians ass here and now


    how to French group that come out just to see what I guess what actress
    must have a time there for them anyway it’s interesting to people
    I get a kick out of a group of people that come true
    um the rest of the reindeer you never know
    never know you know I had a lot of problems can having this year witch
    which is a big problem that can I talk to other reindeer people on cycle
    what do you treat your castle if you know so that live in an apartment


    the animal that has a day going to ride in a dangerous heart deal with
    the rest of it and I you hear your building plan and the weather to be a problem
    problem but somebody that can be very challenging to work with
    I’m so you do you have a growing heard cheap 18
    1820 animals like last year we had sex cast born with
    lost Rihanna what was actually good year this year we had forecast morning
    morning and a little week or so and then they would die which animals are very


    very valuable like their people on a Bagon me to buy the animals
    weather getting kind of hard to find just getting everything right
    dan and being able to save a Catholic is a big deal now
    what I get past a monster to INR Deli have 15 18 years or so
    cell but I’ve got animals ever getting older and I need to replace
    place to have them people going clear back up the laughter trying to find something
    better than just not I’m not sure if they’re there


    doing okay down here but they’re not like to know that you know that you were
    get your calf crop of other stuff so it it it it it it
    it is a tricky business keeping Reindeer I hit a kind of Italy
    Dairy Farm for this in a semana mean animals are in a week
    University that’s out here and they can help with a lot of stuff for some staffing
    traffic to make an attack yeah yeah I can say that they
    what is calving problems as is not a good thing if you don’t want to run out of animals


    just cuz we need a certain number animals just for display and a half
    how to replace the older animals passing away
    one more question before I let you go mark I know yeah I know you have to have to leave midpoint
    when are program the Christmas tree market how has the Christmas tree market
    Market done over the years I know there’s a definite market for artificial Christmas
    mysteries a work will hard to make those things realistic is possible but but
    it sounds like you still have people coming in water Realtree we do


    do a pretty good business the trees out at ya
    I got a certain number cut your own hair to grow 2 or 3 times at number
    the great if there’s a big demand for cut your own disappearing lil phat
    fat people that do it or retiring in getting out of bed challenging
    I do bringin like Fraser firs Inn at Perry
    Chandlers um yeah that the Christmas tree market Pretty consistent
    Aaron and can it seems pretty consist


    consistently we try to order the right now so you have to throw a punch out loud and
    Christmas trees are probably like it that they are there a big part of your heart
    Christmas time around here ok what my cardio and I know you have to
    take off early but I want to thank you for being on the program today marcar de of Hardees rain
    is reindeer ranch near Rantoul you find a link to the website at our website at
    Atwill dot and thank you very much for being on the program
    program with us thank you for having me okay


    time for short break and I will be back in a moment with more of
    more about agritourism on focus on wyll
    Rebecca focus on wyll im Jim Meadows just a note tomorrow in the Pro
    the program will be around the sum of the latest news and trends in politics with the panel off
    political junkies including Ahmed Beneke of Illinois public radio Elverta
    the Springfield bureau on Friday Barbara conversation with award winning science fiction authors
    author Kim Stanley Robinson town for symposium about science fiction in humanity


    Humanities at the University of Illinois Arnex lawn and garden advice program
    is set for a week from Friday October 4th right now we’re talking about
    agritourism without rent a gram of credits orchard and pumpkin patch in with Steve Ayers
    heirs of the U of I extension and we welcome you questions at 333
    33 94551 802 229 455 that’s the toll
    the toll free number 1-800 222 WILL email
    email addresses will dash talk at


    Randy and I understand this is not the pharmacy in the family in the car
    Curtis family for a long time yes sign is part of the centennial
    Centennial farm the Curtis is moved to Syria 1878 and established that
    the farm there at the corner of Curtis and Duncan Road and I dispose
    this portion of farmers acquire just a little later but yes the family been here for a long time
    I’m mostly corn soybean hog farmers that’s not what you do now
    no not at all through the inheritance end


    divisions of the farm my father in law and I was married
    1956 penny had dysentery this 80 acre plot that is why
    is where the orchard is now na had a little bit ground the cross the road
    it was really nice to make a living on and so he came back to university got a PhD
    steam plant physiology became one of the founding faculty members of Parkland College
    and then it is mid 30’s this is probably the early 70’s
    he had a dramatic conversion to Christianity Annie started revaluate every fasciitis


