What was once the last remaining dairy farm in Columbia County, Steed’s Dairy transitioned towards agritourism back in 2010, and is now one of the largest operations in northeast Georgia.
“I used to get in trouble with my daddy when I’d invite classes out to the farm when we had the dairy because we had to hold some cows back, which he didn’t like doing. But it’s something that I’ve always kind of wanted to do, not on this scale. I never dreamed it would get this big,” says Jim Steed.
Big might be an understatement as this farm plays host to more than fourteen thousand students every year, providing them with a unique look at the rural lifestyle.
“A lot of kids had an uncle or somebody that had a farm and people would go and visit. Now days that’s not true. So, a lot of people have never seen animals, farm animals. They don’t understand where their food come from. And so, we wanted to kind of change that and kind of ingrain that into their minds there’s people out there that’s providing the food for them,” says Steed.
This type of immersive experience is not just beneficial to the students, but the entire agricultural industry going forward.
“These kids are probably not going to be farmers, but they’re going to be the teachers. They’re going to be the congressmen. They’re going to be people on any social issue with agriculture, now they’ll remember coming out and seeing first-hand how things work,” says Steed.
However, it is far from all work and no play, as kids get to enjoy a number of different activities from a petting zoo, to tube slides and even a five-acre corn maze. And this year’s theme is UFO’s.
“What I do is basically come up with an idea. I draw it out. Our surveyor and I in the area, we get together with the EMC, we get together and we basically just come up with how we want the corn maze to be in the field and he’s got a map of the field that we do it in. Once we put it out, he plots the points, I do a connect the dots kind of thing, once they come out and survey it. It’s very expensive to do it that way, but it’s more precise,” says Steed.
Providing the best experience possible is something Steed takes very seriously as he knows just how much of a long-lasting impact it can have on someone’s life.
“People are hungry to just to come out and see a farm and have their kids experience what you normally do on your daily life. And so, that’s the neat thing about it. I mean, you’re kind of sharing your life with a bunch of kids, but you see them having a great time and they remember. There’s a lot of kids in high school, that I taught in high school that basically remember coming out on the field trip. So, that kind of warms your heart a little bit knowing that you did something that they’re going to remember probably for the rest of their life,” says Steed.
By: Damon Jones