“The goal is to connect people with animals,” said Lee Rankin, owner and farmer. A year-round working farm and agritourism destination, Apple Hill Farm offers a public tour featuring their many animals everyday from mid-May through mid-October – last year they welcomed about 3,000 visitors to the farm.
“We walk all around the farm,” Lee explained. “So people get a chance to see every pen we have animals in, every kind of animal we have, meet all the animals and hear the stories of the rescue animals that have come to us. With animals there are always funny stories of stuff that’s happened.”
“It becomes this experience of an animal farm that connects them,” Lee explained. “And I know it transforms them. You know, it has to.” Many visitors have never been on a farm or had personal interactions with different kinds of animals, Lee said.
“We’ve had people say, ‘You know, I never thought about it but animals do have feelings,’” she recalled. “And they get that, and they see how the animals are this working organism within our farm. Everybody has a job, everybody has a name. … People can’t imagine that we know all the names of the animals, and they all have personalities. So they get to see that first-hand.”
"It becomes this experience of an animal farm that connects them."
“Then people started hearing about it, and they would come up and want to meet this crazy lady up on the hill,” she smiled. As interest from the public continued to grow, they decided to host a daily tour from May-October. “Last year we did 341 tours of the farm,” Lee said. “Which is pretty impressive I think, for a working farm.”
Visitors would be hard-pressed not to be impacted by the love and respect given to the animals living at Apple Hill. “We’re kinda crazy about the way we treat the animals,” Lee said.
The High Country Farm Tour fits in seamlessly with the farm’s visitor-friendly design. “It’s really fun,” Lee said. “The Farm Tour visitors are so supportive. They’re like keep doing what you’re doing, this is fabulous. You know, it’s different.”
Collectively, the Farm Tour highlights a vibrant community of farmers that Lee said is crucial to survival and success. “I really feel like farming is a community activity,” she said. “There are times I feel alone, moments I feel alone, but I really feel like there’s this real community of people here…I couldn’t do this alone.”