- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Lynn Moore, president of Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Md., says her 285-acre business started slowly, as many family businesses do.

When her family started selling produce in 1973, 13 years after her father bought the property, only strawberries were sold. Over the years, the Moores added other fruits and vegetables, and about 10 years ago they started building a hay maze for children in the fall.

Now Larriland Farm has two mazes to explore the hay maze, which improves every year as the Moore family gets better at building it, and a "living maze," the Moores' name for a massive maze cut into a field of cornstalks.

For children who want an even bigger maze challenge, there's the new 5-acre cornfield maze at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park in Leesburg, Va. This weekend, the park will turn the labyrinth into a "haunted maze," although parents should note that the haunted version probably isn't appropriate for younger children.

At Larriland Farm, the mazes are just two of the attractions for children. Hayrides, held every weekend, take youngsters through a patch of woods and past scarecrows, pumpkin-headed figures from American history, Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.

At the end of the hayride, signs posted on the side of the trail ask children questions about farming, such as why some green beans grow straight and others are curled and how many ears of corn are supplied by each cornstalk.

October is Larriland's busiest month by far. Ms. Moore says October is to her what the Christmas season is to retail stores. "If we have a good October," she says, "we've had a good year. The rest of the year is spent paying the bills."

The farm closes after the first weekend in November and reopens Dec. 1 for customers to cut their own Christmas trees. The farm closes again for the winter and reopens in May for strawberry season. Berry pickers also can pick their own cherries, raspberries (red, black and purple), blueberries, peaches and thornless blackberries throughout the summer.

During the fall, corn, cantaloupes, tomatoes, spinach and pumpkins are available for picking, as well as numerous varieties of apples.

Larriland Farm not only allows customers to pick their own produce, but actively encourages it by selling canning supplies and furnishing recipes. It's a philosophy the family has held since it started business in the 1970s.

"It's a very, very different type of lifestyle," Ms. Moore says. "The month of August is our busiest month for harvesting, and October is our busiest month for customers. But once you get used to the schedule and know that everything hinges on your crops and ultimately the weather, you get used to it. We're learning all the time."

The maze at Temple Hall Farm is part of a program started in 1996 by Brett Herbst, an agribusiness graduate and entrepreneur from Brigham Young University in Utah. He built his first cornfield maze that year in American Fork, Utah, and he says it drew more than 18,000 visitors in just three weeks. This year, Mr. Herbst's company, MAiZE, has cornfield mazes in more than 25 cities in the United States and Canada.

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