7 Field Trip Ideas In Erie, PA

Planning and preparing for your school’s next field trip can be challenging, but Port Farms, your go-to location for educational field trips, is making it easier! From exploring state parks and museums to visiting farms and zoos, we’ve listed seven locations you can check out for your next field trip in Erie, PA!

1. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum

Located in the historic cultural district of downtown Erie, Erie’s expERIEnce Children’s Museum is an excellent place for kindergarten to five grade students to explore and develop their creative sides. The museum is packed with a myriad of activities that will keep the children engaged in learning and thoroughly entertained.

The museum has four floors to explore: the Explore Floor, Imagination Floor, the outdoor Discovery Corner, and the Ronald McDonald House Charities Creativity Floor. They also have a whopping 50 activities for your students. Investigate artifacts, study cave drawings, play doctor, and even learn about air pressure and wind resistance.

Tom Ridge Environmental Center
Photo courtesy of the TREC Foundation.

2. Presque Isle State Park/Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) holds several education programs and opportunities for those of all ages, such as (the):

  • DiscoverE Program
  • Pennsylvania Envirothon
  • Think Outside Program
  • Pennsylvania Project Learning Tree
  • Wildlife Education
  • Water Education
  • Geology Education
  • Recreational Skills
  • Land Conservation and Stewardship

Presque Isle State Park, part of the DCNR, is a 3,200-acre peninsula and National Natural Landmark. The size of the park allows for many of the state’s endangered, threatened, and rare species to thrive, which, in turn, presents a myriad of observation and learning opportunities! Specifically, Presque Isle State Park hosts hands-on activities, guided walks, and evening programs. Additionally, the park is open every day of the year from 5:00 AM to sundown.

If you’re searching for an indoor field trip near Presque Isle, visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, a 65,000 square-foot facility that showcases the park’s diverse ecosystems!

3. Port Farms

If you’re looking for a source of outdoor education, take a ride out to Port Farms! Established in 1897, the farm has become so much more than your go-to source of local produce. Whether you’re an educator planning your class’s next field trip or a parent or guardian homeschooling your children, Port Farms has many activities that will teach and inspire! At our outdoor learning farm, children can:

  • Learn Spookley the Square Pumpkin’s story as they take a self-guided walk through the Spookley kids corn walk maze
  • Pick their special pumpkin from the school tour kids pumpkin area
  • Take pictures with our air-inflated Spookley
  • Enjoy a great day with the class in a beautiful fall setting

We even provide a lesson plan ahead of time. If you’d like to schedule a visit to the farm, fill out the form on our website, call us at 814-796-4500 x247, or email kelly@portfarms.com!

Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend college.
Photo courtesy of Penn State Behrend.

4. Yahn Planetarium

Good news: you don’t need expensive telescopes to explore space! From current events in astronomy and space science to a view of the night sky, the Yahn Planetarium at the Penn State Behrend campus provides a plethora of opportunities for those of all ages to learn more about the universe. Although closed temporarily due to COVID-19, the planetarium now offers educational virtual visits.

What’s more, schools can receive free admission during the regular school year (fall to spring)! Whether you’re a parent, guardian, educator, or youth group coordinator, you can choose from 18 different programs that address myths and misconceptions, facts, stories, and more about the universe beyond earth!

5. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Whether you opt for a guided or virtual tour, the Erie Zoo presents many educational opportunities for you and your students. From discussing the role of zoos in conservation and the intricacy of their breeding programs to observing the behaviors of the animals in the zoo, there is so much to learn! If these programs don’t work in your curriculum, there’s no need to worry: the zoo’s staff will tailor a tour to suit your educational needs upon request!

To schedule a field trip or school tour, visit their website, call Kim at (814) 864-4091 x247, or email kbowes@eriezoo.org!

ReLeaf planting session
Photo courtesy of ReLeaf.

6. Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier (LEAF)

The Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park (LEAF) is a nonprofit partner for Frontier Park that plants trees and seeks to generate environmental awareness. Although the park’s events and attractions are currently paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park is still open to visitors! There are also rental opportunities for the outdoor amphitheater and education center. Students can learn about the various types of trees, problem-solve to explore a labyrinth, and witness the 3rd green roof in Erie County in action!

ReLeaf, LEAF’s volunteer-based tree-planting initiative, is also still active and worth checking out! Find out more about how you and your students can participate in adopting a tree and making the planet greener with LEAF!

7. Erie County Public Library

You can’t go wrong with choosing a library for a field trip! On top of being free to access, libraries provide an endless amount of knowledge to digest. From rows and columns of books to computers and DVDs, there is something for everyone. The third floor of the library, known as the Mead Children’s Library, offers storytimes, hands-on STEM workshops, art classes, and plenty of special events for learning!

Contact Outreach Services to plan a general or research tour, consult the events calendar, or call 920-459-3400, ext. 3!

Educational Fun for All

Field trips should be exciting for students of all ages, which is why Port Farms, your go-to source for making learning fun, has over 37 attractions and programs that touch upon several PA academic standards! Advanced registration is required, and the tours end in late October, so hurry and book your school tour today!

14 Things To Do In Erie, PA

From breweries and beaches to water parks and family farms, this lakeside city has more to offer than most people know. Whether you’re here to find some family fun, party with your friends, or a mix of both, Port Farms is highlighting 14 things to do in Erie, PA.

1. Presque Isle State Park

Soak up some sun, hike some trails, catch some fish, or get some good eats—Presque Isle State Park has just about everything. Established in 1921, Presque Isle is a 3,200-acre peninsula with beautiful beaches, scenic lagoons, and lush forests.

