Word is out about one of Butler County's best-kept secrets
Word is getting out about one of Butler County’s best-kept secrets. Meadowlark Farm, southwest of Augusta on 160th, is producing some peaches, apples and a variety of delicious vegetables. The produce is available at three farmers markets in the Wichita area and can also be picked fresh right at the farm.
U-pick farming has existed for many years, was extremely popular in the 1950s, and has resurged in popularity with families. Parents appreciate giving their children the opportunity to experience the pleasure of picking fresh food.
Tom and Gina Brown purchased 80 acres and started Meadowlark Farm in 2010. They planted peach and apple trees in the Spring of 2011 and began raising vegetables and pumpkins in 2012.
The Browns, both Kansas natives, spent many years living and working outside of the U.S. When 911 occurred, Tom was working in agriculture development in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Gina was providing health care to Afghan women in a clinic in Kabul, Afghanistan, in addition to schooling their three children.
“In September 2001, life was unclear over there - we had to decide what to do. Her parents were here. We decided to come here and she worked toward a degree at WSU, where she now teaches,” Tom explained.
Although he still does some work in foreign countries, he is trying to phase that career out and dedicate all of his time to the farm.
“I did a lot of orchard management and worked with nursery growers in Pakistan. It wasn’t complicated - it’s what we did in the U.S. 100 years ago. My years working there has helped my approach to farming here,” he said.
He credits the Kansas Fruit Growers Association with “mentoring” him and offering solid advice with the orchards and the U-pick business.
“We are able to offer delicious and healthy food for our customers...This is so much fun. I love the customers and enjoy seeing them tremendously. And it’s great to see them come back,” Tom continued. “We want them to feel comfortable in staying a while when they’re here. We have picnic tables, the store, rest room facilities - it’s great for families.”
Currently, there are still some ripe, sweet peaches, along with fresh tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant and Afghan sweet melons. Fall is around the corner with lots of apples, pumpkins and fall crops. Also planned is a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and hay rides.
Meadowlark Farm offers private picnic areas during off hours, and small groups for bonfires and rustic cookouts can be hosted in secluded and secure spots located around Meadowlark Farm. The orchards are also handicap accessible, adding convenience for all visitors.
Visiting Meadowlark Farm is not just about good prices and fresh food, but because the experience is fun and wholesome.
“We want to see the farm grow and we strive to make it a place that people will want to visit at least five or six times a year,” he added. “The best part is getting to know the customers.”
Fresh produce from Meadowlark Farm can be purchased on Tuesday afternoons at Green Acres in Wichita, on Wednesday mornings at Douglas and Oliver in Wichita, and on Saturdays at the Farmers Market in Derby.
There are peaches left and currently the farm is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or as long as the gate is open and the OPEN sign is up. The address is 11249 SW 160th, Rose Hill. Find them on Facebook or go to: www.themeadowlarkfarm.com.