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Always tweaking new ideas at Kuipers Family Farm          Send a link to a friend

Tour Oct. 23

[September 13, 2007]  URBANA -- Wade and Kim Kuipers began their agritourism operation in 1998 with the purchase of a 71-acre pumpkin patch. In 2002, they purchased the neighboring Pine-Apple Orchard and have been adding and tweaking the business in Maple Park ever since.

University of Illinois Extension will host a tour of Kuipers Family Farm on Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"Every year we add a new idea and spend the fall tweaking it," said Kim Kuipers. "We try not to set anything in concrete the first year, because you really can't know how well it will work until you actually see people using it."

This is only the Kuipers' second year with a giant corn maze, so they have yet to decide how successful it will be. Kim Kuipers said that adding homemade fudge and caramel apples is definitely one of their successes. "We were already selling apple cider and apple doughnuts, but adding the made-from-scratch fudge and caramel apples has been a hit. We make a ton of caramel apples," she said.

One challenge for the business has been the addition of allowing people to purchase using credit cards. "People don't realize that, like using an ATM, for every transaction we have to pay a flat fee plus a percentage of the sale to the credit card company. So, if a customer purchases something using plastic for, say, only $3, we don't see any profit," said Kuipers. She said that it's a service they feel like they need to offer, because many times people will come out to the farm to spend the day and not bring any cash with them.

For more information about Kuipers Family Farm, visit

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"It's important for agritourism enterprises like the Kuipers' farm to work with other businesses in the area to create a critical mass of attractions that will attract more customers," said John Pike, president of Agriculture and Tourism Partners of Illinois. "Many times in traditional business situations, competition is viewed as a negative, but in agritourism, no two businesses are alike and the variety of attractions in a region can be a selling point."

A fee of $20 per person will be charged for the tour. This fee includes lunch. Registration at least one week in advance is required. Visit to register and for more details about the tour, including a map and agenda, or contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at 217-968-5512 or

The tour is sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension, the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program, the Agriculture Tourism Partners of Illinois, and the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois.

This tour is being co-sponsored by Agriculture Tourism Partners of Illinois and the University of Illinois Extension, Kane County.

[Text from file received from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences]

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