kindness

Apple Annie’s Orchard opened its 12.5-acre corn maze on Sept. 18, featuring a 600,000-stalk tribute to kindness.

WILLCOX — Apple Annie’s Orchard, a four-generation family farm and agritourism destination in Willcox, opened its 12.5-acre corn maze on Sept. 18, featuring a 600,000-stalk tribute to kindness. The farm partnered with Ben’s Bells for this year’s design. A portion of the ticket sales will be donated to Ben’s Bells, whose mission is to teach individuals and communities about the positive impacts of intentional kindness and to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life.

The family has created mazes every year since 2008, observing among other things the 50th anniversary of space travel, the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes, Arizona’s first baby elephant, state landmarks and the farm’s own centennial in 2012.

Visitors can meander along dirt paths through the ripening maize for a brief stroll or a couple of hours immersed in nature. Three levels of difficulty can be completed in 10, 30 or 45 minutes.

“Family and friends sometimes enjoy the maze together, sometimes turn it into a race — can Mom and Dad beat the kids to the finish line?” says Mandy Kirkendall, daughter of founders Annie and John Holcomb. “Either way, it’s a fun time to be had as you wind your way through many twists and turns of corn as you try to find your way out of the largest corn maze in Arizona.”

Kirkendall owns and operates the farm with other family members, including her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Alicia Holcomb, and their children.

The enterprise, rooted in a 6,000-tree apple orchard in the early 1980s, now has 7,100 apple trees, 4,700 tree peach, 800 Asian pear and 300 cherry as well as 37 acres of pumpkins, 19 acres of sweet corn and assorted produce such as melons, tomatoes and peppers.

Customers may pick their own fruits and other vegetables in season. The family bought Stout’s Cider Mill building, a Willcox landmark off Interstate 10, and opened year-round Apple Annie’s Orchard Country Store in 2013 with fresh pies, bread, fudge, gourmet jar goods, and gifts.

Apple Annie’s hosts a series of food celebrations throughout the summer and fall, including Peach Mania, Sweet Extravaganza, Watermelon Weekends and Apple Harvest, and Pumpkin Festival. The events also benefit the Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona, March of Dimes, and Youth Haven Ranch, with more than $115,000 donated so far.

Submitted by Apple Annie’s Orchard

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