Harvesting fun and learning Autumn: Some area farms open their doors so children can find out where their food comes from. Adults can join in the harvest, too.

October 01, 1998|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

A visit to a commercial farm this fall can give children a first-hand education about a different side of the suburbs -- the side that moos and lows, crows and honks and smells a little strange.

"So many kids don't know the groceries just don't come from the grocery store," or that fresh cow milk is warm, said Cheryl Nodar, who manages Cider Mill Farm in Elkridge.

Farms such as Cider Mill and the National Endangered Wild Animal Research and Conservation Center Petting Farm in Davidsonville offer sheep and llamas, pythons and alligators to pet and feed, apple orchards and pumpkin patches to pluck from, and sometimes a market with homemade preserves or pies and cookies to buy. In October, the busiest fall month for the farms, no tour is complete without a hayride.

"People love to come out in October and get hayrides," said Debbie Collison, who runs NEWARCC Petting Farm. The 15-minute spin in her tractor-pulled hay cart takes visitors past the horses and sheep and fields of soybean and hay on a full tour of her family's 100-acre farm.

"We like the fact that we're right on a real farm," Collison said. "When the kids come, they get to see a real farm with crops growing."

A few working farms in the area are open to the public in the fall.

NEWARCC is heavy on the petting, and light on the farm. It is a private, nonprofit operation founded to encourage education and animal preservation.

Located at the end of an almost milelong drive off Governor's Bridge Road, the petting farm is a 2-acre portion of what once was a dairy farm owned by Collison's parents, Clifton and Norma Wayson. Her brothers farm crops there.

Nine years ago, Collison created a sort of hands-on zoo with animals from the ordinary to the exotic. Visitors will find kangaroos lodging just a few yards from the pot-bellied pigs and rabbits.

"We introduce children from all kinds of life structures into the world of animals," Collison said. "We decided to open the farm to the public so they'd get a chance to see animals, pet them, feed them and watch them. We want people to experience as many animals as they can when they come here."

For a $7 donation, children and adults may tour the petting farm and feed the animals with carrot and apple slices. In some areas, the children are allowed in the pens for a closer look. Those with brave hearts and deeper pockets can pay $100 to become tiger sponsors and pet Siberian tigers Tiffany and Tasha.

"I don't know that there are that many places like this around," said Sharon Walters, a Kent Island resident who has taken her daughter Taylor-Leigh Walters, 2, to visit several times.

"It gives her the opportunity to see animals and learn about animals," Walters said as Taylor-Leigh fed carrot slices to a miniature horse.

Cider Mill brings in guest entertainers on fall weekends, allows children to participate in the farm arts of scarecrow making and sheep shearing, takes them on pony rides and makes cider.

The 59-acre farm was founded in 1916 when Frederick Kelly planted an orchard of 5,000 apple trees. The mill was founded when Kelly gathered his first crop. Soon afterward, farmers throughout the region began lining up at 5 a.m. for use of the

mill, sometimes waiting in lines that stretched two miles, Nodar said.

The mill had passed through a few hands by 1969 when it closed, but Tom Owens bought the farm the next year, reopened the mill, added a bakery and opened the farm to the public. Cider Mill also has a petting farm open daily for groups and individuals.

Farm activities

Here is a list of farms in Anne Arundel and Howard counties that hold fall activities.

NEWARCC Petting Farm, 1557 Governor's Bridge Road in Davidsonville, is open to groups by appointment on weekdays, and for families and individuals from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays this month. Admission is $7 and includes a tour of the petting farm, a hayride and a pumpkin. A fall family fun night with a bonfire, a disc jockey and sing-a-longs is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 17. Information: 410-798-0206.

Wade's Pumpkin Farm, 8320 Elvaton Road, Millersville, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily this month. Hayrides and pumpkin picking are available from 9 a.m to 4: 30 p.m. weekdays or 12: 30 p.m. to 4: 30 p.m. weekends. Make appointments for weekday visits, but not weekends. Hayrides cost $3.75 weekdays and $4.75 weekends. Pumpkin seekers should visit early this year because the drought has left pumpkins smaller and less plentiful. Information: 410-647-5513.

Cider Mill Farm, 5012 Landing Road in Elkridge is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 26. Weekend activities include folk singing, scarecrow making, sheep shearing and living history demonstrations, hayrides and cider making. Visitors can watch fresh cider being pressed and should provide jugs to take some home. Information: 410-788-9595.

Larriland Farm, 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The farm offers continuous hayrides on weekends this month and a living maze and hot apple fritters. The farmers' market has many of the same vegetables for sale. Information: 410-442-2605.

Waterford Farm, 4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends this month. Visitors can take a free hayride tour of the 650-acre farm and pick corn, pumpkins and gourds. Children also can see farm animals, antique hand tools and farming equipment at the farm museum and watch bees make honey in a glass-enclosed observation beehive. Information: 301-854-6275.

Pub Date: 10/01/98

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