By: Kelsea Forward
After immigrating to Connecticut from Ireland in the 1850s, Philip James Jones established the Jones Family Farms with only 150 acres. Five generations later, the farm has grown to over 400 acres with various crops and various hands-on learning opportunities to educate the public about farming.
Farmers Terry and Jamie Jones recently sat down with Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation, to talk about their successful agritourism operation and how it connects them to their community.
Jones Family Farms grow pumpkins, Christmas trees, strawberries and blueberries. The farm offers various tourist attractions, including a self-harvest experience, hay wagon rides, a winery, and cooking classes. These experiences attract several hundred thousand guests every year. Terry Jones explained how the suburban community around the farm has the opportunity to experience farming firsthand.
“We are really an embassy for agriculture,” he said. “People look to us to get an idea of what American agriculture is like.”
President Duvall commended the Jones family for their educational efforts.
“I always say to people who farm like you that I thank you from the other farmers across the country because you educate people and give them a real sense of what we do every day,” he said.
In addition to its agritourism attractions, Jones Family Farms is known for its commitment to sustainability.
“It’s hard to embrace change, but I think it’s made our operation successful,” said Jamie. He continued, “A lot of things remain constant. We still farm, we still produce agricultural products, but you have to find ways to do this better using technology and better genetics.”
Jones Family Farms is guided by the words of its founder, Philip James Jones, who said, “Be good to the land and the land will be good to you.” They use many sustainable practices such as crop rotation, natural compost and no-till.
Terry and Jamie explained that many of their suburban guests visit the farm and harvest their own food, not just for the product but for the experience. The farm has focused on providing hospitality to their guests, which has helped them build a relationship with their community.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a community that encompasses our farm,” said Jamie.
Learn more about Jones Family Farms.
Kelsea Forward is Communications Assistant at AFBF.