Pumpkin-spiced fun awaits kids of all ages at Brown Hill Farms beginning Sept. 25. Kids love kids, and baby goats born during sunflower season are sure to be a hit with children again when Brown Hill Farms reopens on Sept. 25.
(A product of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce)
Two big seasons down and one more to go at Brown Hill Farms in Lemon Township. 2021 has turned out to be a banner year in terms of visitation to the venue on Avery Station Road that first welcomed families to walk through their produce fields and take photos of their farm animals. In 2017, they planted a pumpkin patch specifically for guests and invited them to work their way through a corn maze. Sunflower fields that were 15 years in the making opened in 2018, and tulip fields bursting with color were opened in the spring of 2020.
Each new offering brings people from farther away and, this year especially, Michelle is watching new and returning guests connect the dots with other attractions in Wyoming County. “We had people come all the way from Ohio for the sunflowers,” co-owner/operator Michelle Brown told us. “I hope it becomes an annual tradition for them.”
Generally speaking, Michelle said that people drove up to three hours to see the tulip fields and one to one-and-a-half hours to browse and take photos in acres of towering sunflowers. The most notable difference this year, she noted, is that the travelers are asking what else they can do in the Tunkhannock area.
“They ask us where to eat, where to stay, and where they can go shopping,” Michelle related. “One lady who came from State College for the tulips returned with a friend for sunflowers. She told me that she loved the lunch recommendation that I gave her in the spring and asked where else she should go eat.” Business owners in the area have also been telling Michelle that people come to them directly from Brown Hill Farms.
“Especially now, people are looking for more things to do outside,” said Jean Ruhf, executive director of the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau. “More and more families are looking for family-friendly activities, and Brown Hill Farms is definitely a big draw.” Likewise, Ruhf noted, a visit to Brown Hill Farms can be a great add-on to a planned trip and give visitors yet another reason to spend more time in the Endless Mountains.
The farm has been in Michelle’s husband, Scott Brown’s family since 1868 and continues to be a major supplier of seasonal produce to their own roadside stand and other retailers. As Scott began diversifying the farm’s portfolio, Michelle started looking into agritourism, a term that refers to providing a hands-on experience at a farm in addition to the opportunity to take something home.
“We did a tulip dig this year,” Michelle related. Fans of the farm who follow events scheduled on Facebook or at www.brownhillfarms.com were given a variety of dates and times for which they prepurchased tickets and brought their own buckets to fill. “I was pleasantly surprised with how well that was received,” said Michelle. “I think they just wanted the chance to be on a farm.” Tulip bulbs will be available for purchase until the end of this season.
According to an article on the topic posted on the USDA website, agritourism has the potential to help revitalize rural economies, educate the public about agriculture, and preserve agricultural heritage. Additionally, the article suggests, being located near natural amenities or in close proximity to other outdoor activities has a statistically significant positive impact on agritourism activity.
For example, Michelle also likes to send her guests to see the Tunkhannock Viaduct at Nicholson. “I just think that’s so unique to our area,” she remarked. People from Wilkes-Barre and Scranton and beyond have commented to Michelle that they never knew that this part of the state was “so beautiful,” having never before been beyond Tunkhannock.
“I especially like that agritourism is helping farmers diversify and make more money while still keeping true to the heritage of our region,” Ruhf commented. “At Brown’s farm, they have a variety of items they make and sell outside the flowers. Even their cows are now on T-shirts.”
The gift shop will be open again on Saturday, Sept. 25, when Brown Hill Farms reopens for pumpkin and corn maze season, which lasts through Saturday, Oct. 30.
As with every farming operation, Michelle already has an eye on next year. She just ordered an additional 50,000 tulip bulbs to amplify the beauty of more than 500,000 ready for replanting from this past year. She wants to make tulips available for purchase next spring as a grab-and-go bouquet.
After successfully conducting three classes each Wednesday during the height of the COVID pandemic for homeschooled children, Michelle is considering a new educational component next year on Fridays.
The corn maze in 2019 featured a rendering of the Tunkhannock Viaduct at Nicholson. A new maze will open on Sept. 25.