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Minnesota Grown Corn Mazes 2018

Create lasting memories navigating a corn maze this fall! You can find corn mazes across Minnesota as far north as Kelsey and south as Worthington. Here’s a short list of just some of the 2018 Minnesota Grown corn mazes you might visit with friends or family for a day of fall fun.

Applewood Orchard Lakeville

Applewood Orchard features a 10-acre corn maze! Enjoy a hayride, children’s maze, and pedal tractors. Take home locally grown fall favorites like fall raspberries, pumpkins, and 17 varieties of apples including Haralson, Honeycrisp, Zestar!, and SweeTangoTM. Apples are available pre-picked or pick your own. Stop for a sweet treat in the farm store where you’ll find apple cider, mini donuts, caramel apples, local honey, and baked goods. Dogs are welcome on a leash. Check Applewood Orchard’s website for available apple varieties and hours.

aerial view of spiderweb corn maze
Applewood Orchard
aerial view of pirate ship corn maze
Carter's Red Wagon Farm

Carter’s Red Wagon Farm Park Rapids

Visit Carter’s Red Wagon Farm for a Pumpkin Party! Your admission to a Pumpkin Party includes lots of activities like: themed corn mazes, a dramatized wagon ride, Nerf wars, tree/barn house, and giant pumpkin boats. The kids will love watching a family-friendly illusionist and playing a round of mini golf. Pumpkin Parties take place every Saturday and MEA including three Military Appreciation days with discounted admission. Fuel up for more fun with homemade soup in bread bowls, fresh cut fries, and hand-battered cheese curds. Be sure to pick up your pumpkins from the General Store! Learn more about Carter’s Red Wagon Farm.

Country Blossom Farm Alexandria

With your all-day wristband to Country Blossom Farm, enjoy a day of fun exploring the 7-acre corn maze, a corn pit, jumping pillow, a pedal car track, and more. On Saturday, October 5th head out to the orchard for Flashlight Corn Maze night! Warm up with a coffee and freshly baked strudel while you browse the farm store for gifts and fall décor. You’ll also find farm fresh fall produce like pre-picked apples plus fall raspberries, Aronia berries, squash, pumpkins, and gourds. Check Country Blossom Farm’s website for available apple varieties and hours.

aerial view of elf corn maze
Country Blossom Farm
farmyard scene corn maze
Dehn's Pumpkins

Dehn’s Pumpkins Dayton

Pick your perfect pumpkin – big, small, lumpy, bumpy, or smooth – from the 10-acre pumpkin patch or pre-picked from the wagons. Enjoy fall fun attractions including: a 5-acre corn maze, corn pit, giant slide, inflatable jumpers, and hayrides. All attractions are open every day. On the weekends, enjoy all the fun you can handle with an all-day wristband. On Fridays and Saturdays, test your navigation and nerves with a flashlight corn maze. Learn more about Dehn’s Pumpkins.

Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard Hastings

At Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard, catch a wagon ride to the 10-acre corn maze - open every weekend. Get ready for Halloween with a pumpkin from the pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Fischer’s grows over 20 apples varieties which are available as pre-picked or pick your own. The kids (and adults!) will enjoy meeting the goats, chickens, and rabbits. Stop by the farm store to find apple cider, hard cider, caramel apples, and maple syrup. Call Fischer’s Croix Farm Orchard for apple varieties being picked and hours.

sky view of corn maze
Fischer's Croix Farm
aerial view of corn maze
Fresh Acres

Fresh Acres Monticello

New this year at Fresh Acres is a 5-acre corn maze and 2 ½ acres of fall activities! There are two maze options: a short 1/3 mile maze and a 2 ½ mile path. Open during weekends and MEA, make it a day with the petting zoo, corn pit, bale maze, and food vendors. Take home a special treat - maple syrup tapped and bottled right on the farm, or honey from the beehives in the backyard! Learn more about Fresh Acres.

