Connect with nature, discoverLouisiana as you travel this summer

There are rows upon rows of sunflowers and zinnias at Petite Anse Farm in New Iberia, but they’re not just meant to be seen. The hardy flowers suited to the heat of southern Louisiana summers are there to be picked.

Farm owners and operators Andrew ‘Andy’ and Jennifer Graycheck hand their visitors scissors and a black bucket, telling them about what species of plants they’ll find on the acres before them.

The visitors have come to fill the bucket with Autumn Beauty, plum sunflowers, Oklahoma White zinnia, baby’s breath and anything else growing on the property.

About 50 miles north, on the opposite end of Acadiana, folks are filling buckets with juicy blackberries and blueberries at Bien-Aime ‘Farm in Church Point.

David and Katie Baird run Bien-Aime 'Farm in Church Point.  Monday, June 6, 2022.

Between the chicken coops, rabbit runs and rows of fruits and vegetables stands an old tractor for kids to climb for photos. Others stand in line for snow-cones from the wooden shack where farm owners David and Katie Baird make their cane syrup.

“We try to make it an experience,” David Baird said. “Everywhere you walk on the farm it’s an experience. We want them to almost forget about everything else and just pick.”

These “you-pick” farms are part of a growing agritourism industry in southwest Louisiana and across the United States.

The US Travel Association describes agritourism as a billion-dollar industry that has directly generated more than 9 million jobs, and it’s still growing. The US Census of Agriculture shows an increasing trend in agritourism and related recreational services like Bien-Aime ‘and Petite Anse.

Andrew and Jennifer Graycheck turned their family's New Iberia farm organic and began opening it seasonally for pick-your-own flowers (sunflowers and zinnias), photography sessions and field trips.

“It’s really cool that people can see where their food comes from and just being in nature,” Katie Baird said.

Learning as they go on their ‘beloved’ farm

For the Bairds it started with a small, raised bed of bell peppers in their backyard in Arnaudville. A lot has changed over the last seven years. Near the end of 2020, they moved to about 13.5 acres in Church Point, right next to the Lewisburg water tower and began planting right away.

“We just got bit hard by the farming bug,” Katie said.

“We’re just learning as we go,” David added.

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