A group of toddlers rushed from the parking lot at High Country Orchard to check out the waiting cow train early Wednesday morning.
Made up of little metal carts painted to look like cows, with names and all, the cow train has become one of the most popular ways to see the orchard, said Angie McDermott, a manager there.
At $5 a ride, it’s “really popular,” McDermott said.
The orchard ramped up their weekday offerings this year under new management.
They offer school tours complete with a petting zoo and pumpkin patch.
At Walter’s Fruit Ranch, kids cheered as they set off on a hayride.
Walter’s has been offering school tours since in 1970s, said owner Jason Morrell.
“We get families here that talk about how when they were a kid they went on that school tour,” Morrell said. “We have three and four generations of people that have been coming here.”
The tours aren’t just a fun break from school, but a learning experience, Morrell said. It’s a way to connect children to their food and teach them about agriculture.
“It’s really important for us to show the kids where their fruit comes from and give them a little education about farming,” he said.
Morrell estimates they give 300 to 400 kids a chance to pick apples and zip through a corn maze.
The tours aren’t the biggest money-maker for the farm, but the contribution to the community makes it worth it, Morrell said. Many kids who got their first apple-picking experience at Walter’s now come back with their own kids, he said.
“We have these families that have become lifelong members of Walter’s,” Morrell said with a chuckle.
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