Deal's Orchard just outside of Jefferson in Greene County recently became a Century Farm and this multi-generational farming operation welcomes waves of agri-tourists and families year-a-round, but especially in the fall.
They are one of the largest apple orchards in the state (with approximately 25 types of apples), sell both regular and hard cider, have Christmas trees, a country store, kid-friendly attractions on the farm, and even an annual corn maze. They have a website with an extensive list of their offerings. It's quite impressive! While the country store is open more regularly throughout the year, their main "busy season" is in the fall.
However, with RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) rolling into Jefferson this week, the Deal's are opening up their corn maze a bit early for the public and riders to enjoy...for one day only. That day is TODAY.
They'll be offering free admission to the maze, will serve hard cider, have live music, and offer some seasonal produce and snacks, too.
While I won't get up to Jefferson tomorrow to enjoy the maze, a couple of friends and I did stop out at their country store last weekend. The country store has a nice selection of all kinds of items - from seasonal produce and hard cider to other food items and an array of decor.
Even though their busy season is the fall, the work never really stops on a farm. There is always something that needs to be done and there were many family members busy working on all kinds of projects. My friends and I got a brief tour from Chris Deal, a friend of my friends, and one of the members of the next generation of family members stepping up to run things. Incidentally, early in my years at Iowa State University, Chris Deal was the student body president.
To consumers in Central Iowa, Deal's Cider is a regular staple at grocery stores and other retailers while in season. In recent years, they started producing hard cider and have created several different flavors. Chris was kind enough to let us sample a couple different flavors. All were quite delicious and will be popular with the thirsty riders, I predict.
They sell bottled hard cider in the store but it's also now making it's way into tap rooms and restaurants.
Chris showed us some of their storage areas and other production facilities. In a few months, the place will be alive with activity and employees but in mid-July, it was definitely a lot more quiet.
We did not wander out too much among the grounds, but I saw a few of the kid-friendly areas that will be popular this fall.
As I mentioned, they also have Christmas Trees for sale.
Deal's Orchard is a few miles out of Jefferson so this will be a great stop for riders as they enter town. However, it's a great stop for Iowans throughout the year. I hope to stop back when things are "more in season" but it was a fun visit.
I would encourage you to check out their Facebook page and website to read more about this terrific family operation in Greene County. If you don't stop out today for some hard cider and maze wandering, be sure to stop out this fall for some great agri-tainment.