Kansas has always been an agriculture state. Group tours are able to connect with the people who produce food at these farm-related stops.
Junction City, in the heart of the Flint Hills, is the home of Hildebrand Farms Dairy. In the 1920s Rose and Arnold Hildebrand moved from Switzerland to Missouri and then to Kansas. The small hobby farm they established grew over the years into a vast dairy operation. An on-site bottling plant was added in 2008. The dairy currently sells seven varieties of milk in more than 120 stores throughout Kansas.
Tours are by appointment only, and the farm must have at least one week’s notice.
“Some of our best memories of our tours include watching a kid’s eyes light up when they see a baby calf for the first time, or the smiles after the first lick of a delicious ice cream cone,” said Melissa Reed, operations manager. “Our tours take visitors on a walk through our free-stall barn, calf barn, milking facilities and processing plant. We love sharing the entire story of how our glass bottled milk goes from cow to store in the matter of hours. Our farm store is open Tuesday through Saturday and if you can’t get scheduled for a tour, we would love to have you stop by for ice cream and take a peek at the calves.”
Elderslie Farm in Kechi began in 2010 when George Elder and his sister Alexis planted blackberries near their childhood home. The big and juicy blackberries are a summer highlight, but Elderslie also offers farm-to-table dinners, fine dining, a creamery, and cheese and wine tastings. The creamery makes farmstead goat milk cheeses with milk from the Nubian and Saanen goats raised on the farm. Cheese is also made from the milk of Ayrshire cows raised by Heather Faye of Faye Farms in Udall. Elderslie Restaurant, a root-to-leaf restaurant, offers food grown by local growers and producers. Dining rooms can be reserved for private parties of up to 32 people.
Peterson Farm Brothers near Assaria offer tours throughout the year. The tour includes visiting farmsteads, spending time with the three Peterson brothers and seeing their crops and animals. Tour last about 60 minutes.
Group tours are available at the family operated Plumlee Buffalo Ranch near Alma in the Flint Hills. Reservations are a must. A tour provides many opportunities for close-up pictures of the herd.
Hillside Honey Apiary in Easton sells local raw unfiltered honey, infused and creamed honey, and an array of natural care products. Beekeeping tours have been on hold, but the apiary hopes to restart tours in the spring of 2022.
Lavender farm visits and tours are especially popular in June when lavender is in bloom.
Kansas Tourism has more travel ideas for groups wanting to immerse in the state’s varied agriculture.