With all of these features, more than 4 million people visit Presque Isle every year (Fun fact: that’s more visitors than Yellowstone National Park!). If you’re heading to the “PI,” here are a few must-dos:

If you’re visiting in the winter, be sure to visit the Tom Ridge Environmental Center Foundation website for more ideas. They have information on hunting, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and more!

2. Tom Ridge Environmental Center

The Tom Ridge Environmental Center during the day.
Photo courtesy of the TRECF.

Speaking of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC)—If you wanted to go to the Presque Isle, but the weather didn’t hold up, pop into the TREC to still get a taste of the peninsula!

The center combines hands-on interactive exhibits, educational programming, conservation efforts, and indoor and outdoor trails to create an engaging experience for those interested in science and earth education. It also provides educational resources for teachers who wish to incorporate environmental education into their teaching curriculums.

3. Waldameer Park & Water World

If you and your family enjoy a little adrenaline rush, then you should consider visiting Waldameer Park & Water World. The amusement park has over 100 rides, slides, and attractions for kids of all ages. Waldameer is also home to the Ravine Flyer II, the 8th Best Wooden Coaster in the World!

Not feeling the rides but still want to take the kids? Waldameer offers free admission into the amusement park

After your day of wicked fast rides, wet and wild water slides, and action-packed arcade games, be sure to grab some grub from their 17 food stands. The funnel cake is a rollercoaster for your taste buds!

4. Erie Zoo & Botanical Gardens

A zookeeper at the Erie Zoo interacting with the animals.
Photo courtesy of the Erie Zoo on Facebook.

The Erie Zoo is a classic pitstop for any family. It only takes a couple of hours to walk through, and you’ll see nearly 400 animals and 11 breathtaking botanical gardens. The zoo includes some crowd favorites such as African Lions, Amur Leopards, Southern White Rhinos, and Eastern Gray Kangaroos.

Complete your trip to the Erie Zoo with relaxing rides on the Safariland Train and Wildlife Carousel. If you have time, be sure to drop into the Gift Shop for someone plush, toys, and souvenirs!

5. Erie Art Museum

Museums are an excellent place for learning more about a location’s rich history. The Erie Art Museum, one of Erie’s landmarks, is located right in the heart of downtown Erie and has been inspiring visitors since 1949. With over 7,000 square feet of gallery space, the Erie art museum showcases some of the city’s finest collections. These collections include local, regional, and traveling artists’ work.

The Erie Art Museum also exhibits stoneware pottery, paintings, and metal sculptures. If you want to be more of a creator than an observer, the museum also offers workshops to teach people how to make their own art.

6. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum

Two children playing doctor at the Erie Children's Museum.
Photo courtesy of the Erie Children’s Museum.

Bringing your kids to Erie on vacation but don’t know where to begin? Try the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum! While the museum is geared towards children, it doesn’t mean adults won’t have fun too! The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 1 PM to 5 PM, and admission is just $8 per person (children two years old and under are free).

ExpERIEnce features over 25 hands-on exhibitions and various programs for children of all ages. With three floors of fun and an outdoor classroom, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about math, science, art, culture, literacy, and wellness.

7. Presque Isle Downs & Casino

If you’re looking for a night of live entertainment and want to win big, Presque Isle Downs & Casino should be on your list! Since opening over 20 years ago, Presque Isle Downs has become a staple in Erie’s entertainment scene. Attracting people from all around Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, many have traveled to enjoy live horse races and gaming options featuring hundreds of slot machines.

Today, Presque Isle Downs & Casino is recognized as one of Pennsylvania’s best gambling destinations. The casino has more than 30 table games, including Blackjack, Roulette, and Craps; 7 poker tables; 50 sports betting kiosks; 1,500 video reel slots; live horse racing; and entertainment every night of the week.

8. Port Farms

Sunflower field at Port Farms's Flower Festival.

Port Farms is one of your go-to sources for family fun in Erie, PA. Established in 1897, we’ve become so much more than a pumpkin patch and source of local produce. From concerts and corporate events to weddings and seasonal festivities, there’s always something happening on the farm!

In addition to our seasonal event passes, we offer general admission to the public that includes access to over 37 attractions! In addition to our attractions, we regularly hold seasonal events for people of all ages, such as:

9. Erie Playhouse

What better way to end a romantic dinner date than with a show? Founded in 1916, the Erie Playhouse is one of the oldest community theatres in the United States. The Erie Playhouse has been home to various types of productions in its early years, including drama, comedy, and vaudeville shows.

However, throughout its history as a live performance venue, there have been many changes to how it operates, including community outreach initiatives and arts education. In fact, Strand Theater, a former movie house, was once at its current location.

Today, the Playhouse hosts all sorts of events, from ballet to musicals to plays! With over 12,000 square feet available, the theater can accommodate up to nearly 500 people. Make sure to check out their schedule for upcoming shows and events!

10. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park

Children playing in the water at Splash Lagoon.
Photo courtesy of Splash Lagoon.

From pools and slides to arcade games and surf machines, there are many different attractions that Splash Lagoon has to offer. But people come to Splash Lagoon for more than just the fun and games! Splash Lagoon is an 80,000 square foot Polynesian-themed indoor water park composed of slides and games for families with young children.

If you’re interested in water park fun but want to stay indoors, plan a visit to Splash Lagoon! You can even ditch the admission lines and long wait times with Splash Lagoon’s super simple check-in process.

11. Lake Erie Speedway

Ready to put the pedal to the metal? Look no further than the Lake Erie Speedway! Built in 2002, the speedway is a racetrack located in Erie County, Pennsylvania. The track hosts both stock car and motorcycle racing events throughout the year, as well as monster truck rallies, with most of them occurring during the summer months.

In addition to hosting these types of competitions at speeds up to 150 mph, other activities take place at the speedway like camping, wine tours, and miniature golf! With so many different ways to have fun after an event—or if you get bored while waiting for one to start—there’s no reason not to take advantage of the events held at Lake Erie Speedway!

