Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour: October 5&6, 2013

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Published: 09/29/2013

A free, self-guided event much like the PWC Farm Tour.  Check it out online and find a list of farms and locations you can choose from. 

Great Country Farms Cider Festival September 14&15, 2013

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Published: 09/07/2013

Celebrate the Apple Harvest & Tractor Corn Maize Grand Opening!


Bluemont, VA – Enjoy the early fall harvest at Great Country Farms Cider Festival September 14 & 15.  Apples are available for U-Pick and the whole family can enjoy tastings of fresh pressed cider and sparkling cider blends including peach, cherry and raspberry with bottles available to take home for the holidays. Adults can purchase samples of locally made apple wine from Corcoran Vineyards, hard cider and more! All ages can explore the Tractor themed Corn Maize which is sized to be especially inviting to younger children. The weekend includes live music, arts, crafts, and clown entertainment from noon – 3pm both days.

The whole family can appreciate the hard work involved with farming the old fashioned way when they take a turn cranking the wheel on the Farm’s antique cider press! The Farm is celebrating its 20th Year anniversary with extra special events to be announced throughout the autumn season. Pre-picked produce is available in the Farm Market and homemade Cider donuts, Kettle Korn, along with apple dumplings, apple pie and other seasonal treats are served in the Roosteraunt.

Cider Festival details:
September 14 & 15 from 9am-6pm
$10/child & $12/adult admission includes cider tastings from 11am – 3pm
Farm Members, Military ID holders and kids 2 and under are FREE
Contact Jaclyn Jenkins jaclyn@greatcountryfarms.com 540-554-2073 GreatCountryFarms.com

The Big Dig: Great Country Farms

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Published: 08/22/2013


Come with an empty stomach to The Big Dig on Saturday, August 31st & Sunday, Sept 1st at Great Country Farms.  Celebrate the end of summer with pancakes, potatoes, trucks and tractors as the Farm hands get into the dirt. The taste and texture of fresh potatoes is completely different from typical grocery store products that are often a year old. Kids can experience first-hand how to search for spuds by digging in our potato fields. If the weather permits, Farmer Mark’s tractor will rip a row and turn over fresh taters for easier picking. The Farm Market carries pre-picked farm produce including tomatoes, fruits, and other veggies along with locally produced meat and dairy products.

The day starts with pancakes hot off the griddle piled high and topped with delicious fruit syrups, juice and coffee. The All-You-Can Eat Pancake Breakfast runs till 11:30am and is included with admission.  The hayride will take you to the fields so you can dig potatoes and visit other U-Pick areas. The Farm posts updates of produce availability on its social media pages as weather conditions affect each crop differently.

Kids can romp all over the five acre playground and visit with the friendly farm animals or do some catch & release fishing. Picnic around our featured tractors and antique truck and take behind the wheel photos of all the family members. Leashed dogs are welcome and can run free in our off leash areas. The Roosteraunt is open from 9am-4pm.


The Big Dig event details:
$10/child & $12/adult includes Pancake Breakfast until 11:30am
Saturday, Aug 31st and Sunday, Sept. 1st 9am-6pm
Contact Jaclyn Jenkins jaclyn@greatcountryfarms.com 540-554-2073 GreatCountryFarms.com     


Business Review: Ticonderoga Farms

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Published: 08/20/2013
Most of the "fun farms" in Northern Virginia are in Loudon County and they take some time for me to get to from my side of Prince William.  However, while Ticonderoga Farms' address may be Chantilly, and while my friend from  Aldie told me it was "just a few minutes from her" (I consider Aldie to be the dark side of the moon from where we live!) it's actually just about 5 minutes from Manassas Battlefield, which is awesome!  Here's how that works:
Where A= Manassas Battlefield Park, B= Ticonderoga Farms and C=Aldie, VA

That's about the extent of the math you're gonna find here on PwcMoms.  It's not even that math-y, but I used equals signs, so we're gonna count it. 