    is life and part of it included this small farm that he you know
    you know couldn’t quite make a living off of b*** die young land with something that
    something that is in the blood you don’t sell it you know so he was working two jobs
    essentially to make this thing work and he also realize through his
    is studies that alot of very few people lived on working farm anymore
    when he was going up alot high percentage did you realize people are losing touch
    touch with their roots on the farm so his goal was to become an ambassador for abs


    for agriculture and to provide a place that people could visit to reestablish
    stablish connection with agriculture because we live in arguably within the Richer
    the richest agricultural areas in the world um mean we sit here and look at
    Atlanta corn fields in a lot of people sell this is boring you know there’s no mountain ocean
    ocean basin ho a lot of people would give anything to live in this Richmond
    which of an agricultural climate so he wanted people to have that connection
    and it came down to basic principle he liked Apple safety plan if you apple tree


    tree but he was a corn soybean hot guys had no application
    variance so he stuck in 9700 these little twigs and they look like with sticks
    fixing the ground that’s nothing else is the next re put 1700 more in the ground
    and uh ah the first year they had any kind of crop
    I had begun dating her daughter and I had worked in Ag because my best friend
    best friend and junior high school was determined he was going to be a farmer and I became his right hand man
    man so I had to experience walking soy beans and stuff suck the life


    help out on the farm a little bit and I in the early 80’s we went into this sudden
    sudden exponential crop growth hates
    there was no coolant capacity there was a hell of a sudden the apple tree started yet they start
    they start producing in each year it’s an exponential growth from the previous years far is
    far is production and it was overwhelming in those earliest when were you
    were you if you have it out as a picture on a warrior harvesting It Yourself both both YouTube
    do you really have to do both in order to IDE to get the crop of a timely fashion


    Fashion Bug customer customers coming in the picture on a can I get the whole Trina well in Franklin
    nobody even knew we were out there in the early 80’s you know no one at her to Curtis orchard and
    and sew in on top of that we were building facilities each year
    shear at an exponential right as well we were at in coolers space for prom
    for processing expanding the story modeling the store with used to be there
    video hot house on and overtime weave
    Baxley done an expansion on average every two and a half years of that some p****


    pornoverdose 33 years has Steven Harris with your extensions you work with small farm
    Farms your sitting here with a big smile in your face listening to listen to the story making
    making me think there’s a pattern here because I guess if this was a larger
    Archer farm in probably woman might have gone to corn and soybeans which is the dominant
    dominant crop in in this part of the country and you know that would be that
    I guess but I’m ready to start your telling you sounds like one of continuum
    tenuous improvise a shin of a youngest learning as you go is Atwood


    is is that what happens with small farms allotted what weather in Ecuador Zamar elsewhere
    elsewhere well it’s not for everyone and number one you gotta be a people person
    A & D a guy is Mark center earlier dealing with the publican sometimes be
    is beer at a challenging and so that’s not for everyone so you know obviously in Illinois
    Boca farmers raise corn soy beans in your Casely might have a group apps
    the farm but not every day that I have a
    of hundreds or thousands of people of the tower visiting your farm


    and that’s that’s what a great tourism is about getting people to your location
    what what is your uniqueness of the town
    of your draws a family to your location we focused on
    locust onto agritourism operations Hardees and Curtis here in Champaign
    campaign County from where we broadcast but there must be others around
    around the state people listening in other parts of Illinois may be close to Love
    other agritourism operations how many are there others around 700


    100 in the state of Illinois 700 diesel places they may not have
    what have reindeer are they may not have a corn maze what a place where you might go um
    essentially get your own crop rent right you know that they got a an anchor
    anchor weather return orchard or the reindeer some people have
    will have the pumpkin patches their main draw a and soda
    and then there just add other activities are there arsenic
    some that have ziplines a zipline yeah you know the cable


    cable with strong from a tower that you ride a rather
    weather up citing a 30 seconds are so as you what is it
    zip down the line mi secretaria head right and the soeed
    age is just the more activities in the broad range of activities adjust gif
    gives people more to do if its baby sound machine parts
    anythink park but you’re talking hear about the small businesses because you notes
    theme parks heavy duty theme parks around the Run by corporations from RI


