Karen Doyle, York County
Tell us about your farm:
We have a pick-your-own farm and agritainment business. We have 50 acres of Christmas trees, with about 50,000 trees in various stages of development. We have a roadside stand that we open in July with sweet corn and we have gardens for vegetables. I have a pick-your-own flower garden. In early September we have pick-your-own apples with a seven-acre high density orchard. All of our trees are semi-dwarf and very easy for people to pick. At the end of September we do pick-your-own pumpkins and pick-your-own popcorn. It’s neat because a lot of people don’t know that popcorn grows like regular corn. Then we move on to a pick-and-cut Christmas trees.
A lot of your business involves interacting with the public. What do you like about it?
I love to have people come out to the farm and experience what it’s like being on a farm. It’s not your traditional farm, but it is a place where they can walk about and enjoy the scenery. Kids can play in corn and walk on hay bales. We have a corn maze that involves a mystery game. The kids absolutely love it. We have a nice set up for children. We want families to come out, have a good time and at an affordable price. And at Christmas time, there is nothing like hearing families laughing as they pick out their Christmas tree.
What do you think is the appeal of choose-and-cut Christmas trees?
It is a tradition with a lot of families. Harvesting the centerpiece of their Christmas is a big deal and it brings out the whole family. Folks also like to know they get a fresh tree that they cut down themselves. They know it wasn’t shipped in from out of state.
Why is it important for farmers to get involved in agriculture promotion?
More and more people are getting away from the farm and they don’t understand a lot of things about farming. It is so important to reach out to the younger generation and help them identity what happens on a farm. Getting them out to the farm is one thing, but we have to bring the farm to the school. Farm Bureau is doing a good job with the Mobile Ag Ed Science Lab program and Ag on the Go. We are all so busy and the only times we are not busy is when things are not growing. But it’s important to find time. Locally, we are reaching out through social media to see what questions people may have about farming.
Why did you get involved on the York County Farm Bureau board of directors?
I thought this might be a good way to give back to the county. This farm has been in my family since 1810. It is very near and dear to me. I want to continue it and see it flourish so it’s important for me to understand legislation that could impact our farm.
Are you optimistic about the future of agriculture?
I’m very optimistic. I think that technology is going to help us greatly. Farms are getting bigger and we are seeing farmers in this area working vast amounts of land. I always see farming as being one of the larger businesses in the United States. Farming operations are becoming more like a business and farmers are becoming more business savvy.
Lastly, why are you a Farm Bureau member?
There are lots of great benefits, like payroll services and insurance. Plus I’m meeting a lot of other people and learning from them. Farm Bureau is a great group of people to be around.