As the temperature continues to drop and the leaves have begun to change colors, it’s safe to say Autumn is officially underway. The staff over at Wells Hollow Farm, located on 656 Bridgeport Ave. are already well transitioned into the new season as it opened up its 10th annual Corn Maze for the public to enjoy last week.
“This is my baby,” said Dan Wells who created the maze and popular attraction. “I always wanted to make one since I’m a farmer at heart with a degree in business I combined my knowledge to help draw in more of a crowd to the farm.”
Dan is the nephew of Nate Wells who owns Wells Hollow Farm. The maintenance on the farm is really a family affair, along with some help from four other full time workers and several other part timers who help with the maze and ice cream shop that Dan opened on the farm back in 2007.
“Between the maze and the ice cream shop I think they’re both huge benefits to the community,” said Dan. “Everyone loves to come out and enjoy a night in the field and what better way to end the night than with a delicious ice cream? We get people who go out on date nights to a local restaurant and then come to the farm for the entertainment of the maze. Right after you take the calories off you put them right back on.”
The Wells Hollow Creamery has over 50 flavors of ice cream, smoothies, flurries, soft serve, italian ice and a 3,000 square foot open air patio in which to enjoy it. The creamery also serves a variety of pies alamode and hot cider or coffee as well.
Dan said he loves that he can give back to the community he grew up in.
“I pretty much grew up right on this farm,” said Dan. “I love it. I love that people don’t have to go too far or spend too much money to enjoy themselves.”
As the maze just opened up late last week, rushes of people have stopped by to check it out.
Dan explained that going through the maze during the day and at night are two completely different experiences.
“During the day you look for orange signposts with questions pertaining to the farm,” said Dan. “If you get them right then you get a prize.
At night you search for white buckets, you reach inside of them and feel a mystery item and attempt to identify it. It could be a skull, it could be insects, you never know what you’ll get.”
A group of six Seymour teens ventured to Shelton after being excited by scary reviews from friends who had experienced the attraction in previous years.
Mya Pitts, 14, of Seymour said she is a sophomore at Amity High School and had to check out the maze for herself. When her and her group of five friends split up before entering the maze just after 8 p.m. Monday Oct. 10 she said her nerves started to get to her.
“I got scared because right before we went inside the maze the man working the entrance warned us to watch out for clowns,” said Pitts.
There are no clowns in the maze, but Dan said the staff does occasionally play eerie music while you make your way through the maze to contribute to the creepy vibes.
“Being scared made it more fun,” said Pitts. “My advice is to come with a group of friends! It was a much cheaper way to enjoy a night than most of the other things we usually do.”
Navigating your way through the maze can be difficult, but Dan said it was his intention.
“We use a special hybrid type of corn,” said Dan. “We originally didn’t know what type of corn to grow on the approximately 3 acre stretch of land but we decided on a special type of hybrid corn, GMO corn. It grows super tall, around 12 feet.”
The maze is open during the daytime from 12 noon until 5 p.m. and reopens at 6 p.m. and can close as late as 10 p.m. depending on the flow of customers. It is $5 for children and $10 for adults. Dan estimated that it can take people nearly 30 minutes to escape the maze during the day and around an hour when completing it at night.
Not just ice cream and a corn maze
Owner Nate Wells said Autumn doesn’t just attract people for the maze, but also their wide variety of pumpkins and tours.
The farm is stocked with small pumpkins made for kids to paint, families to cook with, and then humongous GMO pumpkins for carving that weigh nearly 60 pounds. There’s also a variety of other colored more decorative pumpkins that are on sale near the farm’s farm stand which currently sells corn, zinnias, basil and a variety of other seasonal crops.
Nate said students and other community groups often visit the farm for a full tour and opportunity to feed their cows,bull and two goats.
“It’s a big hit with the kids,” said Nate. “At the end of the tour they all receive an apple and a pumpkin. They seem to really love feeding the cows too.”
In order to book a tour by call (203) 926-0524 and ask for more details.
Development’s effects on farm life
Dan said being that his family grew up in the community, he has seen it change tremendously over the years and the thought of further development ridding the city of more and more of its green space is disturbing to him.
“I hate to imagine the area without Wells Hollow farm,” said Dan. “The area is being destroyed by development.”
Dan said the staff on the farm is completely against further development in the city, but his family doesn’t all feel the same way. Royal Wells, Dan’s other uncle owns the 121 acre parcel of land on the hillside across the street from the farm and is in the process of working with developers to transform a large portion of the open space into a mixed-use development that would be called “Towne Center at Shelter Ridge.”
“We don’t want to see anymore trees cut but there’s not much we can do,” said Dan. “It’s Uncle Roy’s land so he’s entitled to do as he pleases. We really didn’t have any conversations about being against the development just to keep peace in the family.”
The application for the development is currently in the hands of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The public portion for the application ended and now the commission is working under a 65 day deadline to make a decision on the fate of the acres of green space.
“We have expressed that the 10 or 12 acres that make up this farm will be kept farmland, at least until I die,” said Dan. “All of these businesses opening up have negative effects on the farms in town. I think it will affect us in the negative because every commercial business that opens up on Bridgeport Ave. takes away from the business on the farms. When split rock went in and they put in a Peachwave our ice cream stand immediately felt the impact.
The biggest negative effect is all of the cutting of trees. We need the trees to produce the oxygen we breathe. We can’t just think of rainforests as the source of oxygen, we have to be conscious of the environment we live in. Would you rather look at the trees changing colors in the fall or a rooftop and buildings?”
Dan said as more and more of the city changes due to developments, the more their staff works to create more reasons to come to the farm, such as the creamery and corn maze.
“As far as the future goes we’re thinking of expanding the farm and creating a petting zoo to draw even more of a crowd and transform this into more of a park or place to hangout,” said Dan.