    REI corporations involved in the surfing in Agra tourism in Illinois are are these for
    is family businesses like like like like to do in Champaign County it is
    what is a pretty much it up multigenerational IA it allows a fil A
    a family your number families interstate Negra culture to basically stay on the phone
    the farm without having to expand to thousands of acres that you might need
    fra corn soybean operation ready to people aspect what time is it
    is is that a particular skill just understanding understanding your customers working


    working with him I guess both on a Renault one to one basis but also figuring out
    going out what will the tractor another people to keep the businesses are going well
    yeah I mean it that’s a big aspect of the business I think
    Which Wich take the educational aspect of it very seriously still
    tell you know I think it’s amazing to us how many people come out
    who have never picked an apple off of the tree does a simple active yeah
    who don’t understand the season ality of fruit in fact


    duck come out for writing with a weld we had that ride in August but it’s gone now
    what do you mean gone you know well it’s even came in Atlanta next year the bee
    will be another crop of that bright Yelp people have really lost touch
    touch with agriculture too large to create a lot of people have never picked a pumpkin from the vine
    vine have never seen a pumpkin growing on a vine and you know we talk about corn maze
    corn mazes earlier as a child I don’t think I had ever
    ever walked into a cornfield I didn’t grow up on a farm you know I got it


    its its a unique experience to walk into a cornfield in to see you know
    all this is the air of corn right here on the stock in this is a tassel on top and
    the leaves are in a 45 inches wide and its it’s
    if your a curious person at all it Agriculture the very fascinating
    Fastlane subject and we see that any not only in the kids but in the adult
    Dulce is well and I think one of the beautiful aspects of agritourism
    is one of the few things that you can do all together as a family NH


    everybody off every age theres something there for them you know if you go to
    go to the movie theater well there’s a type of movie the kids want to see there’s one that I don’t want to see the pictures
    this is something they do as a family and we see that so often that all these
    all these generations are interacting together on our farm in ur having a share
    shared experience NFL thing that there is a lot of opportunity for
    the foreign life anymore that’s interesting its not like you’re giving out a grease in English
    culture there but if people want to find out sings especially starting from square one


    Square One where I think um a lot of city folks are terms of Agriculture
    this is one way to do it yeah and we have some eggs at the educational boards up fat
    people can a question answer type things you know how many miles does a bee fly
    lifetime that’s Worthing house how much honey can a bee make in a lifetime
    the people are fascinated by that we also have several thousand
    um children come out on school tours and those are educational tours that explain
    Blaine the function of honey bees how apples are grown how pumpkins are grown house spiders mate


    where is made and more more we have adult groups coming on tours and asthma
    as Mark said we also have quite a few International Group stick come out on
    Delta someone do tours someone to do a weiner roast or some other activities
    activity we have um actually groups from some of the large corporations
    rations will bring a department out Eenadu team building activities el break up into team
    the teams and no go into the corn maze and try to solve the maze of the team to build camaraderie
    lottery NY work together attitude for back at the office so there are so many


    how many aspects to this business that I know you can’t even think of all of them
    sometimes your customers will will surprise you with something do they start off limits
    let me take a call now this is a line 1 Bobby from champagne good morning
    good morning I was wondering
    Ben to Chris orchard and Ike MI
    um find is it from Chicago to go there with his little kids but I was
    I was wondering why you didn’t I have anything about the more organic operation Federer


    champion Connie like um I think it’s a Prairie fruits farm
    fun North Lincoln I’m away I’m aware of it like they do they raise money
    things go to the produce place is there yeah and then they have dinners
    did they have tours the charge for the tourism you get some official Lotto
    Toland um that I don’t know what else cause I haven’t actually down
    event formal tours but um there are there different levels of
    Equatorial phone and um I think it would


    with so I don’t I don’t know if that’s being counted the favorite Ora
    TV repair itself like its on the radar alright I mean pursuits
    lots of Tours to lots of people at a soul
    so there’s always all sorts of different operations that say you know everything from
    apple orchards up to wineries 10 ways is exactly what was going to come
    going to come up next to my mind is the place is like a Alto vineyards um I don’t know if they have a
    I have a working if they have a working vineyard up here they said they do Downstate