The Farm on St Mathias Brainerd

Navigate this winding 6-acre corn maze through towering corn. There’s also a 1-acre maze for the littles with clear sightlines and a central gathering place! The Farm specializes in hosting senior living and assisted living hayrides, including handicapped accessible wagons. Enjoy freshly picked apples and shop locally made crafts, antiques, and locally made jams and jellies. Open during weekends through October 28th. Learn more about The Farm on St Mathias.

aerial farm view
The Farm on St Mathias
dragon castle corn maze design aerial view
Tweite's Family Farm

Tweite’s Family Farm Byron

Wow! This 12-acre corn maze, 22-acre Fun Park, and mini golf are sure to make a day of fun! 2018’s theme is Knights and Dragons which you’ll find in the maze design and other activities like the Jester’s Tricky Triangle. Attractions are available with an all-day wristband or purchased individually. Pick out your perfect pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, or choose from pre-picked pumpkins. Open during weekends and MEA. Learn more about Tweite’s Family Farm.

Ready for corn-fusing fall fun?

Search 21 mazes in the Minnesota Grown directory to find a corn maze near you: https://bit.ly/2QJiUe9

Locally Grown Road Trip: Southwest Minnesota

Take advantage of the fall weather before it’s gone with this family friendly southwest Minnesota road trip. This region of the state is known for its vast prairies, winding rivers and streams, and small towns. Catch a glimpse of history, find your perfect pumpkin, and try uniquely Minnesotan wine on this fun filled weekend adventure!

Our journey starts at Palmer’s Pumpkin Patch outside of Fairfax. At this family run farm, guests are sure to find their perfect pumpkin. Choose from exotic varieties in multiple colors, shapes, sizes, and textures.  In addition to the pumpkins, load up on squash, gourds, and Indian corn to spice up your fall decor this year.

Next, hop in the car and drive an hour south to the Laura Ingles Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove. Learn the history of the Wilder family and take a look inside the chapel, the dugout, the little red school house, and a covered wagon. Be sure to look for the Kelton doll collection which includes more than 250 dolls that were made between 1870 and today. Buy a bonnet in the store to remember your adventure.

After a blast from the past, head 30 minutes southwest to Stonegate Orchard outside of Slayton. This family run orchard offers a lot more than apples! Pop into their store for honey, local pottery, pumpkins, baked goods, and more than 16 juicy apple varieties. Before you go, stretch your legs with a stroll through the orchard, or pick a bag of your own apples.

outdoor pumpkin display
popcorn, honey, and apple display
Inside the store at Stonegate Orchard
view of the orchard sunset

On the way to the next farm, stop in at Blue Mounds State Park, outside of Luverne, for a healthy dose of fresh air. This hidden gem is a dream come true for birdwatchers and those who love to get outside. Take a short hike through the park to see the beautiful 100-foot Sioux Quartz Cliff and look for bison grazing in the grasslands along the way. Dive back into history in the historic Manfred House at the south end of the park, or learn about wildlife, geography, and the changing landscape in the visitor center. A 40 minute drive from the park, stop in at Spomer Classics. This automobile museum houses more than 200 neon vintage signs and numerous classic cars. Call ahead to book your tour.

Continue exploring southwest Minnesota’s farms just 10 minutes away at Ocheda Orchard outside of Worthington. This orchard was planted in 1965 and features dwarf size trees which makes for easy picking. Pick your own pumpkins and apples among their 5,000 trees. While you’re there, be sure to try their special variety known as B51.

Make another stop in Worthington at the weekly fall festival at Grandpa’s Fun Farm. This celebration includes a corn maze, crafts, a pumpkin cannon, a zip line, pumpkin painting, mini golf and a farmers market. This year, there are new adult trikes and air apple shooters. It’s enjoyable for the whole family!

jungle gym
Playground at Grandpa's Fun Farm
swing set
Grandpa's Fun Farm swing set

Round out your fall adventure at Round Lake Vineyards & Winery outside of Round Lake. This family business was established in 2007 and today is one of the largest vineyards in the Midwest with more than 30 acres of vines. Take a load off and try their wine and cider selection in their beautiful tasting room. Finish the day with an elegant dinner at the bistro.

plate of meat, cheese, and olives
Charcuterie plate served at Round Lake Vineyards and Winery
Dining room at Round Lake Vineyards and Winery
Dining room at Round Lake Vineyards and Winery

The fun doesn’t have to end here! Use the Minnesota Grown directory to find more amazing destinations in southwest Minnesota.

