The Good Shepherd Food Bank is celebrated this year at Sandy River Farm’s eighth, annual corn maze.  A design featuring the food bank’s logo has been cut in to a field of corn.

FARMINGTON —  The Good Shepherd Food Bank logo makes up the design for this year’s corn maze at Sandy River Farms.

The Auburn food bank’s logo is cut into a 10-acre field of corn, south of the farm, at 755 Farmington Falls Road.

The maze and annual “Pick your own Pumpkin” patch opened Sept. 30 and will close Oct. 29. It is open weekends only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout October, owner Herbert “Bussie” York, said.

Started in 2009, the Yorks choose an agriculturally oriented theme or organization to highlight and celebrate each year, he said.

The work of the Good Shepherd Food Bank to alleviate food insecurity is seen throughout the county and all 16 counties of Maine, he said.

“They are pleased to be a part of it this year,” he said.

The organization has devised a food quiz and the Yorks created eight stations throughout the corn maze for people to stop and answer the questions, he said.

In Farmington, the food bank supports the efforts of the Care and Share Food Closet in Farmington and a once a month food bank held at the Mallett School.

That work includes buying milk from Sandy River Farms, he said. The milk is pasteurized at the farm’s facility. The food bank would like to be able to purchase more and could with more donations, he said.

They like to work with local farmers and also purchase corn and vegetables, things that people like and need, he said.

The maze design is created and cut by a crew from the Corn Maze Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, he said. This is one of a few hundred mazes they create each year throughout the United States and Canada.

Once the theme for the maze is chosen, the company goes to work developing a design on a grid pattern.

The field is planted in May with a six-row planter set at 20,000 seeds per acre in an east/west direction. Then the field is planted again at 20,000 seeds per acre in a north/south direction, creating a criss-cross stand, he said.

When the corn reaches about a foot tall, about the middle of June, a crew from Utah comes out to first spray paint the design on to the ground and then they follow the design with a sprayer of crop retardant, he said. This takes a crew of two or thee about six to eight hours, he said.

The Yorks finish it off by smoothing the three-miles of pathways with a rototiller.

The rest of the corn grows to maturity and after October is harvested for shell corn. It is used as either fuel in corn stoves or animal feed.

People do get turned around and lost in the maze but in an awesome, fun way, he said. The maze is designed to create some challenges.

A couple workers stay in the corn maze to help people who cannot find their way.

Along with the maze, the Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch offers a variety of pumpkins to choose from and buy. The pumpkins are large this year. Some weigh in around 90-pounds, he said.

A petting zoo of farm animals, free hay rides, an obstacle course, corn box and a moon bounce for youngsters is also offered, he said. There are also cow train rides, ox cart rides and food including homemade goodies. 

Group tours are offered and some groups prefer maneuvering by flashlight through the maze at night.

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The Corn Maze and Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch at Sandy River Farms in Farmington comes to life on weekends throughout October as visitors find their way through the cornfield maze and enjoy other activities.