The call of the wild is like a call from an elderly grandparent: though you can’t quite make out what’s being said, you feel better about yourself when you answer. Pick up nature's phone with today's Groupon: for $10, you get one admission to Green Meadows Petting Farm in Kissimmee (up to a $22 value). Discounted rates are offered for teachers and senior citizens; admission is free for children aged 2 and younger.
Open 363 days a year, Green Meadows Petting Farm fosters barnyard awareness with a hands-on tour of more than 300 animals. A knowledgeable farm guru pilots groups through a vast menagerie of buffalo and sheep before reaching the dairy cows, where patrons can hone milking techniques and discuss cookie-dunking etiquette. Children can embark on a pony ride to survey grazing animals from atop a trusty steed, or lounge on the golden bales of a tractor-drawn hayride. Patrons who bring their lunches are free to graze at the farm’s ample picnic space or seek nourishment at the general store, which sells snacks, beverages, and voice-activated butter churns.
Over the course of 46 years, owners Bob and Coni Keyes have expanded Green Meadows Petting Farm to encompass several locations, with more than 500,000 clients each year. The rustic menagerie regularly plays host to visiting school groups, families, and runaway circus tigers that long to be hugged.
Green Meadows Farm
Although the 1960s was an era of change, children were still not allowed to pick their own produce at Milwaukee-area farms. This seemingly minor policy was the spark that began Green Meadows Farm, Kissimmee's family-oriented petting farm populated by 300 animals. Bob and Coni Keyes started with a hog and cattle farm in Waterford, Wisconsin. Believing farms were places where kids could learn and interact with animals, the couple converted their 80 acres into a raspberry and veggie patch that also featured a handful of friendly farm animals to welcome kids. The petting farm was born in 1965 when a local teacher asked if her youngsters could drop by to visit the animals and give the roosters mop-top haircuts.
More than 40 years later, the Keyes are still at it. Over the years, their quest to enrich the education of children with a "low-tech" farm experience has taken shape in Texas, Illinois, and Florida. The owners live right on the Green Meadows acreage with their small village of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and other barnyard citizens. Bob and Coni lead hands-on daily tours for visitors and facilitate pony rides, along with a host of other seasonally varied activities offered 363 days a year.