Getting lost in fall

Oxford Farm Corn Maze enjoys successful September launch 

HERSEY — Earlier in September, Oxford Farm Corn Maze owners Rose and Louie Stieg welcomed guests to their friendly confines for the first time.

Now, as the calendar shifts to October and the farm closes to the public for the season, the Stiegs, along with manager Kendra Kissane and her husband, Brett, can look back upon the journey they’ve embarked on during the past decade.

The Oxford Farm has been in operation for 100 years and the Stiegs have now been the owners for one-tenth of its existence.

“My parents bought the land contract for this place with the idea of giving back to the community and doing a corn maze (and) pumpkin patch,” Kendra Kissane said. “We wanted to do something small to test it out; we were planting our corn anyway for our dairy farm, for the cows.”

During its test-run that began Sept. 3, The Oxford Farm saw a bountiful number of families and couples who decided to spend the afternoon among early-autumn Midwestern charm.

Kissane said it was nice to see a consistently positive turnout in a rather short span of time.

“This year, we’ve been doing really well,” Kissane said. “The community has been responding really well to us.”

During its opening weekend, Kissane said the farm saw more than 200 guests pass through its maze and sort themselves a pumpkin or two.

The maze has been perhaps the most popular attraction thus far, with some finding it easy to make it through, and others claiming it was a tad difficult to maneuver at times.

“Opening day was awesome and the response was overwhelming,” Kissane said. “They said that the corn maze wasn’t too hard, but it was just right. People were able to get through in 15 to 30 minutes, so it isn’t overbearing. It’s good to get that mixed feedback.”

Pumpkins have also been much sought after, along with the apple cider, donuts and coffee — both hot and iced — that are being offered to patrons.

Without an apple tree or the methods needed to make donuts, Oxford Farm has reached out to a local source for both its cider and donuts.

“We wanted to keep the costs low, and we wanted to do things that were affordable for our community,” Kissane said. “We went with a women-led business for our cider and our donuts; unfortunately, we don’t have apple trees or anything like that yet to press our own cider. We don’t have a donut-maker."

"We went with Anderson Girls for our cider and donuts," she added. "We pick that up, fresh, every Friday morning for the weekend.”

The iced coffee served at the farm is also locally-sourced and Michigan-made and, on occasion, some of the milk that is produced by the dairy cows at Oxford Farm is used for the making of the very same coffee it sells to customers.

All of the local, community-driven aspects of the farm have not been put in place by mistake, but instead are part of an overall philosophy held by those that run the farm.

As Kissane describes it, community is and always should be the most important focus.

“My family really believes in sustainability and, with sustainability comes investing in the future — the next generation, especially generational family farming and wanting to pass it down to the next generation,” Kissane said.