The Gentry Farm in Franklin is a perfect fall destination for families who want their children to experience some farm fun, including traipsing through a corn maze, enjoying a tractor pulled wagon ride, meeting lots of farm animals, taking a hike on a nature trail along the West Harpeth River and playing in an indoor maze with slides and other barnyard fun.
A visit to the farm is also a good chance to pick up some pumpkins and to snag some fantastic fall photos.
“We are a working farm and center our activities around making family memories and creating fun, educational opportunities,’’ said Cindy Gentry, who operates the farm with her husband, Allen, whose family has owned this working farm for seven generations.
“Rather than carnival rides and petting zoos, we focus on hands-on learning and imaginative play,” said Gentry, who is a working farmer these days but is also a former education director for the Heritage Foundation and a living history aficionado in Franklin.
The 400-acre farm, across from the Westhaven community on New Highway 96 just west of Franklin, has been offering a full slate of fun fall activities during October for more than 30 years, mostly through field trip visits but also opening the farm on weekends for families.
“We probably get over 30,000 people during the month,” said Gentry, who said about 8,000 to 9,000 of those come on field trips and the rest are weekend visitors.
“It is just fun. Over the years we have developed relationships with a lot of the teachers and now we see parents coming who say they remember coming to the farm when they were kindergarteners,” she said. “We never dreamed any of this when we first started.”
The Gentrys said that the first year was just inviting some preschoolers from their church out to their pumpkin patch. Their farm experience was so well received that they added more activities each year so now there are dozens of activities for children and families.
One of the highlights of the Gentry Farm experience is the four-acre corn maze where the corn is planted in a grid and then carved out to maze specifications.
Cindy Gentry said their son Jase Gentry (a big part of the farm operation) draws the maze plan out on graph paper and then measures and cuts the paths for the maze, which can confound visitors of all ages as they try to make their way through. The sign at the entrance says to “allow 15 minutes” and “stay on the path.”
Similarly, there is a beautiful labyrinth which offers visitors a chance to find their way through another stand of corn, which might take a good 30 minutes to figure out.
Visitors can also see farm animals, including chickens, sheep, goats, turkeys, pigs and rabbits (it is not a petting zoo but a chance to see these farm animals), and the Gentrys offer a 10-15-minute wagon ride across the property where visitors can see the beautiful farm landscape and the farm’s many cows.
“I think we have 35-40 mamas so people can see a lot of calves,” Gentry said.
There is also putt-putt golf and a shed where children can sort grains and a barn with a maze and slides and other fun inside.
And, yes, all of the activities are included in the $10 admission price.
The farm has been owned by the Gentry family for more than 165 years. The farming efforts include growing pumpkins and raising beef cattle.
They also grow about 100 acres of hay which they use to feed the farm’s cows in the winter.
“Our main focus is to offer educational programs for groups in the fall and the spring and we also offer a down-to-earth fun summer day camp,” Cindy Gentry said.
“God has blessed us with this beautiful land and we enjoy sharing His creation with the community,” she said.
If you go, don’t miss the little things like the life size spider web and the old-fashioned tire swing, that children love.
And know that there are dozens of great backdrops for fantastic fall photos – like the pumpkin area, the historic pumpkin truck, the corn maze and more.
This farm is a definite Midstate treasure and I love it that it is free for those 65 and older.