I found Ticonderoga Farms to be really enjoyable.  I liked that it's shaded, I liked that it's not as crowded as some of the more well-known farms, and I think that it had a lot of good options for playing, especially for younger kids in the age Preschool-Grade 1 age range.  Let's take a photo tour, shall we?




There's a pond with a wiggly bridge over the top, which my boys loved.  If you stop in the middle and look hard into the water, there are little teeny tiny sunfish! This was, apparently, a HUGE deal. We looked at the tiny fish for a good five minutes.

 There are a few cutouts for you to take your picture on, and they were in the process of "Fall-ing" up the hayride space so it'd be ready for pumpkin season and Halloween.  I think the hayride will be very fun for those visiting in the fall.




There are a few antique firetrucks for kids to climb all over, and my daughter thought this was probably the most fun she'd ever had.  Watch for any nuts or bolts, but older kids will enjoy climbing up on top and younger kids will like "driving" the truck for a minute.

 Swings! And Trees! And Chickens running around!
One of the play structures- note that there's shade involved.  We also ate lunch on one of the picnic tables in the shade.  For my kids, this doesn't matter as much, but for me, who gets a sunburn on a cloudy day wearing SPF 80, it's a big deal :)  It looked like there was a snack bar that's probably open during festival weekends, but we packed our lunch and enjoyed a picnic.
 There are, of course, the requisite slides on a hill and there's a giant inflated pillow, for lack of a better word, that the kids can bounce around on.  Your socks will get dirty, but if it's too warm out and you go without them, the plastic can be a little warm on tiny toes, so I'd bring an old pair of socks, even if your kids are rocking the crocks.
 You know, as much as anyone can "rock" crocks.

We had a fun time and spent over three hours playing outside.  This is much more "farmy" than some of the farms you might think of, but we liked that, because it wasn't as crowded.  I think my oldest son might be getting slightly too old for places like this to be "cool" for him, but he did play nicely with his siblings, and he had fun looking at the fish and jumping on the pillow.

One note- there is a bamboo maze that is a serious maze.  I think my boys would've spent hours in there, but if you're going with young children, note that this isn't like a corn maze where you wander in one direction and come out, it's a real maze with multiple twists and turns.  I can see that being an issue if you've got a child who's potty training ;)

Here's what some of my readers had to say about Ticonderoga Farms:
we LOVE going there! so much fun!

Go there for Easter egg hunts during spring. I like that its not as crazy as Cox Farms and family owned.

 Also been to cut our own Christmas tree couple years ago. Plan on taking baby soon at the end of 

August & we always bring smore's fixings to make smores there.

We love it there!!! Love!!!! We can spend a whole day there.

We go every week because its where i pick up my CSA my daughter loves it there!!



 Ticonderoga Farms offers:
* Summer Harvest Festival, Spring Easter Festival, Fall Pumpkin Festival, and a Winter Festival
* A community garden for those who'd like to grow their own produce but don't have space
* A Farm Market  including organic eggs, local honey, produce, figs, and bamboo
* Fig groves and a fig festival
And more.  The farm is also working on a botanic garden, which, from what we could see from the road, looks amazing!

Admission depends on the time of year, but for summer is $8.95/person, and hours are 10am-5pm, all week long.  Field trips, group rates, and corporate/family parties are available.


Disclaimer: PwcMoms was provided with free admission in return for providing a review.  All opinions are our own. All information is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publishing, but events/dates/times/offerings may change over time. Please see Ticonderoga Farms website for updated information and offerings. 

