Fall is in the air at Minnetonka Orchards, where a corn maze is just the beginning of the autumnal adventures that await kids and families. After navigating the twists and turns of the maze, guests can wander through the apple orchard to pick a fresh juicy globe or marvel at how weird bugs look. Visitors can also shop for jams, apples, and other farm fare at the barn, or go on a leisurely stroll on one of the walking trails. Kids' entertainment comes by way of the climbable hay mountain, the corn crib slide, and barnyard friends including goats, sheep, and bunnies.
Acres of grass paddocks ripple in the wind around the large indoor and outdoor riding arenas at Wild Oak Farm, where owner Renee Lenkart works to help students to improve their riding abilities and develop a bond with equines. As hooves clop out a staccato rhythm against the sun-soaked red soil, Renee calls upon years of experience crafting lessons for both beginner and advanced students. She has also spent time training and showing hunters and jumpers, and many of her students have gone on to participate in national competitions or yelling matches at grocery stores with no-horse policies.
Lifelong horse enthusiast and renowned equestrian Judy Jensen oversees a seasoned crew at Centre Pointe Stables, a year-round facility that provides training, boarding, and lessons on American Saddlebred horses. Judy and the stable’s instructors make sure lessons progress at each student’s desired pace, never pressuring the student to perform beyond his or her capabilities or adopt the horse as a foster child. Geared toward teaching riders of all ages and abilities new skills, the lessons can be taken year-round thanks to a heated indoor arena complete with a fireplace to warm spectators.
The staff at The Mustard Seed are all Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association-certified professionals driven by a love for everything that grows on the earth. At their garden center facility, they maintain hundreds of plants in several greenhouses and on more than 12 acres of property. Evergreen and deciduous trees, annuals and perennials, and exotic shrubs add color and vibrancy to home landscaping. The center's koi fish are perfect for populating water features or befriending people who never leave the swimming pool. The Mustard Seed also keeps children entertained with a play area and a petting zoo that's home to donkeys and pygmy goats, among other friendly creatures.
Knowing that an attractive garden doesn't always grow itself, The Mustard Seed's landscaping team travels to nearby locations to install completely customized landscaping layouts. The design team specializes in striking a balance between beauty and function with projects such as perennial or water gardens, patios, and decks. The installation team can execute design plans in phases or all at once.
In 1874, English immigrants John and Eliza Ames saddled their percheron draft horses and ventured westward from the Atlantic shore. They settled a plot on the Minnesota countryside and their horses grew strong there, roaming 500 acres of grassy fields. Today, the Ames family continues to care for the breed at Cedar Ridge Arabians, Inc., leading many of their full- and half-arabian horses to class A competitions and earning the Breeder of the Year designation from the Arabian Professional & Amateur Horseman's Association in 2011. In addition to raising horses, the trainers guide riding students with lessons that include tacking, untacking, cooling down, and selecting suitable bedtime stories for each horse.
Few people can say they started in their profession as a teenager. Jacob Servais of Pine Ridge Landscaping & Tree Services is one of those few: he interned at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center when he was just 14 years old, when most kids are just climbing trees or dismembering them for slingshot parts. The passion he discovered in that internship led him to give landscaping a shot as a career, and, in turn, to venture out on his own as an entrepreneur.
From the company's founding in 2006 onward, Jacob and wife Jennifer have run their landscaping outfit as a full-service company, complete with two crews of specialists in landscaping and tree handling. Homeowners can look to the landscapers for jobs that span their outdoor property and the seasons, from installation of trees for an envisioned landscape to removal of snow from driveways and sidewalks in the wintertime.