Ingenuity and quirky fun abound at these new-Style farming escapes
By Kate Silver
Fields across America are experiencing a new dawn as farming becomes the “in” thing. And it’s not just farm-to-table dinners and pick-and-pay produce stands that are attracting attention. City and country dwellers alike are discovering that farmers have some major surprises up their sleeves. Sure, you can still find big red barns, rustling cornfields and iconic silos. But innovation abounds—in the form of everything from vertical farms to pizza farms—at a number of off-the-beaten-path farming destinations. Your trailblazing, discovery-seeking Chevrolet Sonic—the only small car that’s built in America*—is the perfect vehicle for exploring these unique down-home country outposts. And its responsive handling can tackle any farm’s dirt roads.
Pizza may not grow on trees, but all of its ingredients come from the farm. Nowhere is that more apparent than on a Tuesday night at Pizza on the Farm, an event hosted by A to Z Produce and Bakery. Here, people come from near and far to try the farm-fresh pie, and wander among rows upon rows of pizza-perfect fresh vegetables. Bring a blanket and enjoy the pie where it tastes best—on the farm.
Vertical farming could be the future of how we grow our fruits and vegetables in cities. Urban renewal meets sustainability at The Plant, a new vertical farm in Chicago, located inside a former meatpacking facility. The Plant relies on aquaculture, which means schools of fish fertilize the plants, and the plants—in turn—filter the water for the fish. Here, visitors can see the fruits of The Plant’s labor, as greenery sprouts on rafts, before being harvested and sold at a local farmer’s market. Tours are available three days a week.
Alpaca Farm (and Galena Log Cabins)
Spend a night in these roomy log cabins within view of the beautiful starry sky—and you’re also just a few feet away from two fields of camelids. Galena Log Cabins is home to an alpaca farm, and the owners actually allow guests to grab a leash and take an alpaca for a walk. Enjoy the peace and quiet of farm life (but don’t expect to find any fruits and vegetables here) as you get to know these gentle, long-necked, doe-eyed creatures.
China Ranch Date Farm
Farming in the desert? It’s more prevalent than you might think. The climate of the Mojave, it turns out, is perfect for date trees, and this working family farm is open to visitors. Guests can hike through the mudhills and slot canyons, or wander amid the date palm trees. Whatever you do, be sure and stop by the gift shop for a taste of the farms caramel-like dates—particularly in the form of a date milk shake, date cookies and date bread.
Kliebert’s Turtle & Alligator Farm
See for yourself what swamp farm life is like on a guided tour on the Swamp People Trail. Around the Kliebert family’s property, you’ll find nearly 50,000 turtles and 300 gators, measuring up to 18 feet long. Let’s hope they’re not hungry.
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Kate Silver is an award-winning journalist and editor based in Chicago. Her work appears regularly in Spirit Magazine, Men’s Health, the Chicago Tribune and Midwest Living, as well as on Parents.com.
*Assembled in the United States of U.S. and globally sourced parts.