Monday, September 29, 2003

Visitors keep farm afloat

Paintball, corn maze, hay rides

By Aaron Johnson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP - A Niederman has been farming the same 300 acres in Hamilton for six decades, and the white brick house they have lived in was built another 100 years before Granddad Niederman set foot on the soil.

Bob and Bethann Niederman want to keep both in the family. That's why they're offering paintball, pumpkin patches, hayrides and a giant corn maze as ways to support the homestead.

"We're farmers, so our main business is farming. But because of the challenge of agriculture at this time, we find additional methods of income," said Bethann Niederman.

Steve Bartels, of the Ohio State University Butler extension office, said many small farms are selling products such as fruits and nursery crops directly to the public.

And "agri-tourism" - including the mazes, pumpkin patches and petting farms - has become popular in high-growth, once-rural areas such as Butler County.

"What these entrepreneurs are doing is taking advantage of having this many people (surrounding their farms), said Bartels.

The Niedermans maintain several paintball courses and an inflatable obstacle course for paintballers. They also sell paintball accessories and guns.

This year, the Niedermans carved an Ohio bicentennial theme into their cornfield.

Fun on the farm

The maze is open 2-10 p.m. Saturdays and 2-6 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 31.

Cost is $6 per person, $3 per person for hayrides, or both for $7.50. Children 5 and under are free.

For more information call 779-6184, see or visit the farm, 5110 Lesourdsville-West Chester Road, Hamilton.

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