12. Erie County Historical Society

Erie's Hagen History Center / Erie County Historical Society.
Photo courtesy of Erie History.

Yet another significant museum showcasing Erie’s history, the Erie County Historical Society at the Hagen History Center, includes over 40,000 artifacts and objects that citizens of the county donated. The exhibit takes up six floors, displaying different aspects of life from decades past: farmlands to railroads; industry to education; military affairs to public works projects like roads and bridges.

The Historical Society is an independent nonprofit organization that maintains archival materials related to Erie County’s past: photographs, paintings, maps, scrapbooks, and more than 150 years’ worth of local newspapers from across Pennsylvania. If you want to learn everything you can about Erie’s history, this is the place to visit.

13. Erie Maritime Museum

Located near a plethora of bars and restaurants, the Erie Maritime Museum is a nautical museum with displays that feature the history of Great Lakes sailing freighters and steam-powered tugboats. The museum is perfect if you’re looking for something free and educational to do or need an activity to wait out the rain one afternoon.

First established in 1998, the museum also serves as a port for the recreated model of the U.S. Brig Niagara, a ship used in the War of 1812. The museum features exhibits regarding other types of watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, rowboats, motorboats, and model ships and shipbuilding techniques.

14. Breweries

Photo courtesy of the Erie Brewing Co.

Erie, PA is becoming a go-to location for craft beer lovers. With over a dozen breweries, you can make a whole day out trying this lakeside city’s finest brews. If you want an ever-growing list of breweries, check out the Lake Erie Ale Trail site.

Many breweries have implemented new ideas into their beers, making them popular among people who want to experiment with different brews, like:

  • Using non-traditional ingredients
  • Decreasing water content
  • Increasing nutritional value and alcohol by volume (ABV) content

Visiting Erie, PA

If you live near Erie, PA, or are visiting soon, be sure not to miss out on these gems in the Gem City! With plenty of beautiful parks, lakeside trails, museums, theaters, and other attractions, this city has something for everyone. If you’re ready to dive into your next Erie activity, head on out to Port Farms to kickoff vacation or your weekend!

4 Things To Do With Pumpkins

Sure, you know the round, orange gourds are great for making jack-o’-lanterns, but you may be thinking, what are some other things to do with pumpkins? As it turns out, there’s a lot!

But before we get to that, let’s talk when. Because pumpkins take 85 to 120 days to mature, May and June are considered the best time to start planting in order to have them ready by fall. You can even plant them as late as July, as the success of your pumpkin patch is largely dependent on your location and the weather.

When your pumpkins are finally ready for harvesting, it’s time to determine whether you’d like to sell them, make indoor or outdoor decorations, or even use them for cooking. If you’re not a harvester, consider visiting your local farm to purchase fresh pumpkins to achieve the same creative results.

In this blog post, Port Farms lists a variety of tips for ways you can use your pumpkins outside of creating the traditional—and still awesome—jack-o’-lanterns!

1. Roast the Seeds

When a pumpkin is ready to be harvested, the first step is to cut it open to remove the edible seeds. You can do so by using your hands, a spoon, or even an ice cream scoop. Once the seeds have been removed, separate them from the pulp, then wash and dry them (the drier, the better).

Pumpkin seeds laying out on a table and in a bowl.

The seeds should then be seasoned using herbs and spices of your choosing. We recommend a touch of olive oil to help crisp the seeds, as well as salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper to taste.

After the seeds have been seasoned to your liking, put them in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. The seeds should be tossed every five minutes to avoid burning either side. Once finished, set aside the seeds to cool, then enjoy!

The American Heart Association (AHA) has stated that eating pumpkin seeds or the seeds’ shells can:

  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity (fiber)
  • Lower blood pressure and prevent migraines (magnesium)
  • Improve heart and bone health (magnesium)
  • Reduce inflammation (zinc)
  • Promote better sleep (tryptophan)

However, be mindful of the amount of seeds you consume! Pumpkin seeds are high in calories and fiber, which can lead to feelings of discomfort. The recommended serving size is about one-quarter cup.

2. Decorate Your Home

There’s no denying that pumpkins make incredible decorations, but they’re not only just for a singular holiday such as Halloween. Along with jack-o’-lanterns, there are quite a few eye-catching objects you can craft out of pumpkins, such as:

  • Bird Feeders
  • Candle Holders
  • Planters
  • Colorful Centerpieces
  • Vases
  • Pumpkin keg
Two pumpkins on a table for decoration.

Keep in mind that if your pumpkins are whole, they will last longer. If they are cut into or gutted, they will be harder to preserve and have a shorter shelf life. Steve Reiners, a horticulturist at Cornell University, has said that “if the pumpkin was healthy when picked and diseases were controlled in the field, the pumpkin can last 8 to 12 weeks.”

3. Create Food and Drink

According to Hubbub, a UK-based organization advocating for greener living, over 18,000 metric tons of pumpkins are thrown away every year, equivalent to 39,683,207 pounds or 360 million portions of pumpkin pie. While you can certainly buy canned pumpkins in a grocery store, nothing beats fresh produce, so do not throw your pumpkin away after the holiday festivities have come to a close! Instead, use a whole pumpkin, or what’s left of your pumpkin after carving, to make fresh seasonal food and drink, such as:

Stuffed Shells
Seed and Nut Brittle
Hot Chocolate

4. Compost

Composting is the process of recycling organic material and allowing it to decompose naturally. Once the pumpkin has decomposed, you can use the material to enrich your planting soil with nutrients. To compost pumpkins:

  • Remove the seeds, as well as any other objects you may have inside
  • Find a designated place for your compost pile (in the shade is best)
  • Break the pumpkin into smaller pieces and spread it around the pile
  • Lightly cover the pumpkin with other compostable materials
  • Let nature do the rest
Various pumpkins being composted.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that the benefits of composting are:

  • Reduction of methane emissions
  • Reduction of the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts
  • Remediation of soils contaminated by hazardous waste
  • Cost savings over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies
  • Enhanced water retention in soil
  • Carbon sequestration

If you find that the quality of your pumpkin isn’t to your liking but don’t want to contribute to the growing number of food waste, consider composting your pumpkin!