Giveaway: Butterfly Harvest at Great Country Farms

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Published: 07/10/2013

Hearts are aflutter to save the Monarch Butterflies!
 “Bring back the Monarch and keep the magic alive”
encourages Nicole Hamilton of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy.
It’s the season for the mighty migration of the Monarch Butterflies and Great Country Farms wants to make a difference.  Together with local Girl Scouts, they plan to design and build a Monarch butterfly garden & educate others on how they can help.  Join us Saturday, July 20th to be a part of it. 
The Monarch Butterfly population is waning and they need your HELP!  But why are Monarch butterflies important to the environment?  Monarch butterflies are pollinators.  During the Monarchs huge migration, they pass over areas where pollination is a problem.  So Monarchs can help pollinate plant life in suffering areas.
How can you help?  GCF will plant milkweed which provides Monarchs with a safe environment to harvest their eggs.   “We are investing in Monarch Butterflies.  Our vision is to establish an extensive monarch breeding population at GCF with the help of the scouts and others,” says Jaclyn Jenkins GCF’s Director of OperationsGirl Scouts can participate in helping us design Great Country Farms Scout Butterfly Patch and are welcomed back in the fall to release their butterflies.
While at Great Country Farms, join in family friendly fun on the farm!  Kids will love the 5 acre playground and visiting with the friendly farm animals. The Roosteraunt is open for lunch the Farm Market features fresh produce and other local products. The Farm’s U-Pick season is in full swing so be sure to visit the website to see what is ripe & ready to take home for a fresh summer time meal.

Saturday, July 20th, 2013
Open 9am-6pm
Girl Scouts- $8/scout & chaperones. Leaders FREE! Please make group reservations by calling 540-554-2073.
General Public $8/Child $10/Adult at the gate + 2 FREE Passes to come back in Sept. for those who have butterflies to release!
Children 2 and under and guests with a Military ID are no charge.

Want to go for free? Enter our giveaway for tickets! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Great Country Farms provided this content and the passes we're giving away.  They also provided passes for my family to use. PwcMoms is not responsible for weather, farm conditions, or your mental health if your children sing "Old MacDonald" all the way home from the farm.  Winner assumes any liability and risk.  

U-Pick Strawberry Festival Northern Virginia

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Published: 05/20/2013
Biggest U-Pick Strawberry Festival in Northern VA 5/25 & 26
Bluemont, VA - Come celebrate the event that launched Great Country Farms 20 years ago. The Strawberry Jubilee May 25th & 26th promises to be a bumper harvest due to the favorable spring weather. The weekend is packed with stupendous fun including live music, food contests (pie-eating and tart tossing), and delectable strawberries. GCF recommends that serious pickers arrive early as this vine ripened fruit is a favorite of many. The farm has moved with the times and now posts regular updates on their social media about produce conditions. Founder Farmer Bob Zurschmeide recalls “Back in 1993, we invited folks to help themselves in our strawberry fields never expecting to begin an annual event. We just wanted everyone to taste a perfect, ripe strawberry for themselves.” The traditional Diaper Derby invites the youngest visitors to join the fun by crawling across a finish line for prizes of fresh fruit or toys. The Royal Strawberry princess makes her annual appearance for pictures and strawberry stories.
 

 
Great Country Farms is also celebrating 20 years of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSA members are always welcomed free of charge to all of the farm’s renowned weekend events and receive special discounts on U-Pick produce and items in the Farm Market. There is a $100.00 per share discount when 2 or more shares are delivered to one location. These sites can be private or open to the public for doctor's offices, heath care facilities, gyms, etc. to expand foot traffic and offer a great benefit to your employees and customers. Members receive a weekly newsletter with chef created recipes tailored to the harvest cycles. There are a few shares left available for purchase by Friday, May 24 at 12:00pm or you can sign up when you arrive. CSA members are welcomed all season to enjoy the farm, take hayrides, and romp on the five acre playground featuring the Giant Jumping Pillow, pedal carts, rope swings, picnic areas, and more. Four legged family members can run free in the off leash dog zones.
 
