Just off I-65 in Indiana, about equidistant from Chicago and Indianapolis, lies Fair Oaks Farms, a farming experience like no other. Fair Oaks Farms encompasses 36,000 acres, but it doesn’t feel massive, it feels intimate. It’s not just about farming, it’s about the process and every animal, crop, and person behind your food. From the moment you exit the highway, and pull up to the main building, you realize this place is different than anything you’ve seen before. Visiting Fair Oaks Farms Indiana was a life changing experience and one I can’t wait to share with my kids in the near future.
*I was a guest of the Kansas Soybean Commission and Kansas Pork for this farm visit. This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on those links. As always opinions are 100% my own.
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Fair Oaks Farms and had such an amazing experience I’ve been talking about it non-stop since I returned home. Our traveling group consisted of a representative of Kansas Soybean, dietitians, a few bloggers, and two couples who have their own farms. We spent one night in downtown Chicago exploring the Marriott on the Magnificent Mile, a property that makes 90% of its food from scratch, has a rooftop garden, and an in-house butcher shop. Another day we visited a farm in Rensselaer, Indiana learning from a farmer who harvests soybeans and corn, and raises pigs. On my favorite day we headed to Fair Oaks Farms where we spent the day learning not only about pigs, but crops and cows too. Here’s what to expect on a visit to Fair Oaks Farms:
What to Expect on a Visit to Fair Oaks Farms
Fair Oaks Farms has many separate areas to explore. Each one is an interactive experience featuring a different aspect of daily farm life. The Crop Adventure is all about farming, from the tools they use, to bugs they encounter, to the process of growing food. The Pork Education Center is a separate building all about pigs. With pig jokes throughout the place to make you giggle, a ropes course, and a tree house, this place makes learning about pigs fun. The Dairy Adventure has a fun 3D/4D movie about the day in the life of a cow, a climbing wall, and a nearby birthing barn. There’s a delicious on-site restaurant, The Farmhouse Restaurant (they serve plenty of bacon dishes), and a Cowfé serving lighter fare (their grilled cheese and ice cream are highly recommended). No one will be bored with this educational day at the farm.
The Pig Adventure
Fair Oaks Farms provides a complete educational experience by allowing visitors to see a working pig farm from farrow (birth) to finish. Visitors are bussed to the pig barn where they are rinsed in a shower (pigs can be highly susceptible to disease – don’t worry it’s a pretend one) and led to viewing platforms to see the pigs.
The pigs are placed in different rooms according to age, and guides, as well as literature on the wall, explain what happens on the other side of the glass. It was amazing to see piglets being born, piglets nursing, mama pigs resting, and learning about the electronic sow feeder. Watching pigs walk through the feeder hoping for food when they already had their fill for the day was comical. I loved seeing the size difference from birth to mama pig. It was mind blowing!
The Dairy Adventure
The highlight of the dairy experience for me was the birthing barn. I had never witnessed the birth of a cow and Fair Oaks Farms has multiple calves born on a daily basis. A light will go on over the Birthing Barn meaning a cow is in labor. Visitors gather in an auditorium and watch the entire birthing process (which can take up to an hour). There were two stalls and in the adjoining stall there was a newborn calf trying to take its first steps. It was difficult because the mama cow was licking it incessantly giving it a good first bath!
There’s also a cow bus that drives visitors to the milking barns. This informative tour explains the process of making milk and drives through the cow barn. Visitors watch cows being milked on a rotating carousel while cows enter and exit the wheel every few seconds. Both experiences are worth a visit.
When I was invited on this trip, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned a ton about farming, the food we eat, and the importance of educating the general population about agriculture.
About 120,000 people visit Adventures on the Farm and 500,000 visit the complex (restaurants, cafe, gas station, etc.) annually. Honestly, I feel a visit should be required for all children and adults. It’s important to know how food gets from the farm to the store. There are so many steps in the process, so many cogs in the wheel, I think people would be blown away by how much work goes into putting food on our table.
So the next time you’re in the grocery store, or sit down to have a meal, take a moment to talk to your kids about food and where it comes from. Or if you want a more memorable lesson, head to Fair Oaks Farms where they will teach your kids (and you) farming lessons they’ll never forget.