Growing with Port Farms

At Port Farms, we understand the importance of making the most of the produce you grow. Whether that means composting, making crafts, or creating the next seasonal food item, there are a myriad of actions you can take to make sure that your goods don’t go to waste. For more information on growing or purchasing fresh produce, check out 5 Ways to Support Small Farms or visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter!

8 Events You Can Host at a Farm

Many small farms have created a multi-functional event component to their business. This feature of some local farms, such as Port Farms, opens up a myriad of opportunities for people looking to make their next event stand out. From weddings and baby showers to corporate events and luncheon meetings, Port Farms lists eight events you can host at a farm.

1. Anniversary Parties

If you have an anniversary coming up, make it a celebration by finding a unique farm venue. Getting creative is a great way to keep the passion burning between you and your partner.

If you’re going by anniversary traditions, the fifth anniversary typically involves something wooden. Trees are a symbol of prosperity, strength, and wisdom. There is no better way to celebrate your fifth anniversary and recognize the significance of the day than with an event inside a wooden barn.

2. Baby Showers

If you’re looking to make a baby shower extra special, consider hosting it at a barn and having an engaging farm theme. Farms have a versatile setting that often allows you to have your event indoors, outdoors or both.

A couple having a pink-themed baby shower on a farm.

Depending on the season, you’ll want to book your barn/farm venue at least two months in advance. If your plan is in the heart of the summer, consider booking it three to four months ahead of time since you’ll be competing with the height of the wedding season. That said, you should also consider whether or not the farm offers cooler spaces or air conditioning.

3. Charity Events and Fundraisers

With the popularity of barn events, many farm owners have updated their amenities to ensure that they’re able to accommodate your vision, especially if you want a rustic barn vibe and an elegant evening. Such amenities include lighting, air conditioning, and plumbing. For companies and organizations looking for a space for their next charity event, a farm should be at the top of your consideration list.

Not only will it make your event stand out, but you’ll also be helping out a local farm! While it may seem like a small gesture to work with a small business, it makes a big difference. Currently, many locally-owned American Farms are in crisis mode due to extensive commercial farming and automation.

4. Classes and Workshops

Are you looking for a unique venue to host your growing classes and workshops? A barn can hold a significant number of people while still maintaining an element of closeness that is often necessary for instruction. From gardening and homesteading to creating a healthy corporate culture and improving leadership skills, we’ve seen classes and workshops about almost everything! Our spacious land and events barn allow for a wide range of activities to take place.

Woman in white t-shirt and red and white plaid pants holding brown and white bird.

The length of workshops vary considerably. According to the University of Kansas, a short workshop is between 45-90 minutes, medium-length is 90 minutes-3 hours, and long is 3+ hours. Port Farms can accommodate a range of class times — from short to half-day sessions, all the way to to all-day sessions.

5. Corporate Events, Luncheons, and Meetings

Need to get out of the office and stretch your legs? Your local farm will provide you with the perfect opportunity to get back to nature and out of the confines of a cubicle. Here at Port Farms, we offer a number of team-building activities that will inspire creativity and get your team pumped for the upcoming work season.

Should you choose Port Farms for your next corporate event or luncheon, know that you’ll have the option to enjoy a catered, farm-fresh meal. Just give us a shout, and we’ll do the rest.

6. Weddings and Wedding Showers

Most farms have a barn on the property, but not all are created equal or fit the same purpose. We at Port Farms have designed our barn in such a way to make it a perfect place to have your wedding. From the rustic look of the wood to the venue’s picturesque views, all of a farm’s features add charm to your special day.

Bride, groom, groomsmen and bridesmaids exiting a barn

But don’t feel like just because farms are out in the country that the wedding itself has to be country-themed. You can dress up or dress down as much as your heart desires.

7. Family Reunions

There’s nothing quite like coming together for a family reunion. On top of coordinating the time and date, determining the right location can be challenging, especially if you have a large number of people to accommodate — or even a smaller number of pickier people.

Farms can often accommodate small to large groups and offer affordable packages. Farm venues are exceptional for providing a relaxing, laid-back atmosphere where everyone can simply enjoy the company of their loved ones.

8. Field Trips

What better way to get kids engaged in their education than to take them to an outdoor learning farm? According to a study conducted by Emilyn Ruble Whitesell, Ph.D. at NYU Steinhardt, students who went on and participated in a science-based field trip improved their state test scores.

Young children investigating animals while on a field trip at a farm.

Field trips often provide students with a few hours—or even a full day—of relaxation while still ensuring that they’re learning along the way. Not only can field trips increase a student’s knowledge of a particular subject or experience, but they may also create new memories and friendships to last a lifetime.

Plan Your Next Event at Port Farms!

If you’ve been searching endlessly for a destination that will accommodate all of your needs, look no further than Port Farms. From a timbered barn venue with air conditioning and electricity to spacious land available for a number of different events and activities, we have it all. For more information on what we have to offer, subscribe to our newsletter or get in touch by filling out our contact form!

Get Back to Nature With Your Next Corporate Event Venue

Identifying your company’s culture and sticking to it is vital to both the development and success of your business. In the 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study, Jobvite reports that “46% of job seekers cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply to a company,” whereas 88% believe that company culture is of relative importance. After the hiring process concludes, company culture continues to impact your business as it affects employee retention and productivity.

