Posts Tagged ‘Agri-tourism’

Ohio Wine and More… and Pigs???

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Ok, If you are a “Hoytie-Toytie” wine snob….you are not going to like me or my blog. Save yourself some time and click on that little red “X” in the upper right hand corner. This is a story about how we ended up raising hogs (pigs, farmers call them hogs more than pigs) again, and how they end up in the hands of Chefs in and around the HOT emerging Cleveland local food scene.

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

Hi, Watcha' doin'?

I am a family farmer, winery owner and soon to be brewery owner along with my wife, brother-in-law and my in-law’s. Brace yourself we are incorporated so technically a “corporate farm” I guess, you have to be for liability concerns. I drive a 2000 F-350 with 194K+ miles on it, I bought my wife a “new car” last year it was a 2007. We don’t live large we work hard. We are a Winery with ADHD, basically I shoot pumpkins out of a cannon for a living and also build corn mazes.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

Me, on the deck of our pumpkin cannon getting ready to fire.

I was scanning the web and stumbled across a article about a local Chef in Cleveland following his dream and opening a butcher shop behind the West Side Market. I thought cool, so I followed up and read about it. His name is Adam Lambert and is currently a chef at bar cento . He will open a butcher shop in the “Palace of Fermentation,” Sam McNulty’s multi-faceted project currently taking shape in the Culinary Arts Building behind the West Side Market. You can read the story here.

As I read the article I came to realize the hogs we raise end up with him via Fresh Fork Market ! But here is the story behind how we got back into raising Hogs…..

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

My brother in laws Steve and Todd getting ready to load some hogs.

We used to farm “large” about 15 years ago. 3,000 acres, milked 150 head of cows, trucks, grain lots of equipment. We eventually got run out by houses and low commodity prices. We sold stuff off and tried to survive. We opened a farm market and started raising small vegetables. My wife’s family has lived here (Marlboro) since the 1800’s. Her family has done everything, sheep, hogs, cows, dairy, tanned leather, taught school etc. etc. But one thing they had never done was “Agri-tourism”, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, hayrides and such.

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

2013 LoCo Motion corn Maze

After a few years corn maze’s were just not enough we needed to add more things for people to see and do. So we heard about racing pigs and thought we know pigs lets give it a try. But we don’t just race pigs…..we do NASHOG! The finest in Flat track pig racing in Ohio! We even built them a new track this year without a “Sin Tax”!

NASHOG race track

NASHOG race track

Our pigs have lots of room to move, run and have fun. They mostly just like to eat and sleep however. To train them to race you need cookies! Pigs like to eat pretty much the same stuff humans do and they run for Oreo’s!

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

"Pig Pile" soaking up some rays

We do “NASHOG” races on fall weekends starting at about noon and going till dusk. We get enough pigs so no one has to run too much but still have enough time to get cookies. They get a BIG shot of grain at the end of the day. Even giving them full feed they still grow slower than their buddies back at the farm who don’t get the opportunity to run the flat track every day. Maybe the stress of “celebrity” holds them back too? They do have lots of fans.

A small crowd catching a pig race

A small crowd catching a pig race

But at the end of the Corn Maze, Pumpkin Picking Season what is there to do with a bunch of highly trained athletes that have a bit of ego and celebrity? At first we took them to auction and took an absolute beating not even getting back our costs. It is the wrong time of the year for people to want pigs to feed out. So we took them to the home farm and started feeding them out ourselves for our freezers. We had few people buy one here or there but not too much of a consistent market for them.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

Feeding time, that's all the time really.

That’s where Fresh Fork market and the patrons of Cleveland area restaurants and other customers of Trevor and Fresh Fork came in. Trevor starting buying our “Surplus Racing Pigs” and soon more. We starting raising hogs again year round now. Some regular breeds some special breeds depending upon what is asked for.

Now That's FAST FooD!

Now That's FAST FooD!

So thank you for supporting local folks doing cool new things and next time you sit down in Cleveland for a special dinner with friends, it may not be McDonalds…..But it still could be, “Fast Food”!

2014 New Food, New Fun, New Friends, New Wines, New Events!

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Wow here we go again a new year a year of new possibilities. The cool thing about farming and the winery is we really do get start all over again new each year. That is one huge reason many of us stay in the agriculture business. Each year brings a new chance to do better than years past. You can take lessons learned and apply them going forward. You read, surf the web, attend conferences, network with other growers. A new year is like Christmas morning with new gift of opportunity just waiting to be opened.

