By: Kelsea Forward
After immigrating from Ireland to Connecticut 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 the public about agriculture.
Farmers Terry and Jamie Jones recently sat down with American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall to chat about 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 tourism attractions including a harvest-your-own experience, hayrides, a winery and cooking classes. These experiences draw several hundred thousand guests each year. Terry Jones explained how the suburban community surrounding the farm has a chance to experience agriculture firsthand.
“We’re really an embassy for farming,” he said. “People look to us to get a vision of what American agriculture is like.”
President Duvall commended the Jones family on their education efforts.
“I always tell people who farm like you do, thank you from the rest of the farmers across the country because you are educating people and giving them a real-life touch of what we do each and every day,” he said.
Besides their agritourism attractions, Jones Family Farms is known for their commitment to sustainability.
“It’s hard to embrace change but I think that’s what has made our farm successful,” Jamie said. He went on to explain, “Many things do remain constant. We’re still farming, we’re still producing agricultural products, but you do have to figure out ways to do it 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 including 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 offering their guests hospitality, which has helped them form a relationship with their community.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a community that embraces our farm.” Jamie said.
Learn more about Jones Family Farms.
Kelsea Forward is the Communications assistant at AFBF.