Apples And Alpacas: Enjoy Autumn By Exploring These Farms Around Kansas City
Meet a pack of alpacas, milk a cow and help bring in the harvest at local farms and vineyards around Kansas City.
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For many of us, the lingering days of summer leading to the onset of fall are best spent outdoors. The sun still feels good but isn’t quite as hot, blooming flowers are replaced by colorful leaves and everybody is pulling out their hoodies and cardigans.
It's also harvest time for many farms across our region. Soon, fall festivals will return, inviting city folk and suburbanites to step outside a little further beyond city limits.
This month, you can explore Louisburg Cider Mill during Ciderfest, Sept. 25-26 and Oct. 2-3. Ciderfest is in its 42nd year of giving attendees a closer look at how apples are freshly pressed into cider.
It's also a form of agritourism, and the benefits are two-fold: farmers profit off goods sold to tourists — such as caramel apples, cider and kettle corn — and tourists get to learn something new about how their food is grown and processed.
Agritourism pairs — as you can guess — tourism and agriculture, and is a great way to get some fresh air and experience something new. And Kansas City's proximity to hundreds of registered agritourism farms offers ample outlets to explore. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Shatto Milk Company
You’ve likely seen Shatto Milk Company's glass-bottled, sometimes colorful milk at your grocery store. But the dairy farm also produces products that don’t make it to every grocery store shelf, such as butter, ice cream, cheese and even milk soap.
Did you know you can tour the farm? And even milk a cow? Tours are by appointment only, Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Be sure to wear comfy clothes and shoes you don't mind getting a little dirty — that's key to most agritourism experiences.
Sometimes the farm hosts events, but nothing is currently scheduled. Watch their Facebook page and website for updates.
Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery
Holy-Field Vineyard and Winery got its start back in 1986 when father and daughter duo Les and Michelle Meyer planted Native American and French hybrid grape varieties. Now, they tend to more than 12,000 grapevines across 30 acres.
At Holy-Field, you can relax with a walk through the vines, taste wine, picnic on the lawn or listen to music at one of its many events.
But, if you plan ahead, you can also help bring in the grape harvest on "Picking Sundays." With a bucket and shears in tow, you'll learn first-hand how to harvest and crush grapes, and earn a free lunch for your hard work. Reservations are full for this season, but you can call and join the waiting list — or wait until July 2022 when reservations open for the next picking season.
See the Holy-Field website for harvest dates and upcoming events, including Oktoberfest on Saturday, Oct. 9.
YaYa's Alpaca Farm
If you’ve never been up close and personal with an alpaca, here’s your chance. YaYa's Alpaca Farm in Cass County has a whole herd, and you can schedule a tour to meet them in person.
With easy-going temperaments and no top front teeth, alpacas are great with little kids, which makes a trip to YaYa's all the more family-friendly. The store on the farm sells all sorts of alpaca products, but if you really fall in love, they also sell the alpacas themselves!
Tours are by appointment only and cost $8 per visitor. Small groups can schedule a tour online. YaYa's can also accommodate large groups for birthday parties or special events. Just call the farm ahead of time to schedule your party.
Gieringer's Family Orchard & Berry Farm
Gieringer's Family Orchard & Berry Farm started in 2001 and has expanded to include all sorts of U-pick produce, including peaches, strawberries, sweet corn and more. You can even pick your own zinnias and sunflowers when they're in bloom.
This time of year, visitors flock to Gieringer's for apple and pumpkin picking, corn mazes and apple slingshot. In fact, the farm offers so many educational and interactive experiences that visitors can buy a season pass for $25 per person or $80 for a family of five.
Otherwise, daily admission is $10 per person, and the farm is open to the public Friday through Sunday.
The owner of Gieringer's says many people don’t realize when things are in season — sunflowers are over for the year, for instance — so check the farm's Facebook page or call before visiting.
Green Dirt Farm
Green Dirt Farm is a true "dirt-to-table" farm that has a lot going on, including sheep's milk cheese production. The farm hosts cheese and wine tasting events at their retail shop and cafe in nearby Weston, Missouri, as well as farm table dinners with local chefs.
Green Dirt also offers a $15 tour of the farm and creamery, which includes a cheese tasting. Visitors are welcome to bring blankets for a post-tour picnic on the farm's front lawn.
Note: Green Dirt Farm's website mentions that tours are difficult for people with limited mobility and may not be ideal for children under eight years old.
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