Ag Journal – The Joy of Agritourism

KLBK News

LUBBOCK, Texas — Agritourism is not only a way to diversify a farm or ranch but it allows tourist to step away from technology for a few hours and be able to enjoy the beauty of nature and a simpler way of life.

With their love and enthusiasm for agriculture, Atl’do Farms has been creating those kinds of memories for families for 19 years.

The biggest draw for Atl’do Farms is the 12 acre corn maze which was their first attraction in 2001.

The idea came from an article in a progressive farmer magazine by a gentleman in Utah who had produced a corn maze for a masters thesis on ag diversification. The Simpson family, who owns and operates Atl’do Farms, contacted him for a consultation.

With farming roots running deep in their family it seemed like a natural fit for the land that for so many years produced cotton, grain, sorghum, and wheat.

Every new venture can bring its own problems and that is what can happen with a mono culture system like growing corn behind corn. It is not conducive to healthy soil.

Once the season for the corn maze has ended they harvest the corn and immediately plant a multi species cover crop which consists of six or seven different species. 

Legumes, a variety of radishes and turnips, collards and each species has a particular function. A cover crop also helps with water conservation and weed control.

This marks the third year to put in a cover crop and they are seeing vast improvement with vitality of the soil .

“We pretty much quit plowing,” James Simpson said. “We don’t put a plow in the field. Once we harvest it we will go in and just immediately sow the cover crop and will plant the corn right back in the cover once we have terminated it.”

The pumpkin patch is another big draw at Atl’do Farms with 10 acres of the most unique pumpkin varieties. Guests hop aboard a tractor pulled wagon to find the perfect pumpkins for this season.

This plot of land also utilizes cover crop which is fed by a temporary drip irrigation system allowing them to farm flat and plant the pumpkins directly in the cover.

Atl’do Farms hosts about 50,000 people a season and takes 60 employees to operate.

There is something for the whole family including a path in the corn maze that was designed for smaller children called Fairy Tail Trail. The trail has no decision points and has storyboards that feature a fairy tail with an agricultural slant.

The joy of agritourism for the Simpson family not only comes from the people they serve but also the opportunity to work together as a family.

“It’s a blessing to see people have fun and enjoy being together and hopefully creating great memories with their friends and families,” Patti said. “It’s just great to be able to see kids run and play and be kids.”

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