One of the best ways to foster positive company culture is to have corporate events that provide positive distractions, healthy competition, and opportunities for creative collaboration.

While corporate events often occur in convention centers and banquet rooms, those options often leave a lot to be desired. Instead, try boosting your team’s morale, creativity, and collaboration skills by booking a venue that gets them back in touch with nature. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has determined that “increasing nature contact at work may offer a simple population-based approach to enhance workplace health promotion efforts.”

To help make your corporate event planning a little easier, Port Farms takes a look at the concept of corporate culture, highlights the importance of team-building activities, and identifies why it’s valuable to host corporate events in an outdoor setting.

What Is Corporate Culture, and Why Is It Important?

A group of coworkers talking over lunch.

Corporate culture, synonymous with both company culture and organizational culture, is the combination of shared values, attitudes, and practices that define a business. Furthermore, corporate culture determines the way that the employer and employees interact with one another. According to Robert E. Quinn and Kim S. Cameron, faculty at the University of Michigan, there are four main divisions of corporate culture, such as:

  • Clan Culture: friendly, collaborative working environment that promotes participation, consensus, and teamwork; similar to a family
  • Adhocracy Culture: dynamic and creative working environment composed of innovators and risk-takers; individual freedom and initiative
  • Market Culture: competitive with a heavy focus on reaching goals; the organization is results-based; emphasis on “winning”
  • Hierarchy Culture: adherence to tried and known ways of doing business while keeping costs and mistakes low; conservative and cautious

Understanding corporate culture is an integral part of corporate event planning. Before you begin planning your next event, make sure you—as the employer or events planner—have an idea of what beliefs and behaviors characterize the company as a whole. From there, you can then decide what services to include.

In either case, organizing a corporate event outside of the office is a great way to demonstrate to your employees that you have their well-being in mind. Going outside is good for your health, and for anyone who regularly works inside of an office, a change of scenery and daily routines can make all the difference.

The Benefits of Team-Building

Coworkers participating in a team-building activity outdoors.

There are a number of reasons why team-building activities are crucial to a healthy and productive working environment. A study conducted by the Kenexa® Research Institute claims that “organizations with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of organizations whose employees lag behind on engagement.”

Team-building activities also encourage stronger bonds between employees. Not only do such activities engage employees that may be accustomed to working independently, but they also bring fun to the workplace!

What’s more, Harvard Business Review (HBR) has stated that “35% of the variation in a team’s performance can be accounted for simply by the number of face-to-face exchanges among team members.” HBR’s findings indicate that face-to-face interactions facilitate better communication between employees; the same can be said for eliminating the division between employer and employer. Employees may get the opportunity to get to know their bosses better in addition to getting to know their coworkers outside of an office environment.

Team-building can also lift an employee’s spirits. Hppy, an employee engagement insights platform, has listed several keys ways in which outdoor events build employee morale given that they:

  • Provide a change of scenery
  • Instill drive and determination
  • Allow time for relaxation
  • Facilitate better communication
  • Rely on activity-based events
  • Allow time for conversations between peers and bosses
  • Foster the development of original ideas
  • Provide an opportunity for casual picnics
  • Reduce pressure and eliminate the fear of rejection

Corporate Event Activities at Port Farms

A group of people participating in outdoor team activities.

Corporate events are typically held at Port Farms from the months of May to October. Our spacious heated/air-conditioned events barn allows for speakers and presentations or a relaxed environment to enjoy a successful work season. And, after providing a farm-fresh meal, we offer a great number of team-building activities for you and your coworkers to try, such as:

  • Apple Cannon Target Hits (additional purchase of tokens required for this event $)
  • Cannon Station (Available in September)
  • Cattle Chute Maze Dress Up Relay Race (Customer would provide the clothes for dress-up)
  • Complete all 9 stations of the 8 Acre Corn Maze – a timed event
  • Corn Hole Tournament
  • Corn Maze (Available in September)
  • Giant Jenga
  • Giant Slide Races
  • Hippity Hop Ball Relay Race
  • Jumping Pillow Ping Pong Ball Spoon Race (requires socks to be worn)
  • No Left Turn Maze (Customer makes this a timed event to complete)
  • Pedal Cart Relay Race
  • Tug-O-War

When choosing Port Farms as your next corporate event location, outline the goals and purpose of your event and we’ll do the rest!

Team-Building with Port Farms

Whether you’re planning a corporate work function or corporate company picnic, Port Farms has you covered! To find out more about having Port Farms host your next company event, call us today at 814-796-4500, subscribe to our newsletter, or visit our contact page.

5 Ways to Support Small Farms and What It Means for the Local Economy

Between automation, big box stores, online grocers, massive agricultural companies, restaurant closers, severe weather caused by climate change, and plummeting commodity prices, operating a small farm—and navigating it through modern challenges and changes—is big work. In fact, the U.S lost more than 100,000 farms between 2011 and 2018. And the COVID-19 pandemic has now exacerbated the challenges.

However, there is evidence that suggests people are becoming more thoughtful about where their food comes from and how it gets to their kitchen tables. Further, people are being more mindful about spending locally and shopping small to support their community and local creators.

As a multi-generational, family-owned farm, we at Port Farms determined that it would be a good idea to look at the current landscape of local agriculture, provide a few ways for people to support local farmers, and highlight a few of the initiatives that we’ve taken to grow in this changing industry.

What is Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Farming?

