Sisters open fall family experience, Hidden Rivers Farm
By Jesi Livingston
For the Enquirer
Abigail and Mary-Sidney Ritch grew up on a farm between Hartselle and Danville, off of Vaughn Bridge Road. This year they have decided to share their farm experience with the community, opening Hidden Rivers Farm as a fun fall experience.
“We gathered eggs, fed chickens, herded cows, attempted to herd pigs – which is near impossible, by the way – and every other job that needed to be done,” said Mary-Sidney in recounting their old-fashioned farming childhood. It’s experiences like those the two sisters hope to share with the public.
Mary-Sidney said they both have put in countless hours to get the farm operating effectively and safely by mid-September to open it up to guests.
Hidden Rivers Farm is as unique as the meaning behind its name. Two known rivers run under the Ritches‘ farm and feed out near a shoot-off of Flint Creek. “When our guests come out to spend the day playing, they will be playing on top of an actual hidden river,” Abigail said.
Hidden Rivers Farm has partnered with several community groups to get the site up and running this fall. TDI Services, the National League of Junior Cotillions and Dancers Inc. are among the partnering businesses and organizations that have played a role.
“The support we’ve received from the community, and the excitement from our guests, has been overwhelming and inspiring,” Mary-Sidney said. “Our community has offered us help in countless ways without even a second thought. It has been a constant reminder of how proud we are to be Alabamians.”
The farm will offer several family-friendly activities, such as feeding farm animals, a pony ride, a playground that looks like a toy train, a small concession stand, a tailgate tent for football lovers, a pumpkin patch, different food vendors and a Sweet Home Alabama corn maze – an aerial view reveals that the maze spells out the title of the Lynard Skynard hit that has become an unofficial state anthem.
“The corn maze was certainly one of our biggest learning experiences this year,” Mary–Sidney said. “We had to find creative ways to grow a large–scale crop for the first time without investing the money we didn’t have into new equipment.”
Abigail said they were very fortunate and grateful for the help TDI Services offered in the process of creating the corn maze.
“We provide maps with markers along the path for those destination–based adventurers, which can also be ignored by those who would prefer to wander,” Mary–Sidney added.
Abigail said they are beyond excited to experience the joy of their guests as they visit this unique local attraction – “for laughter to be the sound echoing across to neighboring farms, for cheeks that ache from smiling, for tousled hair from a day of hard play, for sun-kissed faces and dirty hands from being in the best place in the world: outside.”
Hidden Rivers Farm has a capacity of 1,200 guests this season, in keeping with COVID-19 social distancing mandates.
This year, the farm will be open Sept. 18 through Nov. 1. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the farm will be held Sept. 16.
The Ritch sisters said they are hopeful for the opportunity to grow and expand their farm into a year-round agritourism destination that provides good jobs, community improvement and wholesome family fun.
Learn more at https://www.hiddenriversfarm.com/ or @hiddenriversfarm on social media.