8 Family-Friendly Farms Near Atlanta
Kids of all ages will love exploring the fun at these farms just a short drive from the city.
According to a recent research study, a surprising number of Americans are agriculturally illiterate. The study, done by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, found 7 percent of American adults think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. If that's the percentage of adults, how many kids do you think know where their food comes from?
A great way for kids and adults to learn about agriculture is to make it fun. These eight Georgia farms just a short drive from Atlanta offer tours, festivals and special events that teach about food production, as well as expose city slickers to life on the farm.
Southern Belle Farm, McDonough
Southern Belle Farm is straight out of a storybook with a big silo and bright red barn. There are more than 40 activities offered on this 330-acre family farm in McDonough, and every season brings a new crop of produce and fun. Fall is one of the busiest times at Southern Belle. That's when the pumpkins are ready for picking and the corn maze is in full swing. Winter brings fir trees and Santa. Springtime is strawberry picking season. In summer, you’ll find blackberries and blueberries. No matter the season, guests can bounce on the jumping pillow, take a ride on the cow train, or take a spin around the track on the pedal carts. Check before heading out to see if they’ll be running my favorite attraction: the pig races.
The Pumpkin Patch at Yule Forest Hwy 155, Stockbridge
Yule Forest is one of the best places to learn about the importance of agriculture in our society, all with a side of fun. The jumping pillow and inflatables are the place to get some energy out before touring the farm. Afterward, visit the bee house to learn the importance of pollinators, see the hydroponic garden in the science center to learn how you can garden without dirt, and even take a tractor-pulled hayride through the cartoon forest to see the farm animals. Here you can pick your own pumpkins and cut your own Christmas tree, too.
Dickey Farms, Musella
Dickey Farms is the oldest continuously operating peach packinghouse in Georgia. In addition to peaches, they also have fresh pecans. Like many of Georgia's farms, this is a family business. Robert Lee Dickey II (Mr. Bob), "Robert" Lee Dickey III, and Robert "Lee" Dickey IV along with other family members work together to continue the farm's legacy in this rural middle Georgia community. If you're lucky, you can catch Mr. Bob, who is now 80+-years-old at the packinghouse. Grab some of Dickey’s world famous peach ice cream, sit a spell in the rocking chairs and ask him about growing up on the farm and all the changes he’s seen.
Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley
Lane Southern Orchards is best known for peaches and pecans, but it also has you-pick strawberries, blueberries and even kiwi! Lane also has the only apple-picking orchard south of Atlanta. After picking, enjoy lunch in the cafe and shopping in the farm market. During peach season, the big attraction is the packing line tour. See how peaches get from the trees to your grocery. Watch them being sorted, and then visit the market to pick out a few of your favorite variety to take home.
The Rock Ranch, The Rock
The Rock Ranch is a country Disney World, aiming to teach while entertaining. Each season brings new adventures and each weekend is a different theme, like superheroes, National Pumpkin Destruction Day and holiday lights. One ticket price and you can play all day on 20+ farm attractions like the corncob, where you can get lost in all the kernels, or race tractors around the track. Take a break from the attractions, grab a cane pole and slow down a bit at the fishing hole. Amid all the fun is a 1,250-acre working cattle ranch.
Farmview Market, Madison
Although this isn't a working farm, the Farmview Market in Madison is a good place to start your agriculture education. Located just off I-20, before you get to historic downtown Madison, Farmview is a locally sourced grocery store, butcher shop and farmers market all rolled into one. Taste the freshness difference at the Farmview Cafe, the only farm-to-table quick service restaurant in the state. They have a killer smoked chicken salad sandwich. From April to October, meet the farmers themselves at the weekly farmers market, where all market vendors must grow or make the products they sell, no resellers allowed.
Mitcham Farm, Oxford
Members of the Mitcham family have operated this Oxford farm for more than 100 years. In 2004, the family expanded farm operations, so now in addition to growing food to sell to local school systems, the public can visit the farm to pick pumpkins, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Celebrate the fall harvest by getting lost in the corn maze, and the springtime Strawberry Festival is not to be missed.
Berry's Christmas Tree Farm, Covington
Not all farms grow vegetables or have cows munching in the fields. At Berry’s Tree Farm in Covington, growing Christmas trees is the family business, and you are invited to cut your own Christmas tree. After picking out the perfect conifer, stroll through the village for fresh garland, wreaths and decorations. Take the kids on a train ride, or let them visit with Santa. Berry’s is like visiting the North Pole, in Georgia.