I love being out working when the sunrises!

I love being out working when the sunrises!

A Big part of what we do is a long list of special events on the farm. We can talk about farming and the joys and challenges that go with it but we also have to answer the question: what can we do for you? How can we bring you Hakuna Matata? Being authentic is very important to us. Out of these two ideas we try and develop things for people to come, see and do while visiting with us. Some things are grand some are simple, some are weekly, some are monthly some go on for weeks on end, some are seasonal. But we always want people to ask, “what is going on at Maize Valley?”

2013 LoCo Motion final 3

2013 LoCo Motion Corn Maze Adventure

Way back in the day we pretty much got started with our Corn Mazes and pumpkin picking. We still do this every year and it continues to grow each year. But we also do a wide variety of other events starting in January.

Here is a quick list of what we have on the books for 2014 with more to follow.

January 18th – The Island Doctor in the Winery

About now people are asking "Snow or Sand?"

About now people are asking "Snow or Sand?"

February 14th – Valentines Day dinner

March 6th – Locker Club Dinner
March 22nd – Winery Open House

Todd (my bro-in-law the wine maker) chatting up folks at Open House

Todd (my bro-in-law the wine maker) chatting up folks at Open House

April 19th – Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Who Da Bunny!

Who Da Bunny!

May 7th – “PINK” Party (Breast cancer fund raiser)

Pink Party ladies

Pink Party ladies

May 11th -Mothers Day Dinner
May 15th – 1st Cruse In of the Season

Metal Muscle Nights

Metal Muscle Nights

June 28th – 1st Lt. Ashley White Stumpf Memorial Day

July 19th – NEW EVENT! Food/Farm/Fun/Farmathalone, Kids Dream Day

Farmathalone gang

Farmathalone gang

July 26th – International Dance Day special event

August – We have no scheduled on farm events as we go into final approach for the Fall Harvest Season

Oh Boy Here comes Fall!

Oh Boy Here comes Fall!

September 13th – Corn Maze Opens ( This is a time of year where more things start to happen as we approach October)
September 27th – Balloon Lift; This also marks the beginning of expanded offerings centered around the corn maze and pick your own pumpkins

October 11th & 12th – Megasauras Days, Big event details on web site and will have its own blog post later.

Mega flaming car 2013

Mega flaming car 2013

November 28th & 29th – Christmas Tree Viewing Days

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa


December 13th & 20th Breakfast with Santa

This is a listing of our “Core events”. Please keep in mind we will be also going off site to wine pours if you would like to join us.

Vintner's Dinner seating

Vintner's Dinner seating


Plus we have the monthly events such as our Vintner Dinners held the 3rd Thursday of each month, Wine’d up Wednesdays starting May and more. I’d keep going but you’re probably tired to scrolling already! In future blog post we will break down each event on its own, thank you for stopping by!

Breakfast with Santa part 3, Ohio Wine gifts helping Mom out when she needs it the most!

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

This blog post is the last of three outlining how we do Breakfast with the “Big Guy”! We talked about how we took care of the kids and what we did for the family. But what about Mom (or Dad) looking to by that special local gift? We feature Ohio Wines made right on the farm.

Got gifts?

Got gifts?

And we don’t just have “wine only” gifts either we also carry a variety of other holiday related items to help fill in some gaps people may have. But have you ever had a Chocolate Covered wine bottle given to you as a gift? Hey, you got your chocolate in my wine, No your got your wine in my chocolate…….Do you see where I’m headed? Besides that we have other unique gifts including our Home made Fudge, cookies, pies, pie breads that warm the heart and soul.

Chocolate Bottles

Chocolate Bottles

So as I look back at all we do I am reminded our slogan “We have a Vintage for all the seasons of you life” is really true. We are not trying to be crafty or have some huge marketing plot behind what we do. We just try and make every lick count, and keep the ball rolling best we can from day to day, season to season, year to year, generation to generation. And now about the “General” behind this event. There really are two, of course “Santa” I give him props he really keeps us on our toes all year round, but also my wife Michelle.

The leader of the pack this day

The leader of the pack this day

But not just the leader of the pack this day, barely two weeks after a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. This picture was taken December 2009, we are now getting ready for the 2013 event and I’m thankful everyday to have her.

Michelle my wife and "survivor"

My wife Michelle and her Mom Donna (Center and right) both breast cancer survivors.

