When Ms. Sandy Lyons (a science teacher) started a small business called The Little Farm in 1978 she made several decisions that set the farm apart from other petting businesses. The business grew beyond her ability to physically manage it and she sold it to Thomas and Valerie Jornlid in 1990.
They were looking for a business opportunity in Agriculture, that could use Thomas’s expertise in small farm management. Over the years since 1990 they have maintained and refined these key ideas.
The Little Farm is a traditional family farm. No exotic animals are used and the emphasis is on basic livestock production. All the animals are hand raised and carefully selected so that young children can touch and learn while having fun in a safe, structured environment.
The Little Farm is unique because: ~The animals in the petting farm are not hand fed. The children can approach the animal; the animal does not chase the child for a treat. ~The animals are maintained to the highest USDA standards of health to protect both the children and the animal. The inventory is large enough that the animals can be rotated. No animal that is not in excellent condition needs to come to fill a slot. ~The staff are hired for their ability to relate in a positive way to children and to convey accurate information about the animals. >The physical structure and animal handling procedures have been refined over the years to minimize risk to both animals and children. The guidelines that we developed are now the core of the Florida 4-H Guidelines for Animal Exhibits as well as the standards that several insurance underwriters use to evaluate other petting farms.
We can provide an extensive list of local clients and references. When we worked with agriculture extension center, several businessmen from Europe came and looked at the business to see how a quality petting operation was managed. This is an established, local business with a sterling reputation. While the 4-H and Amelia Earhart exhibits are excellent, the Little Farm fills a niche for younger children that no other business in the state comes close to filling. If you are considering having a petting farm, I am confident that you will not find an operation better than The Little Farm.
If you’ve got the itch to ditch city living for a while, here is an idea for some good old family fun down on the farm. That’s the whole idea behind The Little Farm to expose children to a way of life that is waning amid the rise of technology and big business. Life is not a computer, Life is not in an office. This is life. This is what you have to preserve.
While actual “working” farms that are open to the public are few and far between in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, there are opportunities to get an authentic (or very close to authentic) experience of farm life. Whether you’re just looking for an entertaining way to pass the time.
The Jornlid family wouldn’t have it any other way. They love being able to get away from the concrete....to their lush...this place home. When Valerie Jornlid rented a room to a farmer from Sweden many years ago, little did she know that she would end up marrying the man. Today, she and her husband, Thomas Jornlid, co-own and operate The Little Farm in South Miami.
“Thomas and I truly believe we can make a difference by raising our five children in an agricultural environment and sharing it with as many other children as possible,” says Valerie Jornlid.
Some 50,000 children visit the farm each year through school field trips, birthday parties, and special events. The good news here is that The Little Farm opens its doors to the public monthly, call ahead to find out which weekend and the cost per person.
You will be able to see and or touch the many animals, which include goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, pigs, rabbits, horses, ponies, donkeys and cows. Visitors can even try their hand at milking a goat and get to see a beautiful butterfly garden.
The farm also hosts special community events, such as a Pumpkin Patch in October and an Egg hunt on the Saturday before Easter, reservations are required.
The Jornlids also present programs with their animals at schools and parties. Valerie Jornlid says that exposure to farm life is important, especially for children who may have never seen or touched a farm animal before. “This is what supports their lives. Many medicines are derived from animals . Food comes from animals,” she says. “Kids have no idea. When I ask them where milk comes from, notoriously, some- one will answer ‘the man at Publix or Winn-Dixie.” It’s all worthwhile though, she says, when a child who is crying because be is afraid to get off the bus on arrival ends up crying at the end of the day because he doesn’t want to leave. “They find out there’s a whole. other world out there,” she says.