Direct-to-consumer farming describes the process of customers purchasing their goods right from their local farmers, as opposed to purchasing produce from a grocery store. On average, direct-to-consumer sales typically occur within 100 miles of the farm. The benefits of direct-to-consumer farming include:

  • Fresher produce for consumers
  • Control over the price of produce
  • Lower debt levels for farmers
  • Less machinery and land required to achieve a certain level of sales
  • Higher survival rates for farm operations
  • Fueling the local economy

With the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, the popularity of direct-to-consumer farming has only increased. The direct-to-consumer model eliminates the excessive amount of interactions that others have with produce, supports the local economy, puts an end to the uncertainty behind where the produce comes from, and almost guarantees product freshness.

Produce at a Farmer's Market.

In a grocery store, many hands turn over and inspect produce. If the produce isn’t to a customer’s liking, the produce is then left to its container for the next person to touch and examine. Damages caused by handling and shipping to a grocery store can also impact a customer’s decision to purchase the goods because produce that is scarred or discolored is not desirable. It can also lead to the spread of germs. According to Feeding America, “52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants end up in landfills rather than kitchen tables.”

5 Ways to Support Local Farms

Farmers will always have competition with businesses that use mass production, but you can help decrease the divide between local and worldwide produce sales. Here are five ways you can support local farms:

1. Buy Direct, and in Bulk

Local First states that if you make purchases locally, $68 will stay in the community for every $100 you spend, whereas only $43 will stay in the community if you spend $100 at a non-local business. Making local purchases means that more of your money will go towards paying employee fair wages, generating jobs, funding local taxes, making investments in the community, and providing local services and supplies.

Buying produce and meat in bulk also requires less packaging. In turn, there will be far less plastic involved in the packaging process. Not only will buying in bulk save you a bit of money and provide you with a greater amount of goods, but it will also allow you to practice being environmentally friendly with little effort! In addition, you will be saving farms that have entered crisis mode due to being unable to sell their produce, meat, and milk to restaurants that have closed down due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Buying in bulk also makes it easier on meat producers due to the fact that COVID-19 has drastically slowed down processing production.

Woman purchasing goods at a Farmer's Market.

For those who reside in Pennsylvania, you may also choose to purchase produce that has been marked with a “PA Preferred” logo. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recognizes the logo as a “resource for finding locally grown and processed agricultural products from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” Rest assured that when you come across this logo, you are directly aiding farmers in need of local support. The website also identifies what produce is in season, where to buy local produce, and advocates for programs such as Farm to School that benefit both farmers and the local community.

2. Spread the Word

If you stumble across a local farmer’s market or an event at a farm, don’t keep the news to yourself! Consider spreading the word to family, friends, and even coworkers. Marketing by word of mouth is a great way to support local farmers because it is cost-free, and it is especially beneficial to those who rely on direct-to-consumer methods to get by.

Additionally, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to increase sales given that consumers trust the ratings and words of other consumers. Nielsen has stated that “92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.” You can help support your local farmers just by offering a recommendation alone! If you want to become even more involved, consider joining your local food council or attend local board meetings to advocate for the inclusion of locally-grown produce.

3. Eat Seasonal Food Whenever Possible

Two women apple picking at a farm.

Seasonal food refers to the produce that is bought and consumed around the same time that the goods are harvested by farmers. Choosing to purchase and consume food that is in season:

  • Helps support local farms
  • Funds the local economy
  • Allows farmers to inform you of how the food was grown
  • Helps the planet by reducing the amount of miles the produce must travel
  • Reduces the need for chemicals and pesticides
  • Reduces expenses due to the abundance of supply

Eating seasonally goes hand-in-hand with eating locally! Not only will eating seasonally help guarantee the freshness of your produce, but it will also be healthier for you too.

4. Corporate Events and Educational Programming

The next time you’re thinking about hosting a corporate or educational event, consider a local farm! From organizing team-building activities to relaxing picnics, a farm is large enough to accommodate just about any of your business needs. You can support the farm further by offering to pay for any catering services they may offer. Beyond business gatherings, a farm’s barn may be the perfect place to host your next graduation or birthday party, given they have the right amenities. If you haven’t heard, barn weddings are quite popular!

Farms are a great place for kids as well. School tours at local farms can offer insights into farm life, animal education, and even teach children about the importance of locally-grown produce at an early age. What’s more, kids can learn about the beneficial health impacts of locally-grown food as opposed to food that is mass produced and travels miles to reach their dinner plate!

5. Request Local Products at Local Institutions

Hospitals, schools, grocery stores, food banks, and local governments typically have a high food demand. These institutions can be contacted directly, and in doing so, you should request that they reach out to local food councils to source their food locally. These institutions may benefit greatly from locally-sourced food given that the produce will be more fresh and positive relationships may be built within the community. In turn, the local economy will experience a boost given that a cycle has been established between supply and demand; the farmers can depend on their consumers to purchase their goods, and the consumers will receive locally-grown produce and fuel their community in doing so.

Fresh produce at a grocery store.

Project PA and PA Preferred are two great Pennsylvania-based resources to get started with incorporating local produce into your local institutions.

About Port Farms

The Port Farms family is no stranger to the life of farming. In fact, we’ve been tilling soil and feeding northwest Pennsylvania since 1897. In addition to growing and selling produce, we’re a family-friendly farm that prides ourselves on offering seasonal activities to fuel our local economy, provide ample amounts of fun, and generate revenue to keep our business thriving.

How do we do it? Our professional and creative team offers wedding packages throughout the summer and fall months, and both the wedding and the reception can be held right here at the farm! Our outstanding team also organizes corporate and educational events for businesses and schools, prioritizing team-building fun, safety, and even providing farm-fresh meals.

Farm Fun

At Port Farms, we know what it takes to be a business that relies on local support, which is why we host many activities to account for every season! From hosting birthday parties and school tours to campfires and horse-drawn rides, we have it all. Visit our site to browse what we have to offer or check out our blog for more information!

