Schnepf, Sossaman farms provide history and agritainment experiences in Queen Creek

A plaque on the back of the clock tower in Picket Post Square honors the “Queen Creek 5” — Robert Eberle, Paul Gardner, Ralph Pomeroy, Mark Schnepf and Steven Sossaman — early residents who helped shaped the future of the town. The three living founding fathers were photographed during a ceremony July 12, 2017, to celebrate the completion of the park and nearby road improvements. They are: Mr. Schnepf, far left; Mr. Sossaman, second from right; and Mr. Gardner, far right. Mr. Sossaman’s father, James, is to the right of Mr. Schnepf. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey)

As communities across the U.S. honor Travel and Tourism Week, Queen Creek highlights the town’s history and agritainment destinations.

National Travel and Tourism Week is an opportunity to celebrate community assets. From outstanding parks to an extensive trail system and dining and shopping options, Queen Creek has a lot to offer. Queen Creek is known for farm-to-fork experiences at the Queen Creek Olive Mill, Schnepf Farms and Hayden Flour Mill at Sossaman Farms, according to a release.

Farmland in Queen Creek. (Submitted photo)

Queen Creek’s bustling agritainment industry evolved from the community’s deep agricultural heritage. In the early 1900s, founding families established homesteads in the area known as Rittenhouse at the time. Included in the founding families were the Sossamans who settled in the area in 1919 and the Schnepfs who settled in 1941.

As a rural farming community, Queen Creek was incorporated in 1989 after a lot of hard work. Five individuals led the effort, known as the Queen Creek Five, or the town’s Founding Fathers: Robert Eberle, Paul Gardner, Ralph Pomeroy, Mark Schnepf and Steve Sossaman. The two Founding Fathers, Schnepf and Sossaman, from founding families, didn’t stop there, according to the release.

Mr. Schnepf was elected as the town’s first mayor and served until 2000 when Mr. Sossaman was elected the second mayor.

“Both helped make strategic decisions that paved the way for a vibrant community. Staying true to their agricultural roots, both Mr. Schnepf and Mr. Sossaman not only continue to operate their family farms, they’ve expanded them into unique destinations,” according to the release.

Sossaman Farms produces heritage grains and is the home to Hayden Flour Mills, a family owned business that makes flours from some of the world’s oldest wheat varieties. Hayden Flour Mills offers specialty flour for pancakes, pizza and pasta.

From Red Fire wheat crackers to ancient barley, white Sonora berries and stone-ground oats, you’re sure to find something special. Sossaman Farms is also home to Grain R&D where the grains are cleaned and processed. Grains R&D selects and grows ancient grains to sell to brewers, distillers, millers and malters around the country,” according to the release.

Sossaman Farms is expanding its operation to include Heritage Corner, an 11-acre expansion on the farm. The multi-phase project will include a restaurant, brewery, coffee house and pasta-making area. The expansion embraces the town’s effort to preserve the agricultural heritage and is the first project to be approved using the town’s agritainment zoning.

Schnepf Farms, within the town’s agritainment district, has grown a variety of vegetables including potatoes, corn and peaches. In the 1990s, the farm expanded to include a petting zoo, carnival rides and bakery.

“Since then the farm has only continued to grow, offering new and exciting opportunities for residents and visitors. Schnepf Farms offers dinner in the orchard, a U-pick garden and unique items in the Country Store. Glamping is the most recent experience added to the farm, offering Queen Creek’s first overnight accommodations in unique, vintage Airstream trailers,” according to the release.

Seasonal events are also a major draw to the farm. Beginning May 11, Schnepf Farms will offer all things peachy at the annual Peach Festival. All can pick peaches at the organic and pesticide-free peach grower. The Peach Festival includes hay rides, live music, train rides, peachy food ranging from sweets to salsas and more. Admission is $5 Friday through Sunday, May 11-13, kids 12 and under are free; prices for food and activities vary. Increased traffic is anticipated during the event.

Learn more about Queen Creek’s unique agritainment industry at the following websites:

  • Schnepf Farms: SchnepfFarms.com
  • Hayden Flour Mills at Sossaman Farms: HaydenFourMills.com
  • Grain R&D: GrainRandD.com
  • Queen Creek Olive Mill: QueenCreekOliveMIll.com
  • Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Centre: QueenCreek.org/HPEC
  • Town of Queen Creek: QueenCreek.org

The Queen Creek Independent publishes a daily newsletter and website. A print edition is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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