Henry County orchard capitalizes on interest in agritourism

Going to the apple orchard, visiting a petting zoo, picking out a pumpkin and getting lost in a corn maze – those and a lot more farm-related activities constitute what is now called agritourism.

Jacobs’ Family Orchard is one of the Indiana farms that’s capitalizing on this phenomenon. The farm (one of those featured in the member videos shown in the Farm Bureau Building during the Indiana State Fair) tries to offer a full menu of agritourism activities including all of the above activities and more.

Samantha and Stephanie Jacobs_DSC_9688Located in Henry County, the orchard is a family-owned and -operated business.  Wayne and Samantha Jacobs and their two children, Stephanie and William Jacobs, are co-owners. (Samantha and Stephanie are pictured on the right.) It was purchased by the Jacobses in 2005 as a way to diversify their farm, but its history can be traced back to just after World War I when it was started by Wat Ice on his return from the war.

Samantha estimates that 30,000-40,000 people visit the orchard each season, which starts in late August.  Securing, training, scheduling and managing seasonal help to cover their hours of operation – 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday – is a big responsibility.

When asked where she finds all the workers to cover all the shifts, Stephanie said she relies a lot on social media.

“I mainly use our Facebook page to recruit employees,” she said. “I also hire people based on recommendations and rehire former workers from previous seasons.”

Facilities and operations Improvements this season include a walk-up order window to help with the congestion inside the store.

Doughnut making_Jacobs' Family Orchard-DSC_9679The orchard is famous for its apple cinnamon doughnuts. Their popularity necessitated the purchase of a new doughnut maker that drops four doughnuts at a time and makes 110 dozen an hour.

In addition to selling cider, apples, doughnuts, apple turnovers, produce and other Indiana food products, Jacobs’ Family Orchard has a petting zoo, playground, hayride tours of the orchard, a sunflower maze, mums and pick-your-own pumpkins.

Find out more about Jacobs’ Family Orchard on its website or Facebook page.

Fall is a great season to agritour Indiana. Learn more about Indiana agritourism at visitindiana.com/agritourism.