By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
A wide variety of families and other groups find hours of fun and laughter every fall at
A and G Produce north of St. Joseph.
Named for the children of proprietors Andy and Jessie Welsh, A and G has grown to such an extent that it is very nearly a self-supporting venture.
Their farm began in about 2004 with Gavin’s food allergies. They started growing the healthy food they fed their son and decided to sell it.
“It just keeps getting bigger every year,” Jessie said. “We started selling at the St. Joseph Farmers Market in about 2006.”
The Welshes manage their garden organically, although they are not certified organic.
Usually pick-your-own strawberries are offered, but this year some froze over winter and then there was hail. But the raspberries produced nice, big berries. They are fall-bearing Heritage berries.
“In the fall, most people spend three or four hours out here,” Andy said. “Every year we add new activities. This year it’s pony rides. “
Other activities include a corn cannon, a big gun that shoots cobs of corn at targets. A pumpkin slingshot flings gourds and pumpkins up to 400 feet.
Kids and those young at heart can have their faces painted.
Farm animals this year include a pony, a horse, a donkey, ducks, chickens and geese. “We also have three two-week-old calves,” Jessie said.
Many refreshments are offered in the clean and airy building, including walking tacos, brats and hot dogs, sloppy joes, pretzels, pumpkin pies, fresh-dipped caramel apples and cotton candy.
There are also hay-wagon rides, with up to 40 people going out at a time.
The Welshes can’t do it all alone so they hire 10 part-time helpers for the corn maze season. Their nephew, Brandon Hample and brother, Robbi Welsh help during the summer with planting, weeding and picking produce.
The corn maze covers 13 acres and is divided into two phases, for those with young children or anyone wanting to take a break. “People should allow one and a half to two hours for the corn maze alone,” Jessie said.
“We find that a lot of kids don’t know about animals and growing crops anymore,” said Andy.
“They don’t know where their food comes from,” Jessie said. “They go to lift a pumpkin and are surprised to discover that it’s attached to a long vine.”
The Welshes are pleased to be able to offer a natural, family-friendly alternative to more expensive activities.
“Families from grandparents to toddlers come out,” said Jessie. “There is something for everybody.”
“Last year, a bachelorette party came on a Saturday afternoon before going out for the evening,” Andy said.
“Lots of college kids come out here on dates — something different than dinner and a movie,” Jessie said.
Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts and preschool field trip groups come to see the fall fun.
“Target is scheduled to bring a group of employees out for a team-building activity,” Andy said.
Next year the Welshes will be marketing their venture to larger schools. They are formulating teaching materials for nearly every grade level.
Wristbands are given to all who visit, allowing them to be tallied. In 2011, 6,000 people visited.
A and G will be open through Oct. 28. Saturday hours are 10 to dark and Sunday from 11 to dark. People ages 12 and up enter for $8, ages 3 – 11 for $5 and ages 2 and under are free.
From St. Joseph, go north on County Road 2. Turn left on County Road 4 (Veterans Drive.) At the “Y” stay to the left onto 345th Street. It’s the first gray house on the right.
For more information, call the A and G hotline at (320) 290-0907.