Pennsylvania: Agri-travel Galore

As an avid photographer addicted to the breathtaking beauty of environmental landscapes, I offer that the charm of the Pennsylvania agriscape easily parallels the glamour of a Tuscan vineyard bathed in subliminal light or the burnished fields of golden wheat fields in the Palouse (Washington State). The Pennsylvania agriscape is a sensual journey that embraces the five senses: the subjective interpretation is special as well as specialized to each traveler. Therein lies the magic.

Blue Ribbon Passport

Perhaps the best way to experience the Pennsylvania agriscape and the bounty of the land is to follow the Blue Ribbon Passport trail, a gateway to the state’s bounty and agricultural heritage. Log onto to learn more and reap special savings at participating attractions. Three different routes sample fairs, wineries, farm markets, local food, farm stays, and so much more.

Lancaster County: Maizes and More

It’s no secret, but some of the most fertile and best farmland in the country is located right in Lancaster County. The rich carbonate soil, along with a moderate climate and evenly distributed rainfall work together to produce ideal growing conditions for a variety of agricultural enterprises.

Lancaster is ranked number one in agriculture in the state of Pennsylvania, with farms generating over $800 million in food, feed and fiber. About 75 per cent of farm income is based on livestock, poultry and products like milk, while producing crops include corn, wheat, oats, hay tobacco, and vegetables.

The Amazing Maize Maze

My first stop is at Cherry-Crest Farm, where I wander through towering cornfields of six-foot corn stalks in the intricately and deceptively carved “Amazing Maize Maze.” For this year’s theme, I become a secret agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). My mission? To find “The Missing Pyramid,” and along the way to discover steps toward a healthier me. The Discovery Channel calls it the, “World's Biggest Free Standing Mind Bender...” I call it educational, entertaining, family-friendly, and just down right fun.

My friends and I wander the maize, searching for clues as we attempt to solve the riddles that lead us through the maize. In case we lose our way, sentries are posted on looming platforms that overlook the corn field, to ensure safe journey through and out of the maize-maze. Surprisingly, I discover there are refreshment stands as well as bathroom breaks along the way.

One of the best mazes in the country, Jack Coleman of Cherry Crest admits, “This is the largest attended maze in the country and we strive for the best by introducing something new every year.” For this year, it is their new fudge shop which I unabashedly decide to sample. With an assortment of flavors akin to Baskin & Robbins 31 flavors, the six that I sample are all delicious. My recommendation? Go with the peanut butter chocolate. Other delights include cappuccino and raspberry chocolate — a favorite for Valentine’s Day.

With my fudge potion for energy, I embark on my journey to better health, and meet success many hours later. After a morning of navigating my way through the maize-maze, however, mostly in a daze, it’s time to take a luncheon respite at Hershey Farm Restaurant, a Pennsylvania Dutch Family Restaurant that serves over 100 items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A bakery on the premises ensures the freshest in local breads and dessert delicacies. This is a great way to sample some of local favorites such as shoofly pie, whoopie pie, and so much more.

From Cow-to-Cone: the Kreider Farm Tour

For the next 90 minutes, I will be escorted on a state-of-the-art technology tour of Kreider Farms. The tour is a “Cow-to-Cone” exhibition that essentially educates while it entertains guests on the basics of milk production. Questions such as “How much milk do Kreider cows produce each day?” and, “Why do cows wear earrings and bracelets?” are answered in entertaining ways. Do you know how many stomachs a cow has, how often cows prefer to be milked, or how much food a cow will eat in a day? Or, as many urban children naively ask, “Do brown cows produce chocolate milk?” If the least bit interested in how your food chain is built, then, this tour through the cow palace and the stainless steel milking carousel is for you.

A sweet treat awaits guests at tour’s end, with delectable flavor selections from a flavorful assortment of homemade ice creams. After all, ice cream is one of many by-products of milk! This is a top-notch family-friendly activity that helps connect people with the source of their food.

I plan a dinner stop and evening affair at the Schuylkill County Fair, a classic example of a small town, community fair. With more than 1500 livestock and poultry exhibits, auctions, antique tractors and gas engines as well as a midway with rides and games, my dance card is full. Live country and bluegrass bands boom in the background while I check out the two-headed calf and turn-of-the-century farming tools and inventions at the Schuykill County Agricultural Museum with my hosts from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Then it’s time to roam for dinner. With so many flavor fests to choose from such as fried Oreos, apple dumplings, cheese steaks, and the American staple — BBQ, I graze from food booth to food booth, savoring the local flavors and regional foods.

Berry Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn

I arrive for the night at the Berry Patch B&B in Lebanon, a newly-built log home on 20 acres of secluded farm charm. Close to both Lancaster County and Hersheypark, its convenience is equaled only by the grace of Bunny, my hostess of many talents and her well-mannered granddaughter, Ciara. The spacious barn-style home is filled with country charm and trinkets — every corner revels in nostalgia and hidden stories waiting to be told.

Though my stay is brief, Bunny greets me the next morning with a bountiful breakfast of Russian oatmeal, eggs of my choosing, strawberry, blueberry and peach muffins, and a medley of fresh fruit that easily carries me through the morning. As I converse with contented repeat guests, I notice the display of gourmet dressings, marinades, and BBQ sauces that Bunny produces for Berry Patch Products (

An accredited pastry chef, Bunny is one of those cooks who just have a knack for creating wonderful products based on old family recipes. With a penchant for berries, Bunny is particularly known for her House Dressing, perfect as a dip, dressing or marinade. My teens particularly enjoy it with Chinese egg rolls!

Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Embracing its agricultural heritage, Pennsylvania Dutch country is known for rich soils, bountiful produce, and cultural foods that include such specialties as whoopee pie, shoofly pie, chicken pie, and chow chow. No visit to Pennsylvania is complete until you have tasted these local delicacies. One of the best places to sample some of the local products is a visit to Intercourse Canning Company. Here you can savor the flavors and homemade tastes of pickled vegetables, salsas, jams and jellies. Purchase what you like, mail-order, or order over the Internet.

Or visit Eli and Mary Glick, third generation Amish owners of Glick’s Food & Crafts at Bird-in-Hand. Here you visit an authentic working farm and can see an Amish buggy up close. Using an old-fashioned oven, Glick’s turns out whoopee pies of assorted flavors — some say the best anywhere — as well as cookies and all types of pies. Shop for handmade quilts and a variety of other locally handcrafted gifts.

Farm auctions are the big event after Valentine’s Day and are appropriately dubbed “mud sales” because of the slushy ground conditions after emerging from winter’s freeze. Amid the mud and mire are thousands of people who travel to quiet country villages in search of handicrafts, farm equipment, and bargains.

For a really unique dining experience, save a date for Bube’s Brewery. A National Register and Historic Site, this is an intact 19th century brewery complex that functions as a museum, art gallery, and offers three restaurants and evening entertainment. From murder mysteries to dining 43 feet below in the stone-lined Catacombs, surround yourself with a total immersion experience that is both tasty and entertaining.

“Lux” in Bucks

During my time in Bucks County, I opt for both culture and luxury. I overnight at the elegant Barley Sheaf Farm Estate & Spa, a restored manor house, cottage, and barn that features whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, full body steam showers, flat-screen TVs, and a fully stocked courtesy wet bar. My room décor is custom decorated with theatrical elegance and style; proving that connecting with the land doesn’t translate into having to necessarily go Spartan.

The estate is surrounded by 100-acre pasture with sheep, pigs, and miniature horses. A long tree-lined entrance effectively shields the country estate from town traffic, adding to the feel of secluded country luxury. Once the home of playwright George S. Kaufman, the Barley Sheaf Farm Estate now attracts a potpourri of executives and professionals on retreat as well as creative artisans who are looking for inspiration.

As Bucks County is known for being agricultural and historic, the “Fruits of Our Labor Heritage Tourism Trail” brings together a partnership of heritage, culture, nature, and agriculture for the traveler to experience. Some of the places included are the James A. Michener Art Museum, Mercer Museum, and Fonthill Museum.

From the finest collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings at the Michener Museum to the eccentric concrete castle of Mercer at Fontill and his prolific collection of tools, artifacts, and early American crafts housed in the Mercer Museum, you will want to save at least a day to explore these treasures.