Make it a two day affair! Check out these awesome (and affordable) camping options:

Map it! Mix and match our stops with your own to create a custom trip. Click here to chart your journey: https://bit.ly/2ppO79T

map of southwest Minnesota

Pumpkin Care

Keep your pumpkins in tip-top condition all autumn long with these easy tricks!

Choosing your pumpkin:

  • Buy locally! This ensures that your pumpkin was picked recently and will hold up longer.
  • While at the pumpkin patch, look for pumpkins with clear skin and a firmly attached stalk.
  • Go for pumpkins without soft spots, as this may indicate frost damage. The skin should feel hard on all sides.
  • Do not lift your pumpkin by the stem: use two hands to lift in order to avoid damaging the stem.

At home:

  • Be sure to keep your pumpkin out of extreme temperatures. If it is a hot fall day, consider putting them in the fridge. If the temp is near freezing, bring your pumpkins inside. When pumpkins freeze and thaw, they rot faster.
  • Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight.
  • Wait as long as possible to carve. Pumpkins begin breaking down soon after they are cut. Though it may be tempting, avoid creating your artistic masterpieces more than a week or two before Halloween day.

When decorating:

  • Use petroleum jelly. Coat the exposed flesh with the jelly slow break down from air exposure.
  • For a longer lasting pumpkin, opt for paint when decorating.
  • Avoid using candles. Heat will only speed up decomposition. Consider battery powered lights instead.
  • Use a wash to prevent bacterial growth. Look online to find easy recipes for pumpkin preservations washes made from borax, peppermint oil, and water. For best results, fully submerge your pumpkin and let it sit in the solution overnight.
  • Use a preservation spray. After the initial wash, it can be beneficial to regularly spray the pumpkins to keep them from breaking down. Like the wash, this can be made from the same three simple ingredients.

Feeling inspired? Find your perfect fall pumpkin with the Minnesota Grown directory.

Pumpkins lined up

Credit: Explore Minnesota

Meet a Farmer: Cazzi and Evelyn of Wacholz Farm

cazzi stands in the field beside his herd of cattle

Cicadas hum in the walnut and cottonwood trees of the farm. Seeking shelter from the noonday sun, a Black Angus bull bellows, making himself known. Red and black piglets avoid the steamy Minnesota summer day by dashing between the cool barnyard and inviting shade trees.

This barnyard is the “office” of Cazzi Wacholz in Hayward, Minnesota. Located in the heart of south central Minnesota, near to Albert Lea and the Iowa border, the pastures of Wacholz Farm are unique on a landscape that traditionally grows row crops like corn and soybeans. Pastured cattle, hogs, and lamb haven’t always been the focus of this 110 year old family farm. When Cazzi returned to his grandparent’s dairy farm nine years ago, he was inspired to try a new style of farming. When Cazzi’s girlfriend, Evelyn Monteiro, began leading Wacholz Farm’s marketing efforts this past year, Cazzi was able to find even more time to focus on farm management.

At the heart of Wacholz Farm is a focus on creating high quality, grassfed meat for customers by giving the animals that will become that meat as healthy of a life as possible. Cazzi attributes his animals' good health to the variety of forage options on his pastures, and he works hard to provide a wide variety of perennial and annual plants that his cattle, hogs, and sheep will enjoy grazing on. Just a few of these plants include white and red clovers, tall fescue, Italian rye grass, oats, rye, millet, and turnips. “By having such a wide variety, the animals adjust what they eat based on their nutritional needs. If they eat more of one type of plant now, they adjust and eat other types later,” says Cazzi.

When choosing the species of cattle, hogs, and sheep, Cazzi carefully selects breeds that will work well in the hot summers and cold winters of Hayward, Minnesota. For example, his sheep are St. Croix and Florida Native crosses. This combination provides a heat and humidity resistant meat lamb that does not need to be shorn. With hogs, Cazzi has found that crossing heritage breeds like Berkshire and Duroc has led to sows with a stronger maternal instinct, allowing him to spend less time watching piglets closely.

