Meuer Farm Named Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association's 2013 Business of the Year

January 31, 2013

Shawn Reilly

Chilton Times Journal

With consumers focusing on eating fresh food and wanting to learn more about where their foods come from, the agriculture tourism business is one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry. One of the company’s leading the way in this field is Chilton’s Meuer Farms. The Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association recognized Meuer Farms by naming it the industry’s Business of the Year in January. For Dave and Leslie Meuer, the award symbolizes the commitment the have made in the farm. “It shows that we are not some flash-in-the-pan [business] that was here this year and not the next year,” Leslie says.” It’s something on the wall that says we’ve been working hard at this for a number of years now.” It’s been five years since Meuer Farms made the commitment into ag-tourism. Many people associate Meuer Farms with the elaborate corn maze they hold each fall. But there is more to the farm. There is the raw honey and the maple syrup in the spring. There’s the pick-your-own and pre-picked strawberries that are available in the early summer. But one of the key items is their hayrides which, unlike some are a short trip around the pasture, give the rider in-depth knowledge of the farm. “Our hayrides are educational,” Dave says. “They last 45 minutes and travel two miles. We actually go into the pasture to where the cows are and talk about the animals. We stop by the stream that runs through the property which is the Brothertown Creek and discuss where it comes from and where it goes. Our third stop is where we have 4,000 black walnut trees. A lot of people who live here and north have not seen them because they are usually grown south of here. We explain what they are and what they are used for. The next stop is where we talk about the maple syrup and explain everything that goes on from the collecting to the boiling. The last stop is by the bees.” The hayrides are interactive. Dave and Leslie encourage questions so that their riders get a full understanding of their farm. For groups that are really inquisitive, the hayride can be journey on farming in Wisconsin. “I’ve had groups from Hawaii and New York City,” Dave says. “Those rides end up being an hour and a half because they were not familiar with [Wisconsin farming].The Hawaiian group knew about bees and pollination and nothing else. The New York City group had no idea.” “They knew about concrete,” Leslie says. In addition to being interactive, they are also for everyone. The farm is handicapped accessible and so is the hayrides. Those with wheelchairs or need additional help can go directly on the wagon with no stairs involved. It’s a service the Meuers have in order to give everyone access to the farm. Last year, the Meuers estimate that nearly 20,000 people came to the farm. People came from all over the United States for a visit. And though it may be stretching to call Meuer Farm a world-wide destination, the farm does attract visitors from all across the country and from all over the world. “We tried something new, Leslie says. “We bought a map of the country and a map of the world and we marked on there where people were from. We’ve had exchange students in from the West Bank, Turkey and Iran. We had people from Ireland, Japan and Australia.” “We want to be farm that is an actual operating farm that visitors can come to and see the things that are going on and where you can learn,” Dave says. “That’s what we are about.”

Click here to read the article from the Chilton Times Journal website »