Dining is an event of its own, as there are a multitude of casual and fine-dining choices abounding in New Hope and throughout Bucks County. For a Four-Diamond AAA culinary experience — the only in Bucks County — book reservations at The Mansion Inn. Specializing in seafood with a continental flair, the menu is surprisingly affordable. Expect exquisite service.

Triumph Brewing Company, a micro brewery, features eclectic contemporary American food and offers a selection of handcrafted brewed beer on the premises. Chambers 19 Bistro & Bar is a local favorite for good friends and great food.

See Bucks County from the seat of an antique coach, by taking a 50-minute narrated train ride on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad. Then, move on to the Peddler’s Village, where landscaped gardens vie with country village shopping. Overnight at The Golden Plough Inn at Peddler’s Village for luxury and comfort with complimentary champagne and soft beverages.

100 Years of Chocolate Kisses

If you have extra time, don’t miss Hersheypark — the sweetest place on Earth. With their upcoming 100th year celebration for the summer of 2007, a visit is sure to be loaded with all types of special surprises! Even the United States Post Office is commemorating the event. They recently issued “Love and Kisses,” a 39-cent postage stamp adorned with the image of a Hershey’s chocolate kiss. A sweet way to end a sweet journey.


Pennsylvania Tourism Office
1-800-VISIT-PA (847-4872)

Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
(717) 787-5342

PA Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau
(717) 299-8901 or 1-800-PA-DUTCH

Bucks County Conference & Visitors Bureau
1-800-836-BUCKS or (215) 639-0300

Blue Ribbon Passport


Cherry-Crest Farm & “The Amazing Maize Maze”
150 Cherry Hill Road
Ronks, PA 17572
(717) 687-6843

Kreider Farm Tour
1461 Lancaster Road
Manheim, PA
(717) 665-5039

Intercourse Canning Company
P.O. Box 541
3612 E. Newport Road
Intercourse, PA 17534
(717) 768-0156

Glick’s Food & Crafts
248 Monterey Road
Bird-in-Hand, PA
(717) 656-1343

New Hope & Ivyland Railroad
32 West Bridge Street
New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-2332

Peddler’s Village
Lahaska, PA 18931

100 W. Hersheypark Drive
Hershey, PA 17033


James A. Michener Art Museum
138 South Pine Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
(215) 340-9800

Mercer Museum
84 South Pine Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
(215) 345-0210

Fonthill Museum
East Court Street & Route 313
Doylestown, PA 18901
(215) 348-9461


Hershey Farm Restaurant
240 Hartman Bridge Road
Ronks, PA
(717) 687-8635

Bube’s Brewery
102 North Market Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552-1306
(717) 653-2056

The Mansion Inn
9 South Main Street
New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-1231

Triumph Brewing Company
400 Union Square
New Hope, PA 18938
(215) 862-8300

Chambers 19 Bistro & Bar
19 North Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
(215) 348-1940
Doylestown, PA


Berry Patch Bed & Breakfast
115 Moore Road
Lebanon, PA 17046
(717) 865-7219

Barley Sheaf Farm Estate & Spa
5281 Old York Road
Holicong, PA 18928
(215) 794-5104

The Golden Plough Inn at Peddler’s Village
Route 202 & Street Road
Lahaska, PA 18931
(215) 794-4004

Courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service

The State of Independence boasts some of the most fertile, productive soil on the planet, no it's no wonder that agriculture is one of our most important pursuits.

A great deal of Pennsylvania is farmland… But if you immediately think of a red barn and a handful of cows, you need to get a new perspective!

Pennsylvania agriculture today means fruit orchards, wineries, llamas, goats, organic produce — even ostriches and buffalo!

Yes, you'll still see shiny new farm machinery the size of dinosaurs, or maybe an Amish farmer plowing with a team of determined horses, but there's much more — and all you have to do is explore. One of the best ways is on an agritourism road trip.

(From a Pennsylvania Tourism Brochure)


Agri-travel and More in Pennsylvania Dutch Country
by Karin Leperi

With verdant pastoral pastures of spring and summer turning to endless fields of golden grains in the fall, the rural landscape of Pennsylvania, in particular — the agriscape — is a common scene of uncommon beauty. A pleasing combination of design, color, shape and texture converge geometrically to produce visually aesthetic panoramic scenes that comfort the soul while providing sustenance for the body.

Photographs copyright of Karin Leperi