Owners of Geisler Farms to Retire at end of 2021
A Bondurant farm known for fall fun and pumpkins will be hosting its final season. Geisler Farms opens Sept. 11th and will permanently close at the end of its 17th fall season. The owners are going to retire.
“Now we are going to focus on living rather than making a living,” according to Malinda Geisler, co-owner of the agritourism business.
“This was a second career for us,” according to co-owner Darrell Geisler, who stared farming in 1970. Malinda had a background in ag communications. “Our bodies remind us of our real ages,” Darrell Geisler said.
After a year of research and preparation, Geisler Farms opened Sept. 3rd, 2005, with an eight-acre corn maze and one-quarter acre of pumpkins. It was a way to earn income on existing acres while capitalizing on being 14 miles northeast of downtown Des Moines. That year they also farmed more than 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans.
“We had no idea how long we would operate this business,” Malinda Geisler said.
Since opening in 2005, something was added or enhanced every year to improve the guest experience. Eventually they started hosting wedding receptions and for five years sold pre-cut Christmas trees.
“This business allowed us to learn many new skills and meet people we would not otherwise have met,” said Malinda Geisler.
A notable accomplishment was offering ADA hayrides by adding a chair lift to a hayrack in 2006. “We were the first farm in Iowa, if not the United States, to offer an ADA accessible hayride,” according to Darrell Geisler.
Geisler Farms also conducted on-farm research in developing a system for using cereal rye as a cover crop for growing pumpkins.
Yet, during the journey they quickly learned that agritourism was no different than corn and bean farming. You still had to contend with the weather.
An early lesson in variable weather occurred following the first weekend of business.
“On Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005, we had a severe thunderstorm with 80-mph hurricane force winds and hail. The corn maze leaves were stripped off and the pumpkins were pulverized. Orange snow fence was ripped off of fence posts and scattered across the lawn. The new fabric covered shelter was collapsed into a pile of bent metal tubing and torn tarp. It was a humbling experience,” said Malinda Geisler.
The farm persevered and was open for business 44 hours after the devastating thunderstorm.
Both agree it was an honor to serve God by opening the farm to the public.
“Thank you to the visitors. Thank you to our staff, both present and past. Thank you to DEKALB, Casey’s and Van Wall for providing promotional support,” said Malinda Geisler. “Thank you to A&W Farms for harvesting our crops since 2007.”
“It is time to experience the next chapter of our lives,” said Darrell Geisler.
The last day of the fall season is Saturday, Oct. 30. Farm hours are 10 am - 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The farm will be open on Fridays in October from 1 - 6 pm. Admission is $8 for ages 3 and older.
An online equipment liquidation auction will be held the first part of November and will close on Nov. 11.