So yes we are about building memories to last a lifetime. We are about creating a place that is authentic and hopefully a meaningful place in people’s lives both in location and time. We are about a family farm who is discovering ways to take the resources we have and repurpose them in unique ways that make a difference in people’s lives. We don’t expect people to give us their business, but we hope we can earn it. No we plan on earning it.

Holiday cheer by the truckload

Holiday cheer by the truckload

If you would like to learn more about our special events please visit

For information about 2013 Breakfast with Santa only.

Looking for a Real Nice Christmas Tree? Check out our Neighbors to the East!

Friday, November 29th, 2013

People often ask us when they are out at our place, “Are those your trees?” as they point to the Eastern edge of our farm. No we say but the folks that own them are awesome. It is Moore’s Christmas Tree and Dayliliy Farm and we always suggest that people make the journey back out to the Marlboro/Hartville area to find that perfect tree.

Just the start of your selection!

Just the start of your selection!

The Moore family is a great bunch of folks. They really have a great sense of humor. In fact a few years back Dave Moore was out tagging trees in the fall. I launched a pumpkin and really got a hold of it. The tree field is over a half mile away. My cell phone rang and it was Dave, he said the last one landed about 35 feet from him and in a real relaxed and calm voice asked if I could “back it down a bit”, I obliged him. The next year they put up the following…….

Moore's Target

Moore's Target

We try and work together best we can throughout the year. For some of our Cross Country and extreme races we run on the farm we often use part of Moore’s farm as they have a good hill to challenge the runners on. But the day after Thanksgiving they have the perfect setting to come and harvest the perfect tree. You can wander their farm and have a variety of ways to get your favorite tree. Once you pic the tree you like you tear off the bottom part of the tag they have put on the tree. It has the trees price and a matching number so you get the right tree once it is cut.

Two piece tag

Each tree has a tag on it with its price.

Once you have found the tree you like you can cut it yourself or tear the tag off, go to the shed and pay for it and have Moore’s cut it. After it is cut you bring the tree to the shaker if you like.

They can Shake your tree to clean it up.

They will Shake out all the birds nests and dead needles

After the Shaker you can have it “net wrapped” or sort of bagged so it is easy to transport and get in the door at home.

Wrapping the tree

Wrapping the tree

After they wrap it they can also drill a hole in the center bottom of the tree if you have a tree stand that has a spear up the center. This is a huge help if you have ever tried to drill that yourself.

The parking lot is nearby so it is easy to get to your vehicle.

The parking lot is nearby so it is easy to get to your vehicle.

They do much like we do, they have created a great place for families to gather and experience a day on the farm, instead of pumpkins it is a Christmas tree.

Finding time for family fun

Finding time for family fun

So look for this sign just about one half mile East of our place on the same side of the road.

Moore's sign on the North side of 6 St. Rt. 619

Moore's sign on the North side of 6 St. Rt. 619

Oh and don’t forget to stop by and see us after you have walked around out in the cold! We always have some HOT Soup on the stove and a whole bunch of other menu items to warm you up! Keep in mind we are closed on Sundays.

Many great menu items to choose from

Many great menu items to choose from

Let it SNOW! Some views from around the Farm

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

My wife Michelle and I live in the house her Grandfather was born in. He passed away almost 20 years ago in his late 80’s. His parents were not the first generation to live in this house. In fact my wife’s family were the third family to settle in Marlboro twp. Ohio in the 1800’s. They have been farmers, school teachers, leather tanners and most recently we make wine.

Our House covered in snow.

Our House covered in snow.

I needed to go out and plow snow off the parking lot at the market and winery so folks could come and get their Thanksgiving shopping needs done. Our new Winter wine is a big hit and our Cranberry a holiday favorite.

Market in snow

Market in snow

Farms have lots of all kinds of cool stuff for snow to blanket.

Massy Combine in snow

Massy Combine in snow

That machine above is a 1952 Massy Harris Combine. It just came to us this year. A neighbor used it up untill it’s engine gave out on the way to the field to harvest Oats this past summer. Now it is just a “prop” for our guests who visit the farm to look at and enjoy. I may try and fix the engine yet this winter if I can find parts.

Snow covered vines

Snow covered vines

Our vineyard is sleeping now. Our crop was lost this past year (2013) due to a late freeze on May 28th, and 29th. Days like that your remember. They year before (2012) we had a record crop. Life averages out.

Moore's Tree Farm

Moore's Tree Farm

Our neighbors to our East own and operate a Christmas Tree Farm. It is called Moore’s Christmas Tree and Day Lilly farm. As the name implies they do Christmas trees and in the spring and summer Lillies. They are really nice folks, they don’t mind a bit when I land pumpkins on there farm during the fall pumpkin cannon season. It is about a half a mile as the crow (or pumpkin) flys.

