Monday, October 10, 2011

Vollmer Farm

Roadside Market
Sarah C. just toured Phillips Corn Maze and I didn't get to go (sniff sniff). So when I was looking for something fun and fall to do this past weekend, which was pretty much the best weekend weather a family could hope for, I decided to try out my own fall farm. Will Sarah C. be jealous?! Intrigue and drama here at MiCHill.

C and I decided to head out to Vollmer Farm in Bunn, NC. Vollmer is HUGE, I mean, HUGE. There is a lot to do here for families. Yet before I get into all the activities, I am going to start off with price. Because Vollmer is not cheap. There is a front roadside farmer's market area where you can pick your own pumpkin, play on some really neat playground equipment like a pirate ship, and buy other goods. There is no charge for admission to that area.

But the part I am really going to go into is called the "Back Forty." The Back Forty Playground at Vollmer Farm is where all the action is. The Back Forty costs you to get in: $13 ages 2 & up, and free for kids under 2. There are discounts for seniors as well as UNC and Duke Hospital employees. But you can see how this would add up quick. (Psst, if you are a Triangle NC Kids Club member you get a discount.)

That warning issued, there really is a lot to do here so you can easily get your $13 worth out of this adventure. This farm kept surprising me with how many activities were around each corner. We were here close to 3 hours and easily could have made it longer had we not had obligations back home (like nap a.k.a. Mom's sanity saving time).

Great Pumpkin Jump
Let's get going. Here is what the Back Forty has:
- A corn crib. We talked about this in our Ganyard Farm post and how great it is. This was a hit here, too!
- A pumpkin catapult. Um, young boys, pumpkins, large rubber bands, and targets? Yes, please.
- "Great Pumpkin Jump." This is a huge pillow-top looking thing to bounce on. See the picture to get the gist. The hardest part is getting up on it.
- A wooden playground area. This included a choo choo train, a large truck, some sort of blimp looking thing, swings, and John Deere tricycles.
- Duck races. Yet kids get really involved in these by pumping the water of the wells to make their ducks go. The faster you pump the well, the faster your duck goes.
- An underground slide. This is super fast, by the way.
- A "zip line" for tots. It is a little airplane on a short zip line that you put your kids in and away they fly.
- Not 1, but 2 corn mazes. One is small, one is large.
Cow Train
- A cow train. This was THE thing my toddler wanted to do here. A John Deere tractor pulls a bunch of cars that look like cows (each with its own name) around the grounds and the lake.
- A rubber play field. This is a bunch of tires and other really cool things placed all around the area for climbing, bouncing, and exploring.
- Rat races. A funny little game: kids climb into big tubes and someone rolls them around (caution:: do not let siblings roll each other, turns out they can be kind of evil and relentless when it comes to tormenting each other).
- Animals. There are lots of baby animals here including pigs, a cow, bunnies, goats, and hens.
- Rope maze. According to everything I have read there is a rope maze to do. We didn't see it but honestly I would not be surprised if we missed some things here.
- Large bubbles to create and chase.
- Arts and crafts.
- The pumpkin queen. If you see her around grounds, you can say hi to the pumpkin queen. She's not hard to miss!
 - Corn Hole.  There were corn hole games, complete with bean bags, set up all over for impromptu games.

I've put all my photos on our photobucket site if you want to see more.

Another great part? To get to the Back Forty you park your car at the farm's main shop and get a tractor pull ride to the back and another one to return to your car. It's sort of like a hay ride built in to the experience. We even got a little guided tour on our ride to the Back Forty, with the driver pointing out the various veggie patches and things they grow.

A little tip? Have your kids wear shoes that are easy to get on and off and think about socks (or not). The Great Pumpkin Jump and Corn Cribs both require no shoes.

The place was really clean, well put together, and well organized. All of the bathrooms are port-a-johns, but beyond that this was a really pristine area with a lot of scenery as well. And since this is a family place they have thought of everything: the tractor rides to the Back Forty accommodate strollers (either strap them to the hooks on the back or just bring them on with you) and there are changing tables and areas around.

Vollmer has concessions for sale on the Back Forty. You can buy ice cream, BBQ platters, hot dogs, sodas, water, and more. But families are also welcome to bring picnics and their own food in with them. Throughout the Back Forty are nice picnic tables - and a BUNCH so you will be able to find a picnic table if you want one. Whether or not you get one of the ones with shade is a different story since those are coveted....No dogs allowed, though. So some family members will have to stay home.

Vollmer does do birthday parties on the Back Forty and we saw 2 happening during our visit. They look like fun!

FYI, you don't get a free pumpkin to take home with you after your visit here. If you want one you have to pay extra.

Bunn, NC is not too far from Raleigh at all (I was surprised, Mapquest it!). From my home in Chapel Hill, Chatham Co. side nonetheless, it was just over an hour. Those of you in Raleigh will be much closer. I talked to some parents while there and they said that they found Vollmer much more enjoyable than Hill Ridge but since I haven't been to both I'll let you all be the judges. Just throwing it out there...

Something else so cute is that on Saturday nights in the fall Vollmer does a large bonfire, sells marshmallows to roast, and shows family friendly movies outside such as "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "Winnie the Pooh." Check their website, below, for details and schedule.

That's pretty much all I can think to share with you all about this spot! (Did you even make it this far?) We really had a fantastic time here and I will gladly go back next fall. Bear in mind that the Back Forty is a seasonal thing and only open to the public on weekends during October (see their website, below, for full hours) so you need to hurry if you want to go. And don't worry too much about crowds. There were a lot of folks there when we were but since there is so much space and so much to do it never felt crowded to us.

The roadside market of Vollmer is open year round selling seasonal vegetables. Also check them out during various fruit seasons since they have pick your own strawberries and organic blueberries. Vollmer also offers a CSA that, if my view of their vegetables is any barometer, I bet is really good.

Vollmer Farm
Fall Festival and Back Forty Playground
677 NC Hwy 98E


At October 23, 2011 at 12:23 PM , Blogger Libby McGowan said...

Looks Fantastic! Did you have any problems taking photos there? I'm a photographer wanting to do a simple engagement session.. I emailed them but didn't get a response.. Just wondering if there were any photography restrictions.. Thanks!!

At October 23, 2011 at 8:55 PM , Blogger allison c said...

Hi Libby- They didn't have any issues with me or any of the other families there snapping tons of pictures, but we weren't professionals (clearly). :) I had problems emailing them, too. I would recommend calling. I honestly have no idea but I would imagine they are fine with it. It is a beautiful spot, especially with the leaves being ready to pop! Good luck!
- Allison aka Mom in Chapel Hill


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