CARY — For many, fall is a time of crunching leaves, pumpkin patches, apple cider – and sprawling corn mazes.
As the leaves begin to change and everyone adds an extra layer of clothing, David and Beth Ferrell brace themselves for busy weeks ahead. The Cary residents own Green Acres, which features one of the largest corn mazes in the area.
Four generations of Ferrell farmers have grown crops such as tobacco, corn, wheat and soybeans on the farm off Morrisville Carpenter Road. Now the family raises cows on the land and runs a Christmas tree farm, in addition to the corn maze.
For now, the Ferrells are focused on the corn maze, which spans 10 acres on the farm. The maze opened in mid-September and will remain open through October.
David Ferrell talks about what it takes to run a successful corn maze:
Q: When do you start planning for the corn maze? What goes into the planning process?
A: We start planning for the next year when we close in November. We start setting up vendors, soliciting sponsors, seeing what worked and what didn’t work and getting employees lined up.
Q: Corn mazes are a popular attraction every fall. Why do you think people like them so much?
A: I think people get tired of subdivision life and want to get back to nature.
Q: Has anyone ever gotten lost in the maze?
A: Oh yes, they have. Within a couple minutes we’re able to get them out, though.
Q: Your corn maze has featured different designs over the years. How do you pick the design?
A: We brainstorm among ourselves. (The family collaborates with a graphic-design artist.)
Q: Then who carries out the design and cuts down the corn stalks?
A: Me, my wife, and my partner, Craig Hillaird, go in every year to make the design .
Q: Cary has grown so much, and a lot of farmland has turned into residential and commercial development. Why is it important to you to keep this piece of land?
A: It’s been in our family since 1819. My grandpa even built his home here in 1900. We know you’ve got to face reality; we know there’s a point where it doesn’t fiscally make sense to keep it. We don’t know when that is, but for now it’s ours.