In addition to harvesting 300 acres of vegetables, the family behind Black Island Farms strives to succeed in the "agri-tainment" business. To this end, they host field trips and autumnal visits, proving that rural living is far from monotonous. Their courtyard houses more than 20 attractions for families—there's a mountain of straw, a bounce house, and even pig races. Four tractors rumble as they tow hay wagons around the estate and cross into the pumpkin patch. There, passengers disembark and pick out a complimentary pumpkin, choosing by touch or by noting which one moves when they shout "Here, boy!"
Carrots, onions, cabbage, and squash all grow on the farm, but corn often takes the spotlight. That's because in the fall, 26 acres of cornfield transform into multiple mazes called Cornfield MAiZE. The mazes have twists and turns that are appropriate for a wide range of age groups, and when Halloween rolls around, a haunted variant also appears as part of Nightmare Acres.
Shafts of sunlight pierce Tracy Aviary’s dense conifer forest, sending great grey owls into hiding until nightfall, when they emerge to hunt silently above the treetops. The Owl Forest is just one of five diverse ecosystems that dot the aviary’s eight acres. Nearby, at the South American Pavilion, aviary keepers tend to keel-billed toucans as their colorful beaks break through the cereal boxes in which they incubate. And on the Kennecott Wetland, visitors can espy long-billed curlews and American coots roosting in the tall grass.
In addition to providing a diverse habitat in which native and endangered species can thrive, Tracy Aviary’s curators strive to educate visitors about threats to avian species and to encourage stewardship. To that end, the aviary frequently hosts bird encounters, small group talks with avian keepers, and even the opportunity to feed various species.
For more than 35 years, Cactus & Tropicals has livened up sparse plots and reinvigorated depressed patios with a vast, verdant variety of cacti, flowers, and gardening gear. Focusing as much on sprouting seeds as fostering field creativity, the lush storefront boasts an elaborate display area showcasing high-end floral fashions. Winding catwalks guide buyers through crowds of leafy house plants ($3.95+), annuals ($1.79+), and a colorful gathering of orchids culled from around the globe ($16+). Growers with a history of prickly relationships with plants can learn how to care for a cacti garden ($1.95+ each), get paired up with an easy-to-please perennial ($4.29+), or adopt a well-behaved bonsai guaranteed to sit still during fussy grooming sessions.
The techs at Specialized Pest Control erect bug barriers throughout customers' homes to ward off unwanted creepy-crawlies. In the insect treatment, entry points such as windows, doors, and vents are treated with a spray designed to ward off spiders, earwigs, flies, mosquitoes, neighborhood bullies, pavement ants, and wasps. A spray of the home's entire foundation further works to evict invertebrate roommates. If homeowners prefer, techs can target thresholds that lead inside the house, or the team can head indoors to put an end to extended flea circuses and grasshopper music festivals. Specialized Pest Control's bug blockers consider safety as their top priority, applying all pesticides carefully so as not to harm residents or the environment.
Vista Farms’ equestrian experts edify saddled-up students ages 5 years and older on the basics of horse handling. At a private, one-hour lesson (a $35 value), mounties can bring their own horse or ride 1 of up to 10 on-site horses, building a new relationship through relaxed strolls and trading favorite novels. Head trainer Lisa Park focuses on building trust between horse and rider, providing a rundown of natural horsemanship skills and national-level showing techniques, and getting maximum height and distance out of built-in ejector saddles.
The techs at Utah Lawn know that a healthy, green yard can sometimes come at the expense of the environment and homeowners’ pocketbooks. To help minimize those expenses, they inject Enviromoist’s polymer-based substance into root systems, which distributes nourishing plant food while creating a semipermeable barrier that prevents water and vital nutrients from leaching away. Not only does the product help to cut water waste by up to 50%, it also helps pare down water bills, and can even help reduce soil compaction and the maintenance required to keep a lawn looking verdant.
Beyond root health, the landscaping specialists offer a wide range of lawn-care services and solutions, such as underground sprinkler systems that covertly distribute water to thirsty grass blades. When not nourishing plots, techs stay busy making them more beautiful by building water fixtures such as ponds, streams, and waterfalls. Instead of packing up for the winter, specialists strap on snow boots and continue to keep yards tidy by removing snow clumps and slick sheets of ice, helping cut down on the number of slips and falls experienced by homeowners, visitors, and any hibernating bears prone to walking in their sleep.