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Agritourism in the blood

Featuring family-friendly activities, Lyon Family Farms is one of dozens of Tennessee agritourism operations offering a great time this fall
By Allison Parker 9/29/2017

 

This fall, thousands of people from southern Middle Tennessee and Alabama will visit Lyon Family Farms, operated by Richard and Shelley Lyon. Throughout October, the agritourism farm near Fayetteville offers a wide variety of family-friendly activities and school field-trip activities.
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To say that Richard Lyon has agritourism blood in his veins may be an exaggeration, but there’s no denying the Fayetteville native was born to bring families and farm fun together.

Richard grew up with his parents, Stanley and Martha Lyon, and two siblings, Roger and Debbie, on a 200-acre “choose and cut” Christmas tree farm in Lincoln County near the Alabama state line. By the age of 10, Richard was helping customers load their trees, and by 12 he was running the cash register.

When the market changed in the late 1990s, the family farm eventually shifted their emphasis to growing all commercial nursery tree stock like boxwoods, pines, evergreens, oak, maple, and cherry, as well as growing squash and pumpkins for the wholesale market.

After Richard graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2000, he returned to the farm full time.

 “My first job was delivering pumpkins to pumpkin patches,” he says. “We would arrive after they were closed and unload our pumpkins into the field. The next morning, their customers would have pumpkins again to pick.”

It was during these late-night deliveries when the wheels in Richard’s mind started turning about starting his own agritourism operation, often with girlfriend Shelley riding shotgun.

“I got to see several other pumpkin patches over time and saw how they operated,” he explains. “I already knew how to raise the pumpkins, and I knew I had a passion for ag tourism too.”

Richard and Shelley married in 2004, and within two years the young couple made their dream a reality by purchasing their own 75-acre farm. Lyon Family Farms officially opened in the fall of 2006.

“We had about 1,500 people come through that first year,” recalls Richard. “It was a failure.”

That humble beginning, however, has been followed by a decade of success. In the fall of 2016 alone, the Lyons hosted nearly 51,000 visitors, including 12,000 students.

“I tell all my employees that I want customers to say, ‘Wow, they really wanted me here’ when they leave,” says Richard. “Customer service is No. 1 to us. We want them to feel like they are a part of our family.”

The Lyons’ five children – Luke, 10, Elizabeth, 8, Georgia, 6, Tuck, 4, and Scarlett, 1 ½ – play a role in the family’s business, just like Richard did growing up.

“The younger kids start with smaller jobs like trash pickup,” says Richard. “Luke is old enough to really help out. He was out on the farm all summer. He can handle all the mowing and weed eating by himself.”

In addition to the agritourism operation, Shelley helps run a local charity called Clothe Our Kids. Richard continues to help on his parents’ 600-acre farm, where they raise about 45 acres of summer squash, 90 acres of winter squash, 200 acres of row crops, 140 acres of nursery stock, and 80 acres of pumpkins for the wholesale market.

The Lyons family are members of Lincoln Farmers Cooperative, and Richard serves as secretary for the Co-op’s board of directors.

Lyon Family Farms has tractor-pulled wagon rides, a giant bounce pillow, a farm animal petting zoo, a seven-acre interactive corn maze, and, of course, plenty of pumpkins to pick and carry home. Each pumpkin is $5 regardless of size.

“We will take you to the field, and you pick whatever pumpkin you want,” says Richard. “The catch is you have to be able to cut or pull it off the vine.”

Lyon Family Farms is located at 130 Bellview Road in Taft. The farm is open Wednesday through Friday from 2 to 7 p.m., Saturday

9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 6 p.m. through Oct. 29. Admission is $10 on weekdays, $12 on weekends, and $30 for a season pass for everyone ages 3 and up. School tours are available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday through Friday.

“We’ve tried to create an atmosphere where families can come, put away their cell phones, and just have quality time together,” says Richard. “It is wonderful to see folks spending time together and having fun.”

For more information, visit the farm’s website, www.lyonfamilyfarms.com, Facebook page, or call 931-438-9938.

Lyons Family Farms is just one of nearly 50 agritourism operations across Tennessee that offer fall activities. The following is a list of those we were aware of as of press time. Most are open through the end of October, but we suggest you call ahead or check websites or Facebook pages.