Come on out get a tree and stop in the Winery for some great menu options ranging from soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Please note we are closed on Sundays, Moore’s are open. More about breakfast with Santa soon.

Breakfast with Santa at the Winery part 2

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Over the years this event has evolved into more than just “Breakfast”. It sells out because we limit the seatings and the number of guests so that while you are there you have enjoyable holiday experience. It isn’t just about seeing that you little loved ones get parked on Santa’s lap for a photo opp. It is about taking time to connect a bit during what can be a stressful time of year.

Lou a local attorney a frequent customer with his wife with his grand kids

Lou a local attorney a frequent customer with his wife with his grand kids

We try and keep it relaxed with lots of things to do so people are not rushed and have time to spend with each other while they wait on the main event. This also helps with the line waiting for Santa. We limit the seating to a amount that allows for everyone to casually move from one thing to another so they can get everything done without stressing out.

Now that is FOCUS!

Now that is FOCUS! Future pastry chef?

Then of course……The MAIN event……LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!! We have a great guy who, well…..we have Santa!

One on One, getting it right, checking those eyes...twice

One on One, getting it right, checking those eyes...twice

Or bring the whole gang!

Memories held fast in time.

Memories held fast in time.

We do a total of three “seatings” now for this event capping each one at about 130-150 people depending upon a variety of reasons. But okay what about business or what about meeting peoples needs and also giving a bit of “Hakuna Matata” and solving some gift giving needs people have too? We’ll touch on that next post, I’ve already gone on too long here!

If you would like to learn more about our special events please visit

For information about 2013 Breakfast with Santa only.

Breakfast with Santa at the Winery part 1

Monday, November 25th, 2013
Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa, every year we do an “Over the top” breakfast with Santa and gradually have gotten to be know as “Thee place to be” for this type of event. People start calling us to make pre-paid reservations in October! This event

Ho, Ho, HO!  Let it snow!

Ho, Ho, HO! Let it snow!

First of all we take pre-paid reservations only for this event. Call us up, we get your information and reserve you a place to enjoy the event. We like to make sure everyone has the time and room they need for whatever size their group is. The breakfast is done buffet style where we serve our guests as they move through the line. Nobody leaves hungry and we keep it neat and full.

Chow line!

Chow line!

The chairs that the night before had guests sitting around the winery enjoying wine and food while listening to live entertainment are now filled with families bridging the generational gaps and finding way to enjoy each others company while of course waiting to meet the “Big Guy”!

One of our Reserved seating areas

One of our Reserved seating areas

Next post we’ll take more detailed look at what else goes on with Santa.

If you would like to learn more about our special events please visit

For information about 2013 Breakfast with Santa only.

Getting “Lucky”

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Life is full of “Cliche’s”. Most of them do make sense and are meaningful if not overused and used appropriately. The older I get……. I bet you thought I was going to say “The wiser I get” right? Well yes, but I prefer to look at it more like “Gee I was sure stupid when I was young”, how did I ever survive? As I travel along inside this box of chocolates on this journey my “work” affords me the opportunity to interact and engage with lots of different folks for many walks of life and viewpoints on it all.

This past weekend I met Bennie. Bennie has M.S. Bennie has his “work cut out for him” as does his family. I can’t say much about Bennie, I really don’t know much about him, his struggles or what it is like to be in his shoes. But I got lucky in the sense I was able to help Bennie and not hardly lift a finger.

Jade Addressing the Volunteers and Participants

Jade Addressing the Volunteers and Participants

You see this past fall we hosted a event that really stretched us at the farm. On October 12th we hosted the Federal League Cross Country Meet. Lake High School is located just West of us about 4 miles in the Village of Hartville, Ohio. It is a small community but where the school sits there is no room for a good Cross Country Course. We are located in a different School District (Marlington) but have relationships all over the running community due to some of the events we have done in the past. The reason it stretched us was immediately following the race we had another event scheduled that afternoon and evening that brought us our biggest single day attendance ever. On the day we had over 6,000 people visit the farm in total.

Federal League Meet Oct. 12th 2013

Federal League Meet Oct. 12th 2013

We have done 5K’s as well as “Extreme races” (Mud Runs), ours was called the “Farmathalone”. We have prepared a course on the farm and pretty much maintain the paths year round to both farm on and do a variety of special events. As part of our “Brand” we like to promote our authenticity as a real farm but also have it so it can be a dual use facility for marketing what we grow and produce.

