Back in 1941, Ray and Thora Schnepf started a family farm that was destined to become unique contribution to family farming and entertainment. Originally, this was just a typical Arizona farm. The farming worked out well for the couple - so well, in fact, that Ray eventually built a small roadside canopy where he could sell their excess crop and make a little extra money. His venture was more successful than he'd ever imagined. By the early 90s, he'd opened more than 200 acres of the farm for u-pick business, and that was just a start.
At the same time, Mark Schnepf, Thora and Ray's son, began to be concerned that their little town would be annexed by the larger town of Gilbert. To prevent that from happening, he and a group of friends began the process of incorporating Queen Creek into its own town. In 1989, the town was officially incorporated and Mark began adding attractions to keep families at the farm longer and provide entertainment for them while they were there. Starting with a small train, a carousel and a petting barn, Mark gradually started turning the farm into an agri-tourism business.
Today, the family farm that started in a one room shack with a wooden canopy on the side of the road is a full-blown amusement park with the rides hidden away so that they don't destroy the image of the family farm for those who want to simply enjoy the farm atmosphere. Along with rides, guests can still pick their own fruits and vegetables. There are 7 acres of organic gardens, where guests can find turnips, carrots, cabbage, squash, broccoli, baby carrots, apples, and more. The selection varies according to the season, and by far the most popular fruit at the farm is the peach. They're the largest peach grower in the state, and the farm also offers guests the chance to lease a peach tree for the season.
The Farmhouse Restaurant serves meals and hosts wedding receptions and parties, and the farm holds festivals three times a year, in October, December and May. They also offer fine dining with guest chefs in the orchard four times every year.
In 2006, Governor Janet Napolitano and the state Office of Tourism declared the Schnepf Farm as an Arizona Treasure. The Schnepf Farm also offers farm tours for visitors and schoolchildren from around the state. The original farmhouse is now the Farmhouse Museum, and the new Farmhouse Restaurant is available for events, and for meals by reservation. Children and families can enjoy a variety of carnival rides on their visit to the farm, and special events bring guest chefs and gourmets out to the orchard for dinners. There's also a historic water tower, as a sweets shop and bakery on the farm.
Hours for the farm vary with the season and events. They're open for festivals, parties, school field trips, and more. Admission prices depend on the event and season. For more information, visit the web site or contact the Schnepf Farm at 480-987-3100.
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