Finding Your Green Thumb: A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

Don’t let the size of your yard determine whether to start a garden. It doesn’t matter if you have acres upon acres of land or a postage stamp-sized yard; where there is dirt, there is a way. From planting a small herb garden to cultivating a healthy crop of fruits and veggies, there are bountiful ways to discover—and grow—your green thumb.

If you’re unsure of where to begin, you’ve come to the right place. Port Farms’ Five-Step Beginner’s Guide to Gardening will help you get growing in no time!

1. Know What You Can Grow

When beginning your gardening adventure, there are a handful of essential details to consider. First, you will want to think about three key things: Where you live (and what can grow best there); the size of your yard (and the amount of sunlight it receives based on where it’s situated); and the realistic amount of time you have to dedicate to gardening. 

Second, consider reflecting on your garden’s purpose. Ask yourself: Will my garden be for sustenance? Decoration? Dedicated to producing occasional spices?

Gardening for sustenance is relatively common, which is why we’ve provided a list of fruits and vegetables that grow well according to their specific season:

TomatoSweet PotatoesFigsCauliflower
HoneydewCornKey LimesGreen Onions

For additional information, visit Seasonal Food Guide. They provide a comprehensive list of what produce is available in the U.S. according to different months of the year. You can find what’s in season near you by selecting your state, the month, and what produce you are trying to grow! Even if your food isn’t in season, you will still be able to select the produce and learn about its properties and uses.

Also, if you are planting a vegetable garden designed to feed your entire family, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Family Garden Planning Guide. The USDA claims that the estimated pounds needed per person (which is determined by the crop) divided by the approximate yield (lbs) per foot of row will equal the amount of rows (feet) to plant per person. When creating your garden, keep in mind that some vegetables take up more room than others! The same can be said for flowers, fruits, and shrubs.

2. Determine Your Gardening Spot

There are three baseline ingredients to any successful garden: dirt, water, and sunlight. While you can improve the quality of the dirt by incorporating store-bought fertilizers, starting a compost pile, and increasing the amount of water your garden gets with a hose or sprinkler, you can’t easily increase the amount of sunlight a particular area gets, so it’s crucial that you choose carefully.

Furthermore, avoid areas with lots of trees and shadows cast from the house. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, a south-facing garden (south side of the house) is your best bet. Conversely, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll want a north-facing garden.

A gardener digging soil and planting seeds.

On average, plants must have exposure to at least six to eight hours of sunlight. However, some vegetables such as peppers, corn, and tomatoes do well in direct sunlight for longer periods. If your yard lacks sunlight, consider veggies like cabbage, carrots, and root onions that do well with less light.

You’ll want to avoid any areas of your yard that are too moist from lack of drainage and air circulation. While water is essential, too much can cause mold, mildew, and fungi to grow.

If, for whatever reason, you’re digging deep (putting in sprinkler system lines, improving drainage, etc.), be sure to check with your area about who you need to contact before starting the project. For instance, in Pennsylvania, you need to call 811 to request a utility company representative to examine the area before you dig.

3. Choose Your Plants

After doing your research, choosing your location, and preparing the soil, you can select your plants and produce then begin planting!

As for flowers, Hydrangeas are great for curb appeal: they can be planted alongside the lining of your house or even in front of the home as colorful, decorative bushes. The same can be said for Vinca, Delphinium, Clematis, and Lily of the Valley, all of which are white flowers that may have a welcoming and calming effect. If you’re looking for something that demands a little attention, plant one of the following red flowers: Roses, Pentas, or Zinnias!

A gardener holding a basket of blue Hydrangeas.

If it’s your first time growing produce, there are various fruits and vegetable options we recommend trying to plant first, such as:

  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries and Raspberries
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini and Squash

You don’t have to begin with this list. If you’re confident in your tools, soil, and gardening knowledge, you can try to grow just about anything! Furthermore, farm with your family in mind. There are various plants that may be toxic to children and pets (if you have them), so remember to do your research before planting!

4. Get Your Gear

Gardening doesn’t have to be a backbreaking process. With the right gear, you’ll better enjoy your time outside. There are six main gardening tools you should purchase or have on hand:

  • Gloves: to keep your hands safe and free of dirt
  • Shears, Loppers, or Pruners: to trim plants and manage growth
  • Rake or Garden Hoe: to smooth and break up dirt and soil, optimal for seeds
  • Garden Fork or Spade: to move larger quantities of soil around
  • Garden Hose or Watering Can: to efficiently water plants
  • Rich Soil: to give both plants and produce the proper nutrients they need

When planning on creating a large garden, you may also want to invest in a rototiller to turn over more significant amounts of soil. If you’re intimidated by the thought of having to purchase a rototiller, these machines are often rentable from local hardware stores and tool lending libraries.

5. Regularly Tend to Your Plants and Remove Any Weeds

After planting your produce or flowers, you must maintain them. Weeds will inevitably begin to grow along with your plants, and sometimes, they can have a negative effect on your produce. In addition to stealing water, sunlight, and other nutrients from your plants, weeds can bring about diseases and unwanted insects that spread them. To remove weeds, you can dig them up with your gardening tools or purchase eco-friendly weed killers. Laying down Weed Guard is also an effective way of preventing weeds from sprouting!

A shovel in the ground digging out weeds.

Along with weeds, you will also want to watch out for any animals! To dissuade animals from eating or destroying your plants, you can build a fence, use an animal-safe repellent, or invest in a motion-detecting spray that scares the animals away.

Gardening with Port Farms

With these helpful tips from the experts at Port Farms, you have all the tools you need to get started, so make your purchases and get to planting and growing that green thumb! But before you take off to get your seeds and plants, there’s one more thing to know: Spring began on March 20 and lasts until June, so NOW is the optimal time to start your gardening journey. Make sure to stay in touch by subscribing to our newsletter!

