If you’re reading this, chances are that you are at least somewhat familiar with the Miami County Farm Tour! Whether you learned about it through our social media, brochures we handed out at our summer markets, or even word of mouth, you know Madd House Hill has been participating in both the spring and fall tours for the last several years!
If you are new here, here’s the short story: twice a year, Miami County hosts a “Farm Tour” weekend, where local farms of all types open their gates to the public and host guests for a weekend of agritourism, local shopping, and lots of fun! We have been participating in the farm tour for the last four years. In the early years of our business, we were hosted by our friends and neighbors who were also on the tour, and MHH had a table at their farm. Then, two years ago, we took on our own stop along the tour, so we could share our goat herd and loofah garden with the world! This has made farm tour weekend so much fun, but also pretty hectic! Even if you haven’t had a chance to visit us during the peak of farm tour weekend (our yard and driveway are packed!), you can probably appreciate the amount of planning and preparation required to host 1500+ visitors to your farm in the span of two days! Many of you who visited asked us about this process, from setting up The Hill for guests to restocking products at the end of the day. So, we
wanted to give you a glimpse “behind the scenes” of our recently concluded farm tour weekend, and show you what happens before, during, and at the conclusion of each day that makes this weekend a huge hit with our visitors each year!
1 Week Out
While there is some farm tour work that is done over the summer, like marketing the event and handing out brochures at our summer markets, the real work starts approximately a week or so before the event. At this point, we have identified what special food products we will have available (like our flavored chèvre goat cheese!) and are working to make these
products! This requires many hours of production – from making the cheese, to packaging, to labeling. The same goes for our lotions, lotion sticks, and lip balms. While our soap is created far in advance due to its 8+ week curing time, other products still need to be created to insure we have enough inventory for a busy weekend! This takes up quite a bit of the earlier days in the week leading up to farm tour, but by the time we are finished, we have a healthy stock of new, freshly labeled products ready to head to their new homes.
(Check out our new seasonal soap, "Chill Out", being packaged here!)
Three Days Out
Three days in advance, our focus shifts outdoors and making our farm look its best for visitors! This means lots and lots of mowing! Our lawn and pastures tend to grow like crazy in the cooler weather with even the smallest amount of rain, so everything needed a little TLC after a few days of rain earlier in the week. This is where having three sons comes in handy…they all pitched in to ensure all the grass was mowed, string trimmed, and weeded. They also set up our picnic area! We have started doing this the last few tours, and it has been a huge hit with guests. Nothing is more peaceful than sharing lunch or a treat of cheesecake next to our pond!
In the kitchen, we start to make some final preparations for our food products, like packing samples of our goat cheese cheesecake! This is somewhat of a tedious task, so whoever is free pitches in to slice, cube, package, and freeze our samples. Fun fact: we handed out over 600 cheesecake samples during the weekend!
Picnic tables waiting to be filled, and farmer guy hard at work preparing the loofah garden!
1 Day Out
This is where the fun really begins. The day before farm tour, my in-laws arrive to visit and help for the weekend! Final preparations are being made outdoors, like readying our tents and tables for the following morning, and inside, we are preparing inventory and our product displays to be set up outside. Our “Tiny Store”, which is usually open during our open farm events, is a little too tiny to handle farm tour crowds, so we use it to store excess inventory during the weekend. The remaining day is spent making last minute adjustments and wrapping up any loose ends. Oh, and meal prepping some on-the-go meals for our hard-working Assoapiates for the coming days! This year our menu was cold cut sandwiches on Saturday, and walking tacos on Sunday 😊
The Big Weekend
Just like that, farm tour is here! We were thrilled to host over 1300 visitors over the two days, and as you can see from the pictures below, a good time was had by all! Goats were loved on, cheesecake was shared, and we were able to meet with so many old and new friends. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather on both days (something that doesn’t always happen!) and then sunshine made a beautiful backdrop for a fun weekend.
In between Saturday and Sunday, we do some quick tasks to restock as needed, including making more cheesecake samples. But for the most part, once the weekend is here, we soak up the moment and focus on our guests. The weekend typically flies by and before we know it, Sunday is wrapping up.
4:00pm on Sunday
We always joke that the preparation for the next farm tour begins as soon as the previous one concludes, when we debrief and develop ideas for next time. So, as we pack up our outdoor store and put the goats up for the night, we are busy running over what went well and what didn’t. There are some big wins, like what a hit the cheesecake samples were, and some areas we want to improve upon for next year – like stocking more goat cheese scones so we don’t run out the first day! Either way, we are happy to have wrapped up another successful weekend, and already looking forward to the next one in May.
Madd House Hill