I've developed a deep appreciation for farms, for their fluffy animals and delicious products, especially after tasting goat cheese for the first time this past week. To know I've been missing out all my life … bless those mama goats. Perhaps my favorite part is the fact I can savor the fruits of farmers' labor, and their land, without getting my hands dirty – a positive for any self-proclaimed germophobe.
When it comes to agritourism, Missouri is thriving. The question becomes: which farms should you visit? Luckily, the northwest portion of the state offers a convenient cluster, all within driving distance of one another. So load up your vehicle and hit the road for greener pastures.
Shatto Milk Company, Osborn – If you've ever shopped in Northwest Missouri, you might have noticed the glass jars of milk labeled "Shatto." They tend to stand out, especially the variety of pastel-colored flavored milks, like banana, cotton candy and strawberry. Tours of their dairy farm offer a look inside the bottling process, and you even get to meet the ladies of the hour – the beautiful cows that produce the milk, that is. If you're feeling adventurous, try your hand at milking. For me, I'll stick to sampling all the flavors.
Green Dirt Farm, Weston – There's something quaint about your first sight of Green Dirt Farm. The rolling green hills dotted with white sheep, their bleating sounding from the distance. Tours of the farm include exploring the pastures, seeing the milking parlor and cheese kitchen, and a special tasting of, you guessed it, cheese. Call ahead because tours must be scheduled in advance. You can also buy tickets to one of their cheese-tasting events or farm-table dinners, offered on select days throughout the year.
No slim pickings here
Peters Orchards and Market, Waverly – If you have a hankering for fresh peaches and apples, Peters is the place for you. Though tours of the orchard are only offered to organized groups of 15 or more, visitors can explore the market where an assortment of fruit and other homegrown and homemade items are offered. The ripening schedule is ever-changing, so check in and act fast because the stock goes quick.
Schweizer Orchards, St. Joseph – Known for their River Bend Apples, the orchards allow you to pick your own fruit or shop from the inventory in the market. In wintertime they switch gears and operate as a Christmas tree farm. Enjoy a hayride and hot apple cider or hot cocoa while contemplating which lush pine would be perfect in your home.
City Market, Kansas City – City Market brings the farm to you. On weekends, it's home to the region's largest farmers market. Local produce, fresh flowers and custom-made crafts are all available for purchase. Surrounded by attractions, shopping and dining opportunities, you can easily spend the day discovering this neighborhood solo.
YaYa's Alpaca Farm, Garden City – At YaYa's you'll have an opportunity to take selfies with an alpaca – check that off the bucket list! Learn about the herd while discovering each alpaca's unique personality. An up-close experience will allow you to pet and feed your newfound friend. Tours must be scheduled in advance and last approximately 1.5 hours.
Hasselbring's Harmony Ranch, Concordia – Home to more than 180 alpacas, Hasselbring's breeds rare Suri alpacas. Easily identified by their dreadlocks, the alpacas produce fiber that is coveted for crafting luxury products. Call ahead and schedule a tour of the farm to learn about the intricacies of raising alpacas.
Wine down at Missouri vineyards
Missouri is full to the brim with wineries, so it's hard to pick just one to visit. The three wine trails in Northwest Missouri are your solution to sampling your way through this part of the Show-Me State. The Kansas City Wine Trail follows the I-70 corridor with stops at nine wineries. Just north of the Missouri River lies the Northwest Missouri Wine Trail, also comprised of nine wineries. Continue to Highway 36 (and further on) to experience the WineStein Trail and its four wineries.
Not a winery but bears mentioning….
Holladay Distillery, Weston – When you visit Holladay, you're standing on a piece of history. The oldest original operating distillery west of the Mississippi River has been crafting its famous Missouri bourbon for more than 160 years. On the distillery tour you'll learn about the company's legacy and sample their award-winning bourbon.
Papa Charlie's Pumpkin Patch, Chillicothe – Family fun awaits at Papa Charlie's. See longhorn cattle on a hayride, make friends at the petting zoo, trek through the corn maze and jump around in the bounce house. A train ride and glide down the slide will entertain the kiddos while you pick out pumpkins, gourds and mums. Open Sept. 29 – Nov. 3, 2018.
Liberty Corn Maze – No Children of the Corn here, just endless fun at this fall attraction. Get lost in the four Kansas City-themed mazes with family and friends. When you've found your way out, try your hand at yard Yatzee and horseshoes. Open select days Sept. 7 – Oct. 28, 2018.
The Weston Red Barn Farm – Celebrate the harvest with a visit to the Red Barn Farm. Their Fall Festival, beginning Labor Day weekend, is the perfect place to handpick your jack-o-lantern-worthy pumpkin. The barnyard has a menagerie of animals, some of which you might get the chance to feed. Tour the farm on the tractor-drawn hayride and visit the country store for a souvenir.
Don't wait! Get a mooove on and head to these memorable Missouri farms.
Written by Ashley Sneed