    but that’s something good for people to come where the wine is
    when is the weather grapes are being grown were the one is being made and the beat
    be a part of the environment right and you know we have Wildwood also over in St Joe
    St Joe Indiana Ave which is elderberry wine and then sleepy Creek over
    over no quid where they actually have about 10 acres of grapes
    are both a vineyard and winery okay so it’s not everything
    things for kids when were talking about agritourism I guess what you talkin bout wineries


    hot Randy I did what I did want to check with you on the organic part because you
    do address a tissue justice far is the way that your own crops work about
    looks like you try to be organic is possible but you UC limit is forest
    just just just tell production work Siri this part of Illinois
    yeah there are there some a pest that there are no natural predators for sew weave
    Louisiana grated pest management um basically my family is
    the largest consumer of our own products so I want the most effective and safest


    first product possible that I can bring to bear on whatever disease or pass time dealing with
    we also work closely with University on the latest technologies in past management
    management and part of that is computer modeling week we have temperature in leaf lettuce
    is monitoring the orchard how we have computer monitors that you can plug that information
    information into so it will tell you when to look for passing
    scouting to see if the past is actually there an economic threshold level bit
    requires treatment if its not then you don’t treat if it is then you find a


    the safest product possible that’s the most environmentally friendly
    and the safest to the public and to yourself to a dress that passed
    fast I’m so our goal is to do at the best way possible
    possible the safest most effective with the technologies we have available this is 40
    focus MJ Meadows still time for your questions about agritourism and I
    any suggestions you have a bow tie agritourism of operations of the Dead
    you’ve been to and your part of the state of lettuce know about it I’m here with Randy Graham


    Graham from Curtis orchard and Steve Ayers of the University of Illinois Extension
    toll free numbers 1 800 2229 4556 1 800
    hundred 222 wyll are email addresses will dash talk
    Illinois Steve I’m wondering for for farmer
    farmers who are looking at a disorder business at agritourism Rd
    ours is are there any basic lines of advice that you have well as Connor
    contact number one come up with your idea and then I’d do some


    some business planning a assess your land in location
    Asian if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and 90 percent of people will get lost
    Austrain find you a you might want to reconsider having a
    enable tourism operation of obviously Curtis orchard is ideally locate
    located in the just opened energy change a few years ago and how is it video
    what’s right to Curtis Road what am I thinking how has that way
    hat has that had an impact on your business Alyeska most definitely it sits much


    simpler to get to a statically from some of the outline markets like Bloomington
    10 we we draw visitors from Wells Fargo
    Chicago routinely but that 60 mile radius is are real
    real common draw and used to be kind of complicated to get people
    people from Bloomington to our place before the interchange Wayne and but now you just bring the ride on 57
    27 often worked less than a mile from that in the change you have to be marca
    Marketing in a different way that if you were just something from to market


    because you have to you if you hate you hate you have to reach the customer left a note know you’re out there
    there is nothing know what you’re doing and I guess it’s everything from the website
    we fly into to the signs on the highway yeah that’s right and actually that
    that’s more quite a bit over the years and then we have a lot of Facebook followers now
    now and the social media aspect is really revolutionized what we do
    what we do how does that work on the social media Part How I was a change things for you today
    Willie postings quite frequently like when a new variety comes


    available we will post at and immediately people of seas on that
    Matt and they will they will come out and sometimes there out before we back
    Baxley got the apples on the shelf because I’ll say we all tell
    my brother in law pictus variety says what can I tell people as your
    you know well I have a great so if it’s almost instantly
    amazing we just had an email that came in asking about um
    accessibility for a form for people using wheelchairs Network ADA compliant with


    with all of our facilities and out we we we have access
    access to the orchard sell for you pick people take wheelchairs out into the orchard
    we try to keep that u pick apple portion is close to the building that is possible
    double for long as possible it’s not always dual Balazs
    as the prophets picked out but I will try to save little blocks
    locks that are close to the building so that its not too far you never any given weekend
    and for people to get to the apples and self now can people get to


    do you know if your in a wheelchair can you get kicked can you return Apple know ya
    Seattle are trees are all either full dwarf or semi dwarf
    dwarf tree just give an idea what what’s the size of fully dwarf trees about 6 feet
    feet all of a semi dwarf we keep our Zeta 10 but the branches hang down
    down to the ground so high yeah I mean you can I get it going up on letters
    no you don’t want that now what’s up something was it something alarm for trial and error
    was your original Crawford on the wharf the original crop with semi dwarf