7 Factors that Impact the Cost of a Barn Wedding

From a barn’s exposed wood to the venue’s pastoral views, there is a clear reason why barn weddings are becoming so popular. They’re romantic, rustic, and picturesque. And they’re also perfect for couples who want to showcase their DIY-skills.

But if you’ve started researching venues, you’ve probably noticed that barn weddings, while seemingly simple, come with their own set of complications. Does the venue have electricity? Are there bathrooms? Is the barn climate controlled?

You’ve probably also noticed a significant difference in costs between venues. Simply put: The more amenities the barn has, the higher the price. But, the more amenities the barn has, the less you’ll be renting to bring on-site.

To help make your wedding planning a little easier, Port Farms reviews seven important factors to consider when it comes to the cost of barn weddings, what we feel is essential to have, and finally, a venue that we think fits the bill.

1. Air Conditioning and Heating

Many barn venues don’t have heating and air conditioning. Because of this, both the wedding and reception must be planned according to the weather and season. The lack of A/C and heat in most barn venues is also why they get booked in late spring and early fall as the temperature and weather are milder.

Unfortunately, this means that many couples miss out on the opportunity to hold a barn wedding in fear of guests being too hot or cold. But when venues have heating and air conditioning accommodations, the options for when your wedding can expand significantly.

But if barn venues do have these features, the upfront price point will be higher. Keep in mind that if you can budget accordingly, heating and air conditioning are well worth it because it widens the window of when you can host your wedding and help you ensure your guests are comfortable when celebrating your big day. There are few things more uncomfortable than wearing a full suit in the heart of the summer, getting your makeup done while wiping sweat from your forehead, or on the flip side, shivering in your dress in heels because it’s blistering cold. And, you won’t be asking yourselves whether you should be thinking of renting heat lamps or fans to accommodate your guests.

2. Restrooms

Like heating and a/c, in-door plumbing isn’t a feature common in many barns. In fact, barn venues often utilize portable toilets or restroom trailers for weddings. And these are no cheap dates, with prices ranging from $300 to $15,000 depending on the units you choose to rent.

If you find a barn venue with bathrooms, consider booking it. You may even be able to save money and have a better experience by eliminating the need for portable toilets and restroom trailers that tend to be more costly and kind of an eyesore. Remember, you want the bathrooms to blend in, not stand out!

3. Decorations

Decorations are an integral part of setting the scene for both the wedding and reception. ValuePenguin has estimated that for floral arrangements alone, couples spend about $2,141. Of course, though, the price will fluctuate depending on the type of flowers chosen and the number of arrangements.

Port Farms indoor barn wedding reception decorations

Other wedding decoration costs, as Zola reports, are:

  • Centerpieces: $50 to $500 per table
  • Tablecloths or runner: $20 to $80 per table
  • Candlesticks: $10 each
  • Welcome sign: $10 to $50
  • Aisle runner: $30 to $200
  • Ceremony arch: $75 to $1,000 (with flowers)

Finding a barn venue with a pleasing aesthetic that also provides decor will help you minimize the time-sink of piecemealing your decorations. Just know that the price point for booking these more inclusive venues will reflect these accommodations, so while it may seem initially pricier, it may save you time and money in the long-run.

4. Catering

Foodservice is often one of the highest priorities for wedding receptions, and catering prices can depend on both what you serve and what you’re serving to how many people. WeddingWire estimates that “the average wedding catering cost in the U.S. is about $4,000, with most couples spending between $1,800 to $7,000.” There are, however, venues that include catering in their wedding services, so you won’t need to go out of your way to search for the right caterer!

5. Electricity and Lighting

As is the case with plumbing and restrooms, many barns haven’t been built with electricity. More often than not, lighting is added months or years after the building is constructed and repurposed. If wiring hasn’t been installed, you’ll need to rely on bulky generators to power the lights at your wedding.

Bride and groom posing between barn doors at Port Farms' wedding reception venue

However, premier barn venues have working electricity, which eliminates the need for generators, provides functional lighting and power, and has decorative lighting. It can set the mood for the wedding and the reception, too. And don’t forget: Capturing your wedding-day memories in photographs plays a significant role in your big day. What lighting you have will play a big role in that.

When looking for barn venues, electricity and lighting will likely inflate the cost of booking the venue. However, it will be less costly compared to renting a generator. All in all, knowing your special day will be well-lit is priceless.

6. DJ / Sound Equipment

Some venues may come with sound systems readily available. In other cases, renting sound equipment may be necessary.

When it comes to wedding receptions, some couples often choose to hire a DJ. According to WeddingWire, couples typically spend between $780 to $1,495 on hiring a professional DJ, with the average being $1,000. When hiring a DJ for your event, remember to double-check the sound ordinance rules for your area, and make sure your DJ knows the venue—and its capacity—they’ll be working in.

7. Season

Wedding season is typically between late spring to early fall, roughly from May to October. According to WeddingWire, the most popular months to get married are June, September, and October.

Booking costs may increase during this time due to high demand. BrideBox suggests having your wedding during January, March, April, or November to save on costs. Prices are lower given that more vendors have more available and less demand.

Bride and groom posing for a wedding photo outside at Port Farms

Your Wedding Destination

If you’ve been searching for a rustic, personal, and romantic wedding destination, consider Port Farms’ barn for your venue. From temperature control and catering to on-site restrooms and electricity, our venue has everything you need to make the most of your special day extra special while staying within your desired budget. Visit our site for more information on what we have to offer, or contact us to request our wedding package guide! You can also stay in touch by subscribing to our newsletter!