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.