On the the 12th a young lady by the name of Jade Smith was on the Lake High School team and ran along with her teammates. Most of the schools had practiced in the weeks leading up to event and Jade had been out several times. It was pretty cool, while the coaches Jeff and Chris busted their butts to make the course race ready for the event you could see the students as well bending over and pitching stones aside and leveling ruts.

Jade is in the National Honor Society and members need to do a project as part of the requirements. She choose to do a fund raiser for a boy in their church named Bennie. Jade along with her coach Chris Wise asked me if I thought they could use our course as the location for a 5K. I brought it before our family and we said yes. So they organized it and took on the challenge.

It was not a big fancy “Chip Timed” event. It was about a young lady helping a young man because he needed it. Chris came out and dug into some of our supplies, brought his own and laid out the course. Jade her Mom and crew did all the other stuff you need to do make a race happen. I just opened the gate and tried to make sure we didn’t leave anything dangerous lying around after our fall clean up.

Bookin it for Bennie

Bookin it for Bennie

We were “Prepared” for an “Opportunity” to come along, and I guess you call that being “Lucky”. It was so rewarding to be able to help young adult who came to us with their arms stretched out asking for a “Hand Up”, rather than just a “Hand Out”. I’ll help those kids all day long and twice on Sunday.

 

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
Winter time Field Drain Tile Work

Winter time Field Drain Tile Work

Don’t be left out in the cold!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
It can get lonely out there!

It can get lonely out there!

January is in the books! WoW this has been one of the most productive winter months we have had in years. Last winter I started pushing snow the first week in December and didn’t stop till March. This year I’ve only had the plow on my truck twice!!! 🙂 Woot-WoOt!

Giving the old Trac-hoe a "boost"!

Giving the old Trac-hoe a "boost"!

We are planning a new winery expansion so we are taking quotes. We need to have this building up by August to keep up with inventory and sales needs. But in the meantime we moved a old barn that was actually stradeling the property line. A old issue from way back when we bought the property the barn sat on that we were going to get too….some day. Well the house sold and it needed moved.

Moving the barn while we had a little frost in the ground

Moving the barn while we had a little frost in the ground

We put a 3 season enclosure around our “Gateway Pavilion” so we can get started with Corn Hole tournaments in the spring and extend our fall outdoor season as well. Raidient heating going in next! It should be a GREAT place to come out and play with a sweat shirt on even down into the 40’s!

Brad and Bruce Dickerhoof of Rainmain Const.

Brad and Bruce Dickerhoof of Rainmain Const.

Corn Hole, live tunes, ping-pong, just a place to come and play!

Getting our "game-face" on!

Getting our "game-face" on!

All the while we are still growing some really tasty stuff in the greenhouses for the farmers’ markets and our Vintner’s Dinner series. Boy this was a outstanding meal with spinach salad and green beans coming right from our own farm in January in Ohio!

Yo Popeye!

Yo Popeye!

Did I mention we are launching a new fitness program next spring and I am getting ready for it by going through the p90x fitness program?

Mouth watering!

Mouth watering!

We had a Red Solo Cup Nite in the Winery! OMG that ROCKED us like no other January “mini-event”. Way too much fun!

Red Solo Cup...I fill U up!

Red Solo Cup...I fill U up!

We had a Island Party too with who else but the Island Dr. of course….How low can U go?

p90x yoga, yea that helps!

p90x yoga, yea that helps!

Mom and Dad on their 65th!

Mom and Dad on their 65th!

Did I forget to mention that my Mom and Dad celebrated their 65th Wedding anniversary??

Display from the Indiana Young Farmer Conference

Display from the Indiana Young Farmer Conference

I even had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference. What a great group of young farmers! Reminded me of my wife and I bout 18 yrs ago!!!

Naw! This is the Keynote crowd!  I had much smaller room!

Naw! This is the Keynote crowd! I had much smaller room!

All in all a very good month and we got eleven more to go to make 2012 even better than 2011 and we are pumped!

p90x week 6!  Bring It!

p90x week 6! Bring It!

So stay tuned for more of what is coming up from down on the farm, market, and winery at Maize Valley. We have a vintage for all the seasons of your life!

R house is a very, very fine house!

R house is a very, very fine house!

Did forget to say I have a beautiful family?? 🙂

Yes, her date knows I carry a gun!

Yes, her date knows I carry a gun!