Event Details:
Strawberry Jubilee May 25 & 26, 2013
Open 9am-6pm $10/child & $12/adult/Under 2 and military with ID FREE
18780 Foggy Bottom Road Bluemont, Virginia 20135

via press release

Review: Great Country Farms

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Published: 10/19/2012
So, listen.  I tell you guys pretty much everything when it comes to fun stuff to do with your kids.  I'm going to tell you about Great Country Farms because I told them I would and they gave me giveaway tickets.

But I don't want to, because I want it to be all mine.

I have never left a pumpkin patch/farm feeling peaceful and relaxed. In fact, I usually leave mumbling to myself "one...two...three...one...two..three" from hours of compulsively counting my children because I'm sure they're going to get lost in the throngs of people.  When we went to Great Country Farms this week, I didn't have that feeling at all.  Peaceful, open, and very "farm" (as opposed to being very "attraction") we went on a Tuesday and were among a handful of people.  That morning there'd been a few schools and groups that came through, but by lunchtime when we arrived, most of them were leaving and we had the run of the farm with just a few other families. 
 It's really hard for me to tell you about their hayride without comparing it to the hayride we go on every year...so I'm not going to try.  There's no hay on this hayride, and there's benches to sit on! Benches! No hay fever and no legs falling asleep!  This is strictly a hayride, though, around the farm to the field, so don't expect a show, although the landscape is gorgeous!
 The hayride ends at the pumpkin patch, which includes lots of different varieties from the traditional orange jack-o-lantern to the decorative white and green varieties. The pumpkins are already cut off the vine (I actually think they just scatter them around the corn field) and are sold by the pound.
 There are also tons of animals around the farm.  Cups of feed are $2 and we fed pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, peacocks, horses, cows, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, goats, and probably some other things I'm forgetting.  You can also do "catch and release fishing" in their pond.  Bring a rod. Putt Putt Golf is available for $1 per ball, which is refunded when you bring your ball back.
 Awww, they're being cute :) This is the entrance to pedal go-karts, which are really fun, but hard for smaller legs to propel.  I liked that everything was interactive and kid-powered.
 This is a giant pillow.  You bounce and run all over it until someone gets tired and/or runs into someone else.  It's tremendously fun, and I think that my kids did it for a full hour.
 Isn't this fantastically beautiful? These stairs lead up to a pipe slide down a hill.  The whole farm is very picturesque.
This is a giant play area full of corn kernels.  Your kids will come out covered in cornstarch, but very happy.  We spent several hours on the farm and enjoyed some hot cider on our way out.  They also sell cold cider, local sodas, and ice cream in their store.  

In addition to everything mentioned here, there are tons and tons of play structures, a cow train ($2) and the farm also hosts a CSA, or community supported agriculture program. We really enjoyed this farm, and I would definitely go again. It's a bit of a drive, about an hour and a half from Woodbridge, but you could easily spend an entire day there.  While the farm is open for fall and features pumpkins and a corn maze, they're also open year round and have fun events for each season. Admission is $10 per child and $12 per adult.  There's a restaurant that's open on weekends, or ample picnic table space for those who want to pack.  This is definitely a "highly recommend" in my book- even if it's not in Prince William County!

Want to enjoy your own idyllic day at Great Country Farms? Enter by leaving a comment on this post! Don't forget to include your email address so I can get in touch with you! This contest closes on Monday, October 22, 2012. Good luck! 

PS- Great County Farms provided our family with comp tickets to come and review their farm.  All opinions are my own, and we really did have a fantastic time.  Just ask my husband who slept in an adirondack chair all afternoon. 

Guest Post: Belvedere Plantation

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Published: 10/16/2012
Special thanks to our guest poster, who emailed me asking about Belvedere and agreed to go write about it when I didn't have a review! If you like to write and visit new classes, places, or playgrounds, I'd love to publish your work, too! 


Sunday, October, 14 we spent the most beautiful fall day at Belvedere Plantation!!

