Organic Corn Maze Proves a Labor of Love for Its Owners
by KRISTEN ARMSTRONG, Staff Writer
|Going green seems to be the “in” thing to
do these days, but some people, like Kate and Hub Knott, owners of the
Circle of Seeds organic corn maze in The Plains, have been
environmentally conscious for years.
“It's a lifestyle we always lived,” Kate Knott said in a recent interview. “We can't imagine spraying poison that does harm to the water, insects and ourselves. To us, there was no other option.”
But it was not a particularly easy option, when the Knott family started growing their maze in 2000.
Out of town, teaching at a summer camp for the beginning of that summer, the couple came back to a field covered with 10-foot-tall corn plants. They hand-cut the maze with machetes, following a design divided into 25-square-foot sections.
For four summers, the couple worked 12- to 14-hour days in 90-degree heat, six days a week, using the same basic method.
But those days are over. The couple now hires a man who uses global-positioning technology and a tractor tiller. He usually gets the job done in less than a day.
This year, there was some worry that there would be no field to till, because of the drought, but the couple is happy with their crop, and opened their horse-shaped maze (called “Horsin' Around”) to the public in late September.
Past maze designs have included a turtle, a monarch butterfly and an eagle, among others.
Covering an area of about five acres, the maze takes approximately one hour to get through. Visitors are given a “stalk-talk” before heading out to find their way to the center.
Everyone is given a game board with trivia questions, which, if answered correctly, lead maze explorers in the right direction.
And if anyone gets lost on the way, a “corn cop” is always on the look-out, ready to make a rescue.
With thousands of visitors each weekend, corn cop Aaron Sampri said he easily walks about 15 miles each day he's on duty.
And if finding your way through the maze during daylight isn't enough of a challenge, starting on Oct. 13, Circle of Seeds will be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 10 p.m. for the “Moonlit Maze.”
Other features for visitors are hayrides, pumpkins to purchase, organic burgers, roasted corn and goodies like apple butter and pumpkin pie fudge from Kate's Country Store.
Happy with the size of the farm and busy running nature programs in Charlottesville, the couple doesn't have immediate plans to expand Circle of Seeds.
They do hope, however, to continue “touching families lives and helping them build traditions,” Kate Knott said.
“We've grown from the roots up, doing it ourselves and putting everything we have into it,” she said. “That's what makes it special. It's an extension of our living room.”
For more information on Circle of Seeds, visit the Web site at www.circleofseeds.com, or call (540) 456-7339.