Students welcome fall at Mayse Farm

Megan Thorne
Students took a ride on the hay wagon on Mayse Farm during the first off-campus Late Night at USI event Friday night. Students enjoyed free food, corn mazes, rat races, and hayrides.

The sky burned deep oranges and reds as the tractor rumbled softly through the well-worn path. Corn stalks still too green to be harvested smacked gently against the hay wagon as students swayed with the irregular movements of the bumpy ground below.

Olivia Lucas said the last time she was on a hayride, she was baling the hay.

The sophomore occupational therapy major was one of over 200 hundred students who attended the fall event hosted by APB and the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center Friday night.  

The campus organizations hosted the first off-campus Late Night at USI event at Mayse Farm. Students were able to enjoy a hayride, corn maze, free food, rat races and a selection of pumpkins for sale.

“It makes me think of home,” Lucas said. “I have been living with my grandma on her farm since I was 11, and during the summers I work at a dairy farm with a bunch of my friends.”

Lucas said her responsibilities include picking vegetables, baling hay, driving the tractor and milking the cows.

“It’s nostalgic to be here,” Lucas said. “I live two hours away and I can’t go home all the time to enjoy this time of year on my farm. It’s nice to be outdoors again; it even smells like home here.”

Lucas said fall is her favorite season.

“I love everything about fall,” Lucas said. “I love pumpkins, sweaters and fall colors. Everyone thinks of New Years as the time when everything is new and different, but fall is when everything starts to change. I think the change is what I like most about fall.”

Sherrill Mayse, the owner of Mayse Farm, said the farm was built in 1976.

“One day my husband came up to me and said we’re going to start a farm market,” Mayse said laughing. “And here we are 90 acres later.”

Mayse said it has been a journey.

“When we started we didn’t have any help. We both had jobs and we would come home after work and do the picking,” she said. “As we got bigger and bigger we started adding farm hands. We have about ten workers here in the fall now.”

Mayse said the farm burnt down in 2005.

“There was an electric accident, and we lost the entire farm,” Mayse said. “We rebuilt and opened again the May of the following year.”

Mayse said there can be as many as 5000 school children on the farm during the week during the fall months.

“People like coming to the farm,” Mayse said. “If you go on the hayride, you see all the land and it’s beautiful.”  

Dave Enzler said when events are hosted on campus, students tend to take them for granted.

The director of the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center said he pushed hard to get Mayse Farm approved for the off-campus event.

“There is a novelty of getting off campus and getting involved in the community,” Enzler said. “We don’t get crowds like this very often, no matter how good our events are. But for something like this, students show up.”

Enzler said he was thrilled with the turnout.

“It’s something students can do together,” Enzler said. “It’s something they can’t do on campus.”

Jenny Garrison said this is one of many off-campus events the university hopes to host.

The assistant director of student development and APB advisor said the off-campus focus is all part of the new initiative to involve more of the campus community.

“We have commuter students here,” Garrison said. “We have non-traditional students here with their little kids. Students were able to drive themselves, and those who don’t have a vehicle could ride the shuttle here. Everyone pays the student activity fee, and so we want to make sure it benefits as many people as possible.”