We arrived soon after opening, which I highly recommend! By the time we left in the afternoon it was quite crowded. While in line to pick up tickets, we were greeted by the Pumpkin Princess dressed in a beautiful orange gown greeting the children with a bucket of candy! I am not quite sure if it was the candy, or the princess, but my 2 ½ year old was instantly in love! She wanted to follow the Princess all around the plantation the rest of the day!
There were a few things that greatly impressed me about Belvedere Plantation. The first  was they had REAL bathrooms, and many of them! They also had a baby changing station/family bathroom. This was amazing since we are right in the middle of potty training and the idea of trying to get my little one to go into a porta-potty gives me nightmares!  They also had lots of benches and places to sit. If you have older grandparents with you, this is a huge plus.

Another thing that really impressed me was the way they handled the jumping pillow. At other farms we have visited, they were a free for all with a mix of big kids and little kids. At Belvedere, they have someone working at the jumping pillow timing the jumping times. He gave 2 minutes for each group- little kids, then big kids. It was awesome because it gave each group an opportunity to jump with children their own size. They could come back an unlimited amount of times.

The other activities in the same area as the jumping pillow were the pedal cars, pony rides, and the fun barn. These are geared more towards the 4 year old and up crowd. There were not very long lines for any of them. The Fun Barn is also in this area. It is filled with a foot or two of loosely packed hay with ropes for the kids to swing on.
They have activity tents with face painting and pumpkin painting. The face painting was free, but the pumpkin painting was an extra charge. There are a few activities spread out that are an extra charge if you only purchase the Cackling Farm Pass. If you plan to do the flower cutting, pumpkin painting, or want to fire pumpkins from a cannon, the better value is the Crowing Farm Pass.  We decided next time that we would get the extra pass for our daughter, but not for us since she would be the one doing the activities.

One of the highlights of the day was the Pig Race in the Swine Speedway at 12:30. It was very exciting for all of the children. Farmer Ian was the MC of the race and gave out prizes and also let the children participate by holding up flags representing their team’s pig. There is an area for the kids to pet goats and sheep as well as see turkeys, chickens, and pigs. The one thing they didn’t have that my daughter asked about was cows.
The area we enjoyed, having one under 3, was the Little Farmers Corral. There were lots of fun swings and areas for the little ones to play. The zip lines are also there. They had regular zip lines for the children to hold on, but they also had zip lines for the little ones with seats. It’s a little close to the Pumpkin Cannon, so be aware if you have a child that gets spooked by loud noises, it can be loud over there.

We ended our day with a hayride to the pumpkin patch.  We didn’t have to wait at all to get on and as soon as we had picked a pumpkin they were there to pick us up. They are well prepared for big crowds.
Overall, we had an amazing day!! Thanks to PWC Moms and Belvedere Plantation for giving us an opportunity to go!  More information on hours, coupons, and ticket information can be found at http://www.belvedereplantation.com  Don’t forget to enter the photo contest after your visit!!




Beth Heim is a mom to two kids. When she's not at the pumpkin patch, you can find her spending time with her family, taking photographs, and working as a teacher PWC schools.

Stribling and Hartland Orchards

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Published: 09/17/2012
Markham, VA is about 15 minutes from the Prince William County/Fauquier line, and it's the location of two fruit orchards.  In the past, we've always gotten off 66 at the Markham exit and turned right to go to Hartland Orchard, which we love for apples and peaches, especially.  However, this fall we got to check out Stribling, too!

STRIBLING ORCHARD:
StriblingOrchard.com
Last Friday, though, our friends invited us to break with tradition and hang a left over to Stribling Orchard.  This involved a fun hairpin turn and some railroad tracks, which my kids thought were fantastic.  Hooray for adventures.  Stribling Orchard is a lovely location with a long gravel driveway up to some very historic looking buildings on the left side.  A friend who came with us said that you can arrange an educational tour and they take you around the property.  Incidentally, we saw Christ Chapel Academy (also from Woodbridge!) there enjoying a tour!

