Meet the Farmers Feeding the World: Kansas Agritourism

By Ron Bernthal

If you have traveled through Kansas in the past year or so, you might have seen billboards along highways saying, “1 Kansas farmer feeds more than 155 people + YOU.”  It’s no secret Kansas is a leading agricultural producer, with plenty of farms and ranches spanning the state.

Heartland

Heartland Farm © Teresa Johnson

As temperatures cool, harvest celebrations begin for many communities across the state. During the summer and fall seasons, Kansas Agritourism businesses welcome thousands of visitors to their farms, ranches and wineries to showcase their offerings. Kansas agricultural producers are realizing the benefits of tailoring their operations to tourism. They find tourists enjoy the rural activities they participate in, as these activities provide lifelong memories for visitors, as well as additional revenue for the Kansas farmers who host them. Here are just a few farms hoping to see you next year.

C2T Ranch in Plainville is a regenerative ranch located in Northwest Kansas. With 150-foot-tall limestone bluffs towering over the winding Saline River, many visitors to the ranch often say, “I can’t believe this is Kansas.” Rated the No. 1 Hipcamp (an online booking site for tent camping, RV parks, cabins, treehouses and glamping) location in Kansas, there are several opportunities for primitive camping, as well as two RV sites, two glamping tents and add-on services such as “tanking” down the river in good, old-fashioned stock tanks (ranchers know about these). C2T also offers UTV ranch tours and meat bundles for campfire cooking. The ranch was recently discovered as the location of the Battle of the Saline River, the first recorded battle for the Buffalo Soldiers out of Fort Leavenworth.

Saltwell

Saltwell Farm Kitchen © Michael Snell and Doug Stremel

 

Saltwell Farm Kitchen in Overbrook is an LGBTQ+-owned farm and one of Kansas’ newest agritourism experiences. Located on a historic Kansas homestead, just 15 miles west of Lawrence, Saltwell reimagines fine, rustic dining on reclaimed barn wood tables hidden throughout native walnut groves and among vibrant wildlife. During colder months, the winter parlor is located in the historic farmhouse nearby. Dining at Saltwell begins on Friday or Saturday nights (private group dinners can be arranged on other nights), with a drive past lovely lakeside scenery, and a welcoming, dry hard cider. The three- to four-hour Saltwell dinner experience consists of a farm-to-table (literally) tasting menu, featuring eight courses inspired by the seasons, local ingredients, neighboring farmers and foraged foods.

Heartland Farm © Teresa Johnson

Heartland Farm is an 80-acre farm located in Pawnee Rock, in the central Plains crossroads of the United States. The farm is a 30-year-old ministry owned by the Dominican Sisters of Peace, home to a Christian community committed to the healing and care of the Earth and its inhabitants. Residents farm with a passion for addressing the “hungers of our world” through practices of regenerative agriculture and hospitality. The land and its gardens and pastures have been managed organically since the farm’s beginning. At Heartland Farm, visitors will find a herd of alpacas, pastures organized for rotational grazing, laying flock of chickens, vegetable gardens, a 30-foot-by-40-foot-high tunnel, a straw bale art center, outdoor pavilion and a wooded creek and pastures managed for prairie hay production.

Some of the activities available to visitors include walking the labyrinth, strolling through the wooded trails and pastures, bird watching, visiting the alpacas, getting a massage, attending a workshop and working in the art studio. Overnight rates in the guesthouse are $35 per person and $60 per couple. Children are also welcome. Daily farm tours are $3 per person. Call in advance for visits.

 

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