After more than 100 years and in its fifth-generation of family ownership, Ackerman Farms continues to provide a fall harvest in Morton.
“Ours is definitely a working farm, like most are,” John Ackerman said. “People get a chance to experience farm life firsthand. Nothing we do here is for show. It’s all authentic. This is how we make our living.”
This year the farm opened a new design on an old attraction Sept. 7, the corn maze.
“My wife and I sit down and think of themes that we want for the maze,” Ackerman said. “One year, we had a patriotic theme. We’ve had a theme for our 100 year anniversary of owning the farm one year. We’ve also had a map of Illinois one year with cities throughout the maze.”
This year, the maze has a ’70s theme.
“We plant the corn a little later because we want it to be greener,” Ackerman said. “We plant it in early to mid June, which is late for planting corn.
“After we decide what we want in the maze, we work with an artist and make a grid map of it. Then I go through the maze and whack it down with the map. Then I mow it up to make it easy to walk on.”
Also new this year is Pedro the alpaca, expanded parking, a picnic pavilion, Dixie the dog and a dozen new kittens.
“We have never had an alpaca before,” Ackerman said. “We’ve also moved some buildings and done some landscaping.”
The farm is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
After Nov. 1, the farm is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday.
“It’s fun meeting people and hearing the stories,” Ackerman said. “We get really good customers out here. We have parents, grandparents, cooks, nature lovers and all kinds of different people. We really have wonderful customers.”
The last entry to the corn maze will be one hour before closing each day.
“People like it,” Ackerman said. “It’s been a fun one. We’ve had lot of people do it. Ours is a very family friendly maze in that it’s easier to find your way through. The fun is in finding enough clues while you’re in it to solve the riddle we have.”
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The farm at the house, which was built in 1911, has seen five generations of Ackermans.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a farmer my whole life,” Ackerman said. “I love working outside, the process of growing things and owning my own business. You have to be ready to have an income that varies greatly year to year. It’s definitely not for everyone.”