Located in northern Scott County near Donahue, about half way between Davenport and DeWitt, is Cinnamon Ridge Farms.
Though it is a century farm (a farm that has been in the same family for more than 100 years), the Cinnamon Ridge of today is a modern diversified family owned operation that raises both row crops and livestock. They also operate one of the most cutting-edge dairies in the entire country.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to tour their dairy with a group of young professionals in agriculture.
The owners of Cinnamon Ridge, John and Joan Maxwell and their family, host tours of their dairy and other events, such as an ag summit and a "farm to table" dinner, throughout the year. Thus, thousands of people can be counted as visitors in any given year. In fact, many of their visitors are from foreign countries.
This particular dairy is completely robotic and their Jersey cows are housed in comfortable state of the art facilities.
The cows have access to the robotic milkers on a 24/7 basis. While the robot milkers are expensive, they eliminate the need for additional and oftentimes costly labor. The machines produce real-time data on the herd and individual cows that can be useful for ensuring proper care and nutrition.
Incidentally, Lely is an international company though they have a North American operation that is based in Pella.
As a result, Cinnamon Ridge is one of the leading dairies in the country and they are home to some of the best Jersey genetics in the world.
Even if you do not stop to tour the farm, you can stop at the country store that they operate at the end of their driveway.
It is unique in that there is no store keeper there behind a cash register. Instead, you are on your honor to pay for the goods you wish to purchase. There is a slot where you put your money and it is removed daily.
There is whole wall of money from all over the world that has been used by visitors to buy their farm fresh goods.
There is video surveillance on the premises so you will not be able to hide if you do decide to attempt to cheat their "on your honor" system.
From baked goods and fresh eggs to canned products and frozen meat, you can find a lot of wholesome local food to feed your family at their quaint little country store.
I threw in my $3.00 for some of these delicious monster cookies. They were quite good!
If you have a group that is interested in touring Cinnamon Ridge or have questions about their other events throughout the year, they have much more information about that on the website.
If you have never been on a modern farm or have never seen a robotic dairy milker, this is quite the worthwhile experience. Not to mention, the Maxwells are extraordinarily knowledgeable, entertaining, and interesting. They pride themselves on doing their part to bridge the educational gap between today's farms and the global consumers who are increasingly less connected to where their food originates.