Like every orchard we've ever been to, you have the option to drive your car right up into the fields to pick your fruit, or you can park by the checkout area (in this case, an actual storefront) and hoof it on up.  There are also lovely picnic areas around the property for those who would like to pack a lunch.  I typically wait until October to go apple picking, since some of my favorite varieties aren't ready until later in the season, including Granny Smiths, which I use for my Thanksgiving pies.  Yum! However, even in September you can get some delicious eating apples (especially if you're a fan of the red varieties).
Picking baskets are located on the side of the main building near the bathrooms and are a big help for shorter pickers!! 
The staff was friendly and helpful, and gave out maps.  The trees here are a little more mixed than at most locations we've picked fruit at, but the trunks are typically marked with spray paint to indicate the variety, and using the guide on your map you can determine what looks good for eating.  Stribling was lovely, and I love that they offer tours, but the prices were much higher than we were used to, and the apples were coated with white film from the pesticide.  (I know we're not paying for organic, but I still don't want to see whitish apples!) However, I know many people love this orchard and go every year! $25 a half bushel is steep for me, because with 3 kids picking, we usually leave with APPLES! Typically we pick a bushel and a half when we go, although this particular day we only did one half-bushel because $75 of apples isn't happening! I did appreciate that Stribling takes Visa/Mastercard/Discover because most orchards take only cash or checks, and it's nice to not have to remember to stop at the ATM! Local cider and honey are available, too.

HARTLAND ORCHARD:
Hartland Orchard is our go-to pick your own place.  In the fall, they also have a corn maze, pumpkin fairy, pumpkin chunking and more.  I didn't realize it before visiting another orchard, but at $12 a half bushel, I love them for their prices.  A lot.  Our typical bushel and a half of apples here is $36.  Whoohoo!
The pumpkin fairy, from HartlandOrchard.com.  The pumpkin fairy is available to visit most weekends, and Hartland is great about answering their phones if you want to call and check before leaving. 
 Hartland's fields are generally organized by variety, although you'll find the occasional random yellow tree in the midst of the reds.  Our fruit has always been delicious, including the Granny Smiths, which are sweet and tart at the same time and make excellent pies.  Last year was the only year we ever had an issue, and it wasn't really their fault- it was the Stink Bugs!! Those little suckers LOVE apples and were all over the place boring holes into the fruit and flying kamikaze-style at your face!  However, the population is much more under control this year and while you may see a few bugs, it's not like the 9th plague or anything :)

This is the same little guy working the apple-picker in the Stribling pictures his first time picking apples at Hartland.  He was 18 months old and had a grand old time on daddy's shoulders. 
The only problem with apple picking (especially at $12/half bushel) is what to do with all those apples!! We peel, slice, and freeze a lot of ours to use in crisps or pies all winter (pre-measure into Ziplock bags for your favorite recipes!), and we also make applesauce (mix up a bunch of varieties in the crock pot with 1/2 cup of OJ or Apple Juice/Cider, a cinnamon stick, and sweetener of choice if your want it on low until everything is soft and delicious!) Another favorite in our family is chicken salad with red and green apples, pecans, celery, onions, craisins, and raisins.  Yummy!
No matter where you decide to go pick apples (and you should go- it's fun!) be sure to:
1) Bring bug spray/sunscreen
2) Be prepared to drive into the orchard- pick a car that can handle mud/rocks/gravel.  If your car can't, then park and walk
3) Grab a map, an apple picker, and visit the bathrooms BEFORE you head to the fields
4) Pack a picnic and make a day of it!

Do you have a favorite apple orchard to use? Perhaps a favorite apple recipe? Share in a comment below!



These reviews were unsolicited and represent the views of PwcMoms.com only.






Saturdays in the Garden with PWCMG's

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Published: 06/06/2012
The Master Gardeners of Prince William County offer "Saturdays in the Garden" each week in Bristow.  Held at St. Benedict Monastery (9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow VA 20136), each program is held from 9am-12pm and features concurrent adult and children's programming, however, children's programs are not drop-off, so plan to bring your gardening gloves, too!  


