By: Kelsea Forward
After immigrating to Connecticut from Ireland in the 1850s, Philip James Jones started Jones Family Farms with just 150 acres. Five generations later, the farm has grown to over 400 acres of diverse crops and various hands-on learning opportunities to help teach agriculture to the public.
Farmers Terry and Jamie Jones recently sat down with Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, to discuss their successful agritourism operation and how it connects them to their community.
Jones Family Farms grows pumpkins, Christmas trees, strawberries and blueberries. The farm offers several different tourist attractions, including a personal harvesting experience, wagon rides, a winery, and cooking classes. These experiences attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Terry Jones explained how the suburban community surrounding the farm has the chance to experience farming first-hand.
“We really are an embassy for agriculture,” he said. “People look to us for a vision of what American agriculture is all about.”
President Duvall commended the Jones family for their educational efforts.
“I always say to people who farm like you, thank you from the rest of the farmers across the country because you educate people and give them a real-life feel to what we do every day,” he said. .
Besides their agritourism attractions, Jones Family Farms is known for its commitment to sustainability.
“It’s hard to embrace change, but I think that’s what made our farm successful,” Jamie said. He went on to explain, “A lot of things stay constant. We are still farming, we are still producing agricultural products, but you have to find ways to do it better using technology and better genetics.
Jones Family Farms is guided by the words of founder Philip James Jones, who said, “Be good to the land and the land will be good to you.” They use many sustainable practices including crop rotation, natural compost and direct seeding.
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 focused on the hospitality of its guests, which helped them build a relationship with their community.
“We have been fortunate to have a community that embraces our farm. says Jamie.
Learn more about Jones Family Farms.
Kelsea Forward is the Communications Assistant at AFBF.