East



Adventure Ranch

7464 West Andrew Johnson

Highway, Morristown

865-282-3516

adventureranch.com



Autumn Acres

1096 Baier Road, Crossville

931-210-7655

autumnacres.net



Ballinger Farm Crazy Maze

2738 Renfro Road,

Jefferson City

865-475-7513

ballingerfarm.com



Beck Mountain Corn Maze

& Entertainment Barn

110 Corn Maze Lane,

Elizabethton

423-747-1190

beckmountaincornmaze.com



Cleek Farms

2233 Cleek Road, Kingsport

423-765-3123

cleekfarms.com



Deep Well Farm

9567 Highway 11 East,

Lenoir City

865-816-2131

deepwellfarm.com



Echo Valley Farms

915 Bethel Church Road,

Jefferson City

865-591-7343

echovalleycornmaze.com



Edwards Amazing Acres

1139 Ernest Norris Road,

Jamestown

931-260-7489

More info on Facebook



Fender’s Farm

254 Highway 107,

Jonesborough

423-753-4469

fendersmaze.com



Fruit and Berry Patch

4407 McCloud Road, Knoxville

865-922-3779

thefruitandberrypatch.com



Guthrie Farm

490 County Road 67, Riceville

423-650-2939

tnpumpkinfarm.com



Harvest Moon Pumpkin Patch

2881 Wears Valley Road,

Sevierville

865-908-8333

harvestmoonpump-

kinpatch.com



Kyker Farms

938 Alder Branch Road,

Sevierville

865-679-4848

kykerfarmscornmaze.com



Maple Lane Farms

1126 Maple Lane, Greenback

865-856-3517

tnmaplelanefarms.com



Mayfield Farm & Nursery

257 Highway 307, Athens

423-746-9859

mayfieldmaze.com



Oakes Farm

8240 Corryton Road, Corryton

865-688-6200

oakesfarm.com



Old McDonald’s Farm

16705 Coulterville Road,

Sale Creek

423-531-2676

oldmcdonaldsfarm.net



The River Maze

1371 Highway 64, Ocoee

423-650-7222

therivermaze.com



The Stickley Farm LLC

550 Beaver Creel Road,

Bluff City

423-360-4809

thestickleyfarm.com



Middle



Amazin’ Acres of Fun

2857 Old Kentucky Road, Sparta

931-761-2971

amazinacres.com



Baker Mountain Farm

351 Pioneer Lane, Spencer

931-316-9072

bakermountainfarm.com



Bottom View Farm

185 Wilkerson Lane, Portland

615-325-7017

bottomviewfarm.com



Boyd’s Pumpkin Patch

and Corn Maze

1425 Highway 76, Clarksville

931-216-8250

boydspumpkinpatch.com



Bradley Kountry Acres

& Greenhouse

650 Jake Link Road, Cottontown

615-325-2836

bradleykountryacres.com



Cedarwood Farms

2900 Old Nashville Highway, McMinnville

931-939-3960

cedarwoodfarmstn.com



Gentry’s Farm

1974 New Highway 96 West, Franklin

615-794-4368

gentryfarm.com



Grandaddy’s Farm

454 Highland Ridge Road,

Estill Springs

931-327-4080

grandaddysfarm.com



Harmony Farm

768 Hafner Road, Charlotte

615-913-7236

harmonyfarmtn.com



Holiday Acres Farm

346 Campbellsville Highway, Ethridge

931-829-2660

holidayacresfarm.com



Honeysuckle Hill Farm

1765 Martins Chapel Church Road, Springfield

615-382-7593

honeysucklehillfarm.com



Keller’s Corny Country

542 Fire Tower Road, Dickson

615-441-4872

kellerscornycountry.com





Limoland

8076 Columbia Highway,

Pulaski

931-363-5744

limolandfarm.com



Lucky Ladd Farms

4374 Rocky Glade Road,

Eagleville

615-274-3786

luckyladdfarms.com



Lyon Family Farms

130 Bellview Road, Taft

931-438-9938

lyonfamilyfarms.com



Pumpkin Hill

861 Benders Ferry Road,

Mt. Juliet

615-758-5364

pumpkinhilltn.com



Ring Farm

2628 Greens Mill Road,

Columbia

931-486-2395

ringfarm.com



Shuckles Corn Maze at Fiddle Dee Farms

7526 Swift Road, Greenbrier

615-669-6293

fiddledeefarm.com



Walden Pumpkin Farm

8653 Rocky Fork Road, Smyrna

615-220-2918

waldenfarm.biz



West



Donnell Century Farm

Adventure

3720 Highway 70 East, Jackson

731-424-4526

donnellcenturyfarm.com



Falcon Ridge Farm

22630 Highway 18 North, Toone

731-658-5200

farmatfalconridge.com



Freshwater Ranch & Cornmaze

300 BlueBird Lane, Huron

731-968-0203



Holt Family Farms

461 Jewell Store Road, Dresden

731-364-3459

holtfamilyfarms.com



Jones Corn Maze & Market

6850 Singleton Parkway,

Millington

901-873-3150

jonesorchard.com



Mid-South Maze at

Agricenter International

7777 Walnut Grove Road,

Memphis

901-870-6338

midsouthmaze.com



Rushing Pumpkin Patch

6105 Roby Road, Enville

731-549-6053

More info on Facebook



Shirley Farm’s Pumpkin Barn

2557 South Bluff Road, Obion

731-264-5316



Todd Family Fun Farm

101 Tom Austin Road, Dyer

731-643-6720

toddfamilyfunfarm.com



Tom’s Farm

1665 Murrell Road, Rossville

901-853-0997

tomsfarm.org



Wallace Farms

1140 Douglas Road, Lexington

731-614-8625

More info on Facebook

 
 
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