    dwarf with my father Leonard the business that was the standard people have moved away from the old fat
    old fashioned standard ceiling that were 40 feet tall um probably back in the
    50’s and 60’s I would gas now the standard is more fully dwarf in high dance
    density so it’s even taking a step smaller since we entered the market
    market and so now most of our new plantains are even at higher density smaller tree
    tree now I’m wondering in that case is that it would you use that
    who’s that tree for the part of the crop were that that you harvest yourself or is that really just


    just a meeting at the you pick it we the for both because its independence
    it’s enough production to make a worthwhile it more production actually yeah you got a lot more production
    production per acre you get into production quicker which is key to ask because
    because we’re always looking for new varieties that will attract the public in new Verizon
    is that they may be can’t get anywhere else for that are common so you can
    you can get into production in 3 to 5 years with with a fully dwarf tree and it’s more like 5
    57 for a semi dwarf tree and you know people in the computer


    computer age are used to this instant gratification with you you’re not quite ever going to get their fur
    orchards but you know ya le sacan speed the process of a little bit by going with those trees
    and I’m you know I’m wondering what talking about what is really the bay
    the basis of the original products the apples but I’m looking at your website website
    the cafe the bakery the country store the parties the tours the active
    activities this is really a lot of things that you that you’re doing to go beyond
    just having a farm you wear a lot of hats in if you’re not a type of person


    person that that is comfortable with a lot of job descriptions it may not be
    Minot be the right business for you um like some people are very
    just wired differently than they like one interested in one area and that’s it
    yeah but in our job you have to be to be a semi
    expert had many different areas de Vere’s ym&.intl conformers about
    doubt about this business is that something you eat is that something people need to be
    b1 about her is that a surprise at there just so many different


    maybe new skill sets that you’re going to have to pick up to
    Dr Minnesota 5 will you have to value a yourself and your family and see what your
    what your interests are and then go from there and obviously the Opera
    operations have grown over the years its taking decades two
    expand a heater operation which talking
    talking about the difference between a small format a big farm and I don’t know this working
    twerking definition what’s what’s when you think small for much of a creature talk about


    West Mall formal we’ve got to close to us 1400
    hundred farms in Champaign County and there are 447
    47 less than 90 acres so there’s a 98 Kors less than 90 acres
    Lakers and the USDA back in the day do a egg census every 5
    35 years so they just started looking at Law of less than 40
    149 acres back in 2007 so that’s where they came up with the 440
    47 farms or less than 9 Curtis orchard you’re all your total acreage is


    running 80 acre block B a big small farm going to buy that would be a
    via a big small farm yes but and and digest
    do just to get by with with commercial production I mean just growing crops some
    the 50 60 acres is going to be tough is it
    it depends on what you’re growing and yellow and corn soy beans would be you
    talking hundreds on into thousands it might be um 100000
    South Santa Fe cost of a cruise ship would be the way to make it work maybe do what what what


    autozone Altus do they just Lisa turtle and let somebody else take the red scar
    are do they just struggle or do they all go and operations like a
    Curtis orchard about that lease 2/3 of the land at least a quart
    corn soybean production is tenant farming and so the sea
    you can be a landowner in and not actually Farm it very common
    but of a book but it’s also sounds like this is this could be a good candidate
    Canada depending on the other factors for some soda factory tours Rite Aid


    Wright & M much are the specialty crop production is done part time
    is Paul Curtis you dont was working for three different jobs
    jobs ISC building orchard in that’s very very common issues you don’t
    make a tourism your full time occupation just starting out
    it sounds like a 40 full time job for you right now the Red O yes its full time job
    job for a number family members now but at the time it was not in the in the early
    earlier than it took about 9 years really to become profitable cell


    so it’s not something that you enter into a lightly and expecting to make a
    make a quick quick profit on it takes a lot of capital to establish
    something like this we have 20 seconds before we have to go but I do want to get one more emails
    email question at least for Curtis orchard any special activities for Halloween
    where’s the weed not really focused on Halloween purse
    per se a weekend to draw the fall crowd and um
    when did have anything scary out there cuz we want to have it really fun for kids even young kids


    peaceful Halloween at least at least this one example of alliteration
    thank you very much rent a gram of Curtis orchard and Steve a Roz Varon
    U of I extension thanks also the mark hardy of Hardy’s reindeer ranch earlier the program
    this is focus on will