Giving Thanks for the Farm

By CHRISTIE LEIGH MUELLER
Copy Editor

Bill and Randi Gallrein.

Bill and Randi Gallrein.

Perhaps the most beautiful drive in Shelbyville, Ky., is down Vigo Road. With tobacco and soybeans lining the road and changing leaves looming in the horizon, the drive only gets better with a right turn into Gallrein Farms through their vast fields spackled with hay bales and eager visitors.  Gallrein Farms isn’t far from home, but upon arrival you’re worlds away from life’s city-dwelling stresses.

Gallrein Farms got its start in the sweet corn business. Beginning as a dairy farm before transitioning to field crops, the sweet corn at Gallrein Farms attracted customers from all over the state. Forced to meet demand, the Gallreins opened a farm market to sell their goods. And they’ve been serving fresh produce, pumpkins and family outdoor fun ever since.

Thousands of people make the drive each season for reasons more than just to see the leaves change colors. Visitors come from across the state to get outside of the city; to enjoy a hayride to the pumpkin patch; to taste a homemade apple cider donut  and to breathe fresh air that changes your day—perhaps even your perspective on life.

The relaxing and refreshing effect that Gallrein has is exactly what Randi and Bill Gallrein, the husband and wife duo behind the farm, wanted to share with their guests. “I was raised on a farm, I don’t know any other life. I just love it.  Bill, was raised on a farm, too. We don’t know anything about city life,” explained Randi Gallrein.

But they do understand a thing or two about showing city-folk what it’s like to get away and learn about the other way of life. “We like to invite people out to the farm to see things they’ve never seen before.”  Randi Gallrein added with detectable pride,  “we had a hayride yesterday who got to see a baby calf being born. It’s scenic.”

Nearly 500 students visit the farm daily during the fall for field trips. Last weekend, there were more people than Randi Gallrein could count, but in her twenty-five years of helping her husband run the farm, she knew it was a record.

With that many students at the farm, the team tries to make an educational trip fun. Often teachers will ask the staff to talk about growing and running a farm. Throughout the property, there are plaques of facts of fun information. Other times, the kids are just there to have a good time and be outside.

But 90 percent of the time, the city kids have never seen some of the farm’s animals. “They’ll ask us ‘what is this?’ as they point to a llama. The other day, a little boy asked us what a chicken was. We thought he was teasing,” Randi Gallrein said with a grin, “that’s why it’s good to get kids out on the farm.”

For decades, the Gallreins have worked tirelessly to make the farm successful by keeping it a working farm and expanding into the retail side of agritourism.  Randi handles the retail side of things by running the new climate-controlled market and bakery on top of coordinating the tours. Bill runs the wholesale side of things and, Bill’s father still works on the crops in the field. Plus, they take their sought after produce into the Beargrass Christian Farmers Market in St. Matthews, as well as farmers markets in Frankfort and LaGrange.

Gallrein Farms, while most notable for their vast pumpkin fields and hayrides, is a multi-seasonal, working farm.

For the fall, they offer delicious homemade fudge and panini sandwiches for an on-location picnic or hot chocolate, apple cider and cupcakes and cookies for sweets to go.  Come April, they have some of the most beautiful fresh flowers in the state. In July it’s the start of their produce market, that rivals any super market in selection, freshness and taste. Wedding season brings bridal parties and elegant receptions to their event pavilion for a rustic-chic atmosphere on a beautiful Kentucky farm.  And September kicks off their fall activities before they close down for some time off on Oct. 31.

Make no mistake about it, Randi Gallrein enjoys her time in a warmer climate after their busy season, but wouldn’t change her life on the farm for anything. It’s really simple, “every day I pull into the drive, I thank God for letting me live like this.”

Gallrein Farms is located at 1029 Vigo Road, Shelbyville, Ky., and may be reached by calling 502.633.4849 or visiting www.GallreinFarms.com.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune