Agri-Tourism a Boon for Central Illinois Farms

September 25, 2013

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.

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