Taken from the PWCMG Facebook Page
 
Satuday in the Garden
WhenSat, June 9, 9am – 12pm
WhereSt. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow 20136
DescriptionAttracting Beneficial Insects & Creating Interest During Four Seasons in the Garden. Children’s Program: Bee-Friend a Bug! 
 
Saturday in the Garden
WhenSat, July 14, 9am – 12pm
WhereSt. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow 20136
DescriptionWhat’s Buggin’ My Plant & Composting Inside and Out. Children’s Program: Eat Your Garden! 
 
Saturday in the Garden
WhenSat, August 11, 9am – 12pm
WhereSt. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow 20136
DescriptionThe Good, the Bad, the Tasty & Fall Vegetable Gardening & Extending the Season. Children's Program: Weave It To Me! Weave some grasses! 
 
Saturday in the Garden
WhenSat, September 8, 9am – 12pm
WhereSt. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow 20136
DescriptionMaster Gardener Plant Sale! Go Native! Beauty & Benefits of Native Plants & Pocket Meadow: A Lawn Alternative. Children’s Program: Plant Your Pockets! Native flower gardening for kids. 
 
Saturday in the Garden
WhenSat, October 13, 2012, 9am – 12pm
WhereSt. Benedict Monastery, 9535 Linton Hall Road, Bristow 20136
DescriptionGrow Your Own Winter Salad! & Preparing Your Landscape for Winter. Children’s Program: Garden Monster Mash! Make some applesauce
 
 
 
 

Guest Post: Animal Shelter Children's Farm

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Published: 05/18/2012

Thanks to Sharon for the info on the Prince William County Animal Shelter Children's Farm!

My kids are crazy about animals.  We are always looking for something to do that involves our four-legged friends.  Today we ventured out to the Prince William County Animal ShelterChildren’s Farm.  If you are interested in taking your wee ones to this free exhibit, here are a few things you should know before you go.

First of all, it’s free.  Pretty cool, right?  The only requisite is that you call beforehand to make sure there is someone available to let you in.  Even though the website says they are only open on Thursdays, they will accommodate visitors provided they are adequately staffed.  The staff also recommends that you use discretion if it is raining.  This is a real barnyard with real dirt and your children can get really dirty if it is wet.  Heads up.

We arrived to the Animal Shelter parking lot and walked through the main entrance into the shelter building.  We asked at the main desk if we could be escorted back to the Children’s Farm and we were soon paired with a kind, young employee who walked us to the back and unlocked the gates.  As soon as the gates were unlocked, the fun began.  Two very friendly, very zealous potbelly pigs greeted us immediately: one named Chunk and the other Tootsie. We took a chance and brought a big bag of carrots in case they would let us feed the animals, and as it turns out, visitors are welcome to feed carrots and apples.  And, WOW, were we popular!  My children were able to feed carrots to the pigs, the white pony, all of the goats and the cow in the yard.  The animals were clean and well-groomed.  They appeared happy and well taken care of.

Our visit concluded when all of the carrots were eaten (a few may have been consumed by the humans in our group…) and the children had laughed themselves silly at all of the animal antics in the barnyard.  We stayed for about 20 minutes.

Bottom Line: Call ahead, dress for mud, bring treats, and have fun.

Address and Phone Number:
14807 Bristow Road
Manassas, VA 20112
Phone: 703-792-6465

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday: 11:00am-5:00pm
Wednesday: 11:00am-5:00pm
Thursday: 11:00am-5:00pm
Friday: 11:00am-5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am-4:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm-4:00pm
Monday: Closed

Sharon Kieffer Steele is a homeschooling mother of 5 who resides in Prince William County.  She is a freelance writer who occasionally blogs atsharonksteele.blogspot.com