Create your own corn maze!
As drought, severe weather and several economic factors affect agriculture across the country, farmers have been actively seeking alternative ways to monetize their farm and land, and this has certainly facilitated the rise of agritourism in the United States in recent years. Agritourism can help to diversify income and allow for increased revenues without having to acquire additional land. It also provides farmers with a platform to educate the public on issues that are important to them, whether it’s utilizing environmentally friendly growing practices, the importance of local farming or political issues affecting agriculture. Best of all, the popularity of agritourism has shown no signs of waning.
For farms looking to travel down the agritourism path, there are three basic factors that all farms, no matter what type they are, need: something to see, something to do and something to buy. The natural beauty of a farm provides something to see, and all farms produces some kind of good that tourists can buy, but what about something to do? Sure, an orchard can provide apple picking, but many farms don’t have this – or a similar – option.
Well for farms that produce corn, there is an option that can provide hours of entertainment and a large stream of additional revenue. The corn maze is a perfect way to delve into agritourism, because it is seasonal and requires no long-term commitment. Preparing and implementing a maze can provide visitors with something to do, and it can be accomplished by following the guidelines below.
Before planting corn and cutting walkways, it is important to determine whether or not the means to run a successful corn maze even exist. There are some preexisting property requirements that will have to be addressed. Farms will need to have the ability to park plenty of cars and public access to restrooms, and, of course, everyone should find out if the local authorities will even permit corn mazes. There is a possibility that permits or licenses will have to be obtained, and there is a very good chance that insurance policies will have to be updated or a new policy taken out.
After checking off these basic needs, it’s time to start thinking about the business itself. Determine how much money needs to be made in a season to make a corn maze worthwhile and how many visitors it will take to make this determined amount. Don’t forget that some extra staffing will most likely be necessary, so take into account how much this will cost. There are plenty of books on agritourism, and corn mazes specifically, and everybody should read at least one – if not more – before starting to put together a corn maze. It is impossible to do too much research, so make sure to check a number of websites, check in with others that have built a corn maze and create a well-developed plan.
There are very few limiting factors on the design of a corn maze – the main one being the amount of land – and a quick search on the internet will yield dozens of incredibly impressive corn mazes. However, for first timers it is important to stick to a design that trends toward the simple side. Besides, once the maze is created, visitors won’t really be able to tell what the design itself is. The design and degree of difficulty will depend on the type of visitors that the farm plans on tending to. For farms that anticipate a younger crowd, a maze that is easy to traverse may be more beneficial, while older visitors will appreciate a harder maze.
Many farms have outside designers design and layout a maze that properly utilizes a specific plot of land. Hiring an experienced designer or a consultant can be an invaluable asset for a first timer, and they can also offer insight into how to best monetize the maze. There are also pre-designed layouts that can help save time and, for those that were considering hiring a designer, money.
After a design has been picked out, it’s time to actually cut the maze. It is easiest to cut the field when the corn stalks are only a few feet high. This allows for a full field of view and prevents the cutter from losing their bearing. Today, cutting a corn maze is easier than ever, and this due to improvements in technology. GPS is one of the best tools for those cutting a corn maze, and there are even programs that are specifically designed for creating corn mazes. These programs use a smartphone’s location services to superimpose the maze design over a map. The program then displays the cutters position on the land, and this turns a once complicated and arduous process into a 21st century tracing exercise.
- Make an interactive environment
The maze has now been created, but before it gets put to use, it’s time to create interactive elements within the maze in order to maximize the visitor experience. Again, utilizing technology can really be an asset, and creating games for visitors to play on their smartphones can help to create an interactive experience. There are programs that allow visitors to scan into checkpoints throughout the maze. These checkpoints encourage visitors to see the entire maze, and rewarding those that find all the checkpoints can leave visitors with a lasting impression. Maze goers can also choose to be timed and compete against previous visitors. Making a board with the best completion times can create excitement and lead to repeat visitors. There are also a number of other activities that can be held outside of the maze, whether it’s face painting or a carnival game, and pretty much anything that gets visitors to spend more time at the farm can have beneficial effects.
Corn mazes provide farmers everywhere with the perfect opportunity to partake in the agritourism boom. Since it is a seasonal activity, it enables farmers to see if agritourism is a revenue-generating endeavor that is right for them without having to commit for years at a time. While it is too late to get a maze up for this year, why not start thinking about next year’s maze? Good luck!