Cazzi and Evelyn are proud of the accomplishments made on the farm over the past nine years, and they look forward to what the next nine will bring. “I truly think it takes 10 years to become established as a multispecies grassfed farm,” said Cazzi, as he noted how much he had to learn in the first years of transitioning the farm. Now he feels this transition has been a benefit to the farm, even in seemingly small moments: “Did you know you can actually hear worms moving after a rain? As I walk along the paths to the fields, the soil is covered in earthworms – the soil is so healthy now!”

Two sows with piglets in a shelter. They are lying on straw.
Lambs playing while ewes are eating hay in the background.
cazzi and evelyn smile in front of their Minnesota Grown proud member sign

Recipe: Pulled Pork Tater Tot Hotdish

It’s National Pork Month!

Warm up with this savory recipe shared by Minnesota Pork Board.

Ingredients:

5 lbs. pork shoulder (Boston Butt)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup kosher salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. ground coffee
1 18-oz. bottle BBQ sauce
1 bag of frozen tater tots
1 can of baked beans
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, chili powder, onion, garlic, paprika, cayenne, coffee; then, rub all over pork.
  2. Place pork in a slow cooker, pour in BBQ sauce, and let it cook on high for 8 hours.
  3. Shred pork with 2 forks. Let it sit in the slow cooker.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  5. Spray the bottom of an 8-by-11-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray.
  6. In a bowl, combine pulled pork and baked beans.
  7. Spread the mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish and top with shredded cheese. Then, add a layer of tater tots on top.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tater tots are starting to turn golden brown and the casserole is just slightly bubbling at the sides.
  9. Remove from oven, and sprinkle the tater tots with more cheese. Bake for 5–10 minutes more to let the cheese melt.

Tater tot hotdish

Meet a Farmer: Carla of Iron Shoe Farm

Having a daughter who struggled with health problems as a young child, Carla Mertz and her husband wanted to find a way to give their little girl healthy and local food. Carla, an interior designer, and her husband, an engineer who grew up going to his grandparents dairy farm, didn’t imagine themselves becoming farmers, but they saw it as the best way to know where their food was coming from. In 2013, the family took the leap and purchased Iron Shoe Farm in Princeton.

In their first year, the couple had 15 head of cattle and about 150 meat birds on 65 acres. Since then, the farm has gone through drastic changes. Their flock of birds has grown, and today they raise between 1,000 and 1,500 meat birds each year. In addition, their herd of cattle has fluctuated in size throughout the years, and they are currently trying out different breeds in an effort to find the breed best suited to their land and climate. The farm grew again when they added 15 hogs and three horses which can be found in the pastures next to a large fenced vegetable garden and quaint red barn that shelters their young birds.

fenced vegetable garden

However, the biggest change to the farm was the addition of microgreens, which now provide income to the family year-round. Microgreens are edible, little greens that fall between baby greens and sprouts in size. Due to their small size, they have a more intense flavor and are packed with nutrients. Unlike traditional crops, such as corn, most microgreens are grown indoors under grow lights and can be harvested between two and four weeks. The Mertz’s started out with just a few trays of the nutritious little plants, but have rapidly scaled up to meet demand. Today, they grow about 50 trays a week which go to local restaurants such as The Tipsy Chicken, Rockwoods, Main Street Eatery, and The Good Earth Food Coop. During the summer, they double their supply to sell at farmers markets including Big Lake and Princeton.

2018 05 29 Taken Iron Shoe Farm microgreens 4
2018 05 29 Taken Iron Shoe Farm cattle cow

Their home has become an unconventional farm, and the upper floor of the house glows with bright grow lights with trays of greens lining the walls. The short shelf life of microgreens make them difficult to produce and market on a large scale, so many microgreen farms resemble the Mertz’s, a home turned greenhouse. These tiny plants reflect the changing agricultural industry and the resourcefulness of farmers who want to provide local foods year round.

As the farm enters its 80th year, Carla hopes to use her farm to build community and understanding around food and agriculture. Recently, the family has partnered with Rockwoods, a restaurant in Ostego, to create a direct farm to table food supply. Carla wants to focus on holistic farming by breeding their animals naturally, sourcing used grains from breweries for animal feed, and keeping their animals on pasture year round. The family farm also gives back by donating a portion of their profits to INDY, a Minnesota organization that provides support for people battling cancer. In the future, Carla hopes to secure a permit to host events at the farm.

