With the arrival of October, several farms in Williamson County are opening their gates and welcoming visitors to soak up the fall weather through agritourism.
From hayrides to pumpkin patches, from corn mazes to farm tours, ag activities are simply more pronounced in the autumn. Through its Pick Tennessee Products program, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has released a list of farms across the state that are open for fall visits.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has led to things looking a little different on the farm this year. Still, agritourism operators are taking precautions in response to guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They’ve implemented health measures to make sure visits are safe and still rewarding.
Cindy and Allen Gentry have been welcoming the community to their nearly 400-acre farm in Franklin for the last three decades. In fact, this year they’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of Gentry’s Farm fall activities — even if the celebrating might be a little subdued in 2020.
“It’s a weird way to celebrate it, but this is the 30th year for us,” Cindy Gentry said.
The fall at Gentry’s Farm will have some of its same favorites such as mazes (three outside and one indoors), a few children’s games, animal viewing and nature walks by the river. However, there are no hayrides, hands-on activities for kids or pick-your-own pumpkins (though there are plenty of pre-picked ones to purchase).
Since school field trips won’t be happening this year, Gentry’s Farm has expanded its days open to the public. It’s open Thursdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Access is limited to keep the activity areas from being overcrowded, and tickets must be purchased in advance.
Visit the Gentry’s Farm websitefor more information.
Noble Springs Dairy
For those who enjoy goat cheese and would like to learn about the process for making it, Noble Springs Dairy is the place to be this fall.
Oh, and you can meet the goats as well, plus other animals on the farm.
“We give educational tours where people get to learn about different animals on the farm and what their purpose is,” Dustin Noble said. “They get to see where we milk the goats and see the end of the creamery and how we make the cheeses. It’s a good way to learn a little bit about our operation.”
While the pandemic caused the dairy to halt visits from the public March through May, the Nobles resumed tours in June and have been going steady since. There aren’t any special October activities, but the weather is now more ideal for visiting than, say, it was in the heat of July and August.
Visitors can tour the dairy, pet the baby goats and enjoy a cheese board afterwards.
Starting Oct. 10, Noble Springs Dairy will be open for visits Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with tours at 11, and from 4-6:30 p.m.
Visit the Noble Springs Dairywebsite for more information.
Big East Fork Farms
There is perhaps nowhere more suited for social distancing than Big East Fork Farms.
Located in the western part of Williamson County with plenty of elbow room, it’s a working farm that is protected through the conservation easement held by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation.
Throughout the year visitors can enjoy learning more about the farm and its sustainable methods. There are also farm animals for petting, facilities for retreats or weddings, and even overnight lodging.
In these days of the pandemic, it’s especially a good place to visit and practice social distancing.
“We generally have families and small groups and they will be in their own bubble, and we don’t mix the bubbles, said Jonathan Oppenheimer, founder and proprietor of Big East Fork.“There’s a lot of open space. That’s a nice thing. We don’t have any closed buildings, so there’s a lot of fresh air and room to keep a distance.”
To help celebrate this time of year, Big East Fork will hold a Center for Sustainable Stewardship’s Harvest Festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1.
From 4-8 p.m. Friday, there will be pumpkin carving and decorating, as well as the start of a pot of apple butter. Saturday’s activities run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., beginning with pumpkin scones in the morning. There will be an outdoor movie and a fire pit at 7 p.m., and Halloween costumes are encouraged throughout the day and evening. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, visitors can walk off some of the extra calories with a trail blazer walk with a “PATHologist.”
Social distancing and masks are required.
Visit the Big East Fork Farms website for more information.
To find what other farms in Williamson County and across the state are doing for fall activities, visit the website for Pick Tennessee Products.