After a family from New York City recently stayed at Evans Family Ranch
for five days, they drove home with six coolers full of meat.
“For them, it was like a bird out of a cage,” says Ed Evans, the ranch’s owner and founder.
But it isn’t just out-of-towners that Evans wants to draw to the ranch. Evans Family Ranch, at 11140 Milton-Carlisle Road, New Carlisle, aims to show both kids and adults where their food comes from, all while offering pasture-raised beef, produce and more.
“Agritourism has become a big part of what we do,” he says.
The ranch sits on about 1,600 acres and is home to about 700 adult cows and calves – a number that grows to more than 1,000 in the winter. What started as a cattle company - Evans Cattle Company - expanded into Evans Family Ranch about two years ago. It is now also home to four full-hookup campsites, two Airbnb rentals - with more to come - and a variety of activities and events for visitors from near and far.
The Farmtastic Fun Center offers a jump pillow for kids, a livestock trailer converted into a climbing station with slides, a football toss through barn windows, tetherball and other activities. Right now, a pumpkin blaster using a large air-powered cannon to shoot at targets, including a car is popular.
“The kids like it, but the adults like it more,” he says.
Among the meals and snacks at Bruno’s Corral concession is food straight from the farm, from salads to hamburgers, using the ranch’s own meat.
The ranch has hosted its first Fall Fun on the Farm event, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October, which continues through Oct. 30. Tickets include a wagon ride, petting zoo, corn maze, a visit to the pumpkin patch, one pumpkin and more.
In addition, the ranch will hosted a day-long event on Oct. 22 that included a Truck or Treat with semi-truck drivers invited to decorate their vehicle and bring treats, live music by Tony Justice and Taking Back August, a vendor market and more.
When visitors view the pumpkins where they are grown and see their spectrum of colors from green to orange, they learn about the time it takes to plan and cultivate them, Evans says.
“Pretty much we’re farming like grandpa used to do,” he says.
The fields were filled mostly with corn and hay this year, he says. The seasonal produce for sale at the general store also is grown at the ranch and has included sweet corn, tomatoes, lettuces, green beans, zucchini, watermelon and “every pepper known to man,” he says. The garden center also sells flowers and other plants.
The cattle are grass fed, and cuts of beef are sold both fresh and frozen. Beef is available in bundles or as individual cuts, and customers also can make whole, half or quarter beef orders.
The farm is all organic, except for about 20 show cattle used by local 4-H and FFA members, he says.
Evans hopes that visitors to the ranch learn how food is grown and processed. When they are asked where their meat comes from, he doesn’t want them to point to the nearest grocery store.
“If you don’t grow up on a farm or in a farming community, it’s just not something they ever learned,” Evans says.
Evans Family Ranch hopes to open an event center with its renovated barn for weddings, parties, reunions and other get-togethers by next summer. Evans also expects the ranch to soon open what he says will be the largest beer garden in Ohio.
In addition to New York, visitors have come from Michigan, Florida and throughout the local area. Evans wants the ranch to continue to evolve into an affordable destination where guests look forward to visiting and feel welcome.
“Feeling welcome is real important to me,” he says.
Family is truly a part of Evans Family Ranch, with several relatives working at the farm. That includes wife Dee who helps with the finances, and adult son Austin who has a long list of responsibilities at the ranch, Evans says.
Evans, who has lived in New Carlisle for 22 years, was born in Coshocton and then grew up on a 60-acre farm in Licking County with hay, corn and a few hogs and cattle. Evans Family Ranch, he says, is a big leap.
He gets joy from being at the farm, maintaining it and knowing how the animals depend on those at the ranch. It is a 7-days-a-week job, but he loves it.
“If I’ve had a bad day, all I have to do is go to the pasture,” he says.