While I've always been aware of local farms, it has been the past four years that I've really become a frequent shopper of local farms and farm markets. From spring through late fall, I tend to purchase most of my produce at farm markets. I just never bothered to visit farms in the winter. When I received an invitation to check out Linvilla Orchards in the winter, I jumped at the opportunity. I had no idea how much fun it could be to visit in February!
The last time I was at Linvilla Orchards, in Media, Pennsylvanian, was at least 7 or 8 years ago with my niece, who turned 9 last week! My sister and her family used to live in Media and introduced us to Linvilla. It sure has changed since I last visited!
There is a new Garden Center that is just a bit over a year old. It is a beautiful building filled with plants, gardening items, and unique gifts. They had a great toy section filled with quality toys. My son loved that part! We picked out a few little plants to buy to restart our terrarium, along with a really cool succulent plant. The building itself is built to be green---energy efficient and environmentally friendly. They use an energy efficient geothermal pump to keep the greenhouse cool in the summer and warm in winter and they collect rainwater to use to water everything they grow on the farm!
Inside the back of Garden Center, until mid-March, is Fore! the planet, an 18 hole mini-golf course. This indoor mini-golf will be available every winter for visitors to enjoy. The course was originally displayed at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and was purchased by Linvilla. For a nominal price families can play a fun round of golf inside a the warmth of the green house while also learning about the environment. From butterfly metamorphosis to recycling, this mini-golf course was interesting to all ages. My kiddo had never played mini-golf before, so he really had fun figuring it all out. We worked on aim and golf stance, but in the end he had fun climbing and chasing the ball around. He even got a hole in one!
Since today's weather was absolutely beautiful, we had a blast enjoying some outdoor fun too. The Christmas Tree Maze is next to the Garden Center. It was created from 1400 recycled Christmas trees leftover from the farm and area tree sales. We got a flag to take around with us in case we got lost, which we did, but thankfully we found our way out after about a half hour! The trees smelled great. The maze was really tough and we went around in circles several times. The kiddo had a blast in the maze and really liked holding the flag.
The last time I had visited Linvilla there were some animals. This time it seemed like the animal area doubled! We saw all varieties of chickens, ducks, swan, a cow, a pig, some sheep, lots of goats and the cutest little donkeys. We fed some chickens and chatted with a goat. The pond was a great swimming hole to the water fowl. I forgot how big the Linvilla property was!
There was also a beautiful playground filled with "transportation vehicles" according to my son. He had a blast playing with the other kids there, pretending to drive a train or a boat or a monster truck. I loved the play castle! Admission to the playground is a dollar. What I really liked about the playground was that instead of a traditional playground filled with teeter totters and swings, this one was filled with climb-on equipment that encouraged imaginative play along with physical activity. There were lots of slides and steps, but also things to feed a child's imagination. My son would have spent the whole day here pretending. There were also plenty of benches for the adults to sit and rest.
We ended our day with a visit to the Farm Market to purchase some treats. We got the requisite cider donuts, that my son remarked were the biggest ones he's had yet! We also picked up a yummy French apple pie for dessert tonight. All winter long the veggies in the market are half price, so we selected some to bring home too, including some great broccoli for our chicken stir fry dinner. I bought some popping corn that is supposed to pop larger than average corn. (Homemade popcorn is a favorite afternoon snack here and super easy to make! Much better than microwaved popcorn.)
When I asked my son tonight what his favorite part of the day was, he replied "all of it!" He excitedly told his daddy all about his day and seemed to really be impressed by the mini-golf and the playground. We are planning to return again soon and not wait for summer to visit. I was really happy to find that visiting the farm/orchard in the winter is just as rewarding as the summertime, even if all the flowers are indoors!
Disclosure: We were invited to spend the day at Linvilla and enjoy the activities for free. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this post. The experiences and opinions expressed here are mine.