Feb 23, 2023
Bus tour visits Texas farms during agritourism convention

The Feb. 3-7 NAFDMA International Agritourism Association Convention & Expo in Austin, Texas, drew the highest turnout in nearly two decades.

More than 900 agritourism operators, including fruit and vegetable growers and farm retail store managers, attended, the highest since 2005, said Suzi Spahr, executive director.

The convention attracted participants from throughout the U.S., Canada, Britain and Australia, who crowded numerous educational sessions and the trade show floor.

More than 600 participants packed 12 buses which took them to central Texas agritourism and agritainment operations.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Sweet Eats Fruit Farm


The first stop was Sweet Eats Fruit Farm, east of Georgetown, northeast of Austin.

Jon Meredith, owner, welcomed participants in the agritainment operation’s large admissions area, which included video monitors showing the farm’s operations. Originally designed as a u-pick fruit farm in 2013, Sweet Eats began adding vegetables and agritainment as a hedge from crop risks. It attributes its large growth to its employees’ dedication and hard work.

Sweet Eats grows peaches and nectarines as well as vegetables including romaine, iceberg, kale, parsley, spinach, celery, green and red cabbage and onions.

Sweet Eats’ Mau Morales led a tour of farming operations with Lisa Class of Weber’s Cider Mill Farm in Parkville, Maryland, who view the farm’s peach and nectarine trees.
Jon Meredith, owner of Sweet Eats Fruit Farm in Georgetown, Texas, greets NAFDMA convention attendees who toured central Texas agritourism operations.









“When it comes to the uniqueness of farming, we don’t have the family dynamics most of you have,” Meredith told tour members. “We have a strict hiring practice where we try to find the best of our area.”

Sweet Eats’ October fall festival attracts up to 70,000 visitors. Running the operation, which features an adventure farm and petting zoo, pig races, apple slingshots and u-pick strawberries and peaches, Meredith said he studied not only the best practices of the agritourism industry, but also researched amusement parks, to reach different demographics.

To discourage customer theft, Sweet Eats is moving to growing products customers can’t easily steal, including Christmas trees and flowers. It trimmed peach and nectarine production from 50 acres to 9 acres.

Sweet Berry Farm


At Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Farms, Texas, northwest of Austin, the Copeland family offers strawberry and pumpkin u-picking.

Dan Copeland, of the Sweet Berry Farm u-pick strawberry operation, right, talks about automated plastic and drip line laying farm machinery during the NAFDMA International Agritourism Association Convention bus tour in the Austin, Texas, area.
NAFDMA International Agritourism Association Convention attendees who toured central Texas agritourism operations walked through Sweet Berry Farm’s strawberry fields.










“In the spring, we grow strawberries, and pumpkins in the fall, with sunflowers in-between,” Dan Copeland, co-owner, told the group. “We started with 8 acres in 1999. Today, we have 150 acres. We are planning to do a total overhaul for the fall.”

The Texas Hill Country farm provides “good old-fashioned farm family fun” for visitors. Activities include scarecrow stuffing through a life-sized scarecrow, a scarecrow island hayride and a Texas-shaped hay maze.

During the spring, the farm hosts 6,000 public school children and 5,000 visit the farm’s fall celebration. At any given time, four generations of Copeland family members may be working the farm’s berries, pumpkins and tulips, or greeting consumers at a sunflower jungle, a goat treehouse and sand art buckets.

Robinson Family Farm


Visiting Robinson Family Farm in Temple, Texas, tour members saw how a traditional farming operation was transformed into a booming agritourism business. Brian and Helen Robinson’s family cattle farm, which dates to the late 1940s, transitioned over the years from field corn, hay and some fruits and vegetables from a garden to only cattle.

The Robinson Family Farm in Temple, Texas, successfully moved from raising livestock and growing vegetables to providing families agritainment activities.

Raising five boys, the couple wanted to try something different and knew the local community needed more affordable family-oriented activities. In 2013, the Robinsons opened a pumpkin patch, attracting 5,000 guests the first season which grew to today’s 50,000 visitors.


The farm sells Christmas trees and added events including a sunflower festival. Their Easter event features helicopter egg drops. Agritainment activities include archery, hayrides, a tire mountain, playground, corn cannons, axe throwing with food trucks supplying meals.

“So many of you grow things,” Brian told the group. “We all share the same goal as our customers, to grow memories. We know at times this business can be scary for some, as change is hard and you’re not sure you’re making the right decision.”

TOP PHOTO: Agritourism is a big part of Sweet Berry Farm, a Marble Farms, Texas, strawberry and pumpkin u-pick.

Photos and story by Doug Ohlemeier

Current Issue

On-farm AI: Water, farm, labor research guide decisions

Data collection tool expands farm management

Carmel Valley winegrapes: Parsonage Village Vineyard

IFTA Yakima Valley tour provides orchard insights

IFTA recognizes tree fruit honorees

Pennsylvania recognizes fruit industry professionals

Fresh Views 40 Under 40

see all current issue »

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

produceprocessingsm Organic Grower