Keep up with the happenings at Iron Shoe Farm on their Instagram or Facebook page. Buy directly from Carla and her family at the Big Lake and Princeton Farmers Markets, or place an order on their website.  

Recipe: Pork Chops and Apples

Embrace the flavors of flavors of fall with pork chops and apples!

*Tried and true recipe recommended by Pleasant Valley Orchard and sourced from the “Apple Lover’s Cookbook” by Shirley Munson and Jo Nelson.*

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. Butter
6 pork chops
4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
¼ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

Instructions:

Brown pork chops on both sides. Place apple slices in greased baking dish. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over apples. Add pork chops. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1½ hours, serves 6.

close up of apples
stock photo apple pork chops

Fall Flowers Re-imagined

Are your beautiful summer flower pots starting to turn lanky and ready for a fall refresh? Mums are commonly known as great fall flowers, but there are many other Minnesota Grown plants you can choose to dress-up your garden planters too.

Members Wagner Garden Center and Drummer’s Garden Center shared some ideas for additional flowers that add fun color and texture this fall.

fall favorites

Calibrachoa

Looking for a trailing plant option? These small, petunia-like flowers can handle chilly frosty nights down to about 28 degrees. When it gets colder, cover calibrachoa with a bed sheet or other fabric to make them last a bit longer through fall.

Dusty Miller

With its silver white foliage, this plant mixes well with other colors and can handle temperatures below freezing.

Echinacea

Butterflies love coneflowers and so do we! The Echinacea Sombrero Series is a new type of coneflower that has a longer bloom and sturdy stems that will hold-up well in many container garden settings. You can find it in purple, red, coral, yellow, or white.

Heucherella

For a smart investment, consider planting colorful heucherella in your container gardens. In late October, this perennial can be transferred into the ground. With regular watering until the ground freezes – and a little luck – they’ll come back in spring for you to enjoy again.

fall flower chart

Pansy

Antsy gardeners often await pansies in spring because they can handle the cool evenings until the risk of frost has passed. This trait makes pansies a great option for fall as well! Even better, the beautiful orange and yellow varieties mix well with other autumn plants.

Ornamental or Vegetable Kale, Swiss Chard, and Beets

Containers full of unique foliage have been a fun trend for a few years. When considering ornamental or vegetable kales, Swiss chard, and beets for your arrangements, mix a variety of colors, shapes, and textures for maximum eye-appeal.

Zinnias

Known for their cheery colors (shades of pink, orange, purple, red, white, and yellow), this classic summer flower is frost tolerant and easily transitions into fall as well.

Ready to go out and shop? Find the local garden center nearest to you for fall flowers and expert planting advice.

Exciting Changes at the State Fair

Each year, thousands of people visit the Minnesota Grown booth in the Agriculture Horticulture Building. Fairgoers can talk one-on-one with Minnesota Grown farmers, learn about Minnesota’s amazing local food system, and take a copy of the Minnesota Grown Directory.

In the past, our booth featured shelf stable goods from our members, a trivia board, and a small photo booth. While all of these things will still be at the booth, we are excited to announce some big upgrades!

BAnner showing a variety of farmers with the hashtag We Are Minnesota Grown

New banner featuring a variety of Minnesota Grown farmers from around the state

This year, our photo booth is completely revamped. The photo backdrop is doubling in size, and we are adding playful animal cutouts that both you and the kids in your life will enjoy. After you pose for your photo, look for fun facts about each farm animal. In addition, visit our booth to read more about the benefits of buying local. Plus, check out our new display cooler. The cooler is a great way to showcase the wide variety of Minnesota Grown products like meat, cheese, veggies, and fruit. Next to the cooler, we have space for shelf stable goods and plants. Be sure to look up to see our new #MinnesotaGrown wall banner that features photos of nine members from around the state.

Tattoo design with the slogan Minnesota Grown Can't be Beet

We are extra excited for this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together. Make sure to stop by and check out all of our upgrades. Meet a local farmer and try one of our new “punny” temporary tattoos. We look forward to seeing you!