HAYFIELD — For almost a decade, visitors at Scanlan’s Red Barn Learning Farm east of Hayfield have learned about animals and agriculture from owners Brian and Brenna Scanlan.

The Scanlans have spent nine years learning as well — primarily about what kind of activities and experiences will bring people out to the farm.

“We’ve grown every year, we’ve found our niche,” Brenna said. “We’ve found what works as far as hours for the public goes and the events to have.”

At the heart of that niche are the animals. Red Barn is home to chickens, ducks, goats, turkeys, sheep, potbellied pigs, bunnies, guinea pigs, donkeys, llamas, alpacas and miniature ponies. Visitors can pet them, hold them or feed them with treats bought at the farm store.

Selah Stageberg, 5, of Rochester, hugs a guinea pig on opening day, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Scanlan's Red Barn Learning Farm near Hayfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Selah Stageberg, 5, of Rochester, hugs a guinea pig on opening day, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Scanlan's Red Barn Learning Farm near Hayfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

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But if you can’t go to the farm, the farm can come to you. For the last four years, Red Barn Learning Farm also has offered a mobile farm for rent as a mini petting zoo. A request from a visitor several years ago prompted the addition.

“We’d like to have people come to the farm, but if they can’t, we’re more than happy to bring it to them,” Brian said.

Another popular attraction begun in the last five years are farm camps. Kids age 4 to 12 visit the farm for four-day or day camp experiences, helping with chores, participating in activities and learning about farm management and animal care.

But where the farm has seen the most growth is in attendance, particularly around seasonal events. The annual spring egg-gathering used to draw the most visitors, but for the past three years, the last day of the fall season has surpassed it, increasing from approximately 200 visitors in 2018 to 700 in 2020.

“Fall in general has become so big. It’s our biggest season,” Brenna said.

The pandemic brought concerns, delaying opening in 2020 by six weeks, but despite the early setback, attendance continued its upward trajectory.

A tractor ride pulls in on opening day, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Scanlan's Red Barn Learning Farm near Hayfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
A tractor ride pulls in on opening day, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Scanlan's Red Barn Learning Farm near Hayfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The learning farm averaged 800-1,000 visitors per day every weekend last fall. The Scanlans expect to see that many or more this year, making expansion a major goal.

“We’re definitely busting at the seams as far as our space here,” Brenna said.

The learning farm is spread over 8 acres. The Scanlans want to obtain more a few more acres, which would be space for more parking, as well as other buildings, including a larger farm store and a new building for private parties.

“The demand is there and we just haven’t been able to accommodate,” Brian said.

Expansion is on hold as they wait for cost of construction materials to go down, but they’d like to see some of these changes begin as early as next year.

Another goal is to expand food offerings at the farm, potentially with a snack shop. The farm has already had success with bringing in outside vendors, such as Twisted Barrel Wood Fire Pizza.

“There’s a lot of things in the future we want to do,” Brenna said.

If you go

What: Scanlan’s Red Barn Learning Farm

Address: 27251 Minnesota Highway 30, Hayfield

Cost: $9 plus tax, for anyone 1 and older

Open: Weekends through October. Weekdays by appointment for groups.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on MEA Thursday and Friday.

Contact: redbarnfarm@kmtel.com or 507-272-7465