Farm Talk

March 2, 2010

Dunn’s Landing—like taking a step back in time

by Megan Lawrence

For 17 years Robin Dunn, owner and operator of Dunn’s Landing in Wellsville Kansas, has ran her 1,000 acre farm true to its historical roots.

The land was originally purchased in 1907 by her great grandmother Duanna, and Dunn is now the fourth generation farming the land.

This female operated century farm raises corn, soybeans, wheat, hay and alfalfa. As well as Dunn has a small herd of Black Angus cattle.

Since the age of five, Dunn, helped farmed this land and knew she always wanted to take over the reins one day.

“I grew on this land, Dunn says. “This is where my roots are and I came back in 1993 to take over the farm. Everything on this property me or my grandfather built, except for the 1800s dairy barn.”

Throughout college Dunn continued to go back to help farm the land. After college she moved to southern California for 15 years where she owned her own landscaping business. When she saved enough money to buy the farm she moved back to the ground where she grew up.

“Farming has always been in my blood,” she claims. “Out of my siblings I was the only one who wanted the farm and really had a passion for agriculture. My brothers both tried it but never really had the same desire for farming like I did.”

After Dunn returned to Kansas and took over the farm, she began to restore the farm to how it looked over a century ago.

“Every year I change the farm a little more and try to preserve it,” Dunn says. “I have it set up like it used to be. It has a very authentic feel of old country and I always leave the farm clean and neat.”

Dunn’s Landing is a registered agritourism farm, which hosts several school tours each year and at least two International tours as well.

“Every year I bus the Blue Valley School district kids here to teach them about agriculture and what it is like to be on a farm, Dunn says. “Many of those kids have never been on a farm or experienced being around farm animals.”

Dunn also serves as the Franklin County Farm Bureau President. She is passionate about agriculture and teaching others about the importance agriculture. According to her, Farm Bureau has allowed her to expand what she is able to teach to others.

“Working with Farm Bureau has allowed me to expand what I am able to offer on school tours, she says.” “I truck in animals which are not present on my farm so the tourists are able to receive every aspect of a farm. It is important for the public to understand farming and the troubles family farmers continue to face. After they leave my farm they begin to have a different appreciation for farmers and our heritage.”

Not only does Dunn offer her farm for educational purposes, but she also hosts wedding and special events on her property as well.

“We fixed up the old 1800s dairy barn and now hold wedding receptions and special events inside there,” she says. “It makes for a really nice place to have a large gathering indoors. I decorated the barn with old items found on the farm.”

She now offers a guest house available for rent, which is the same house she grew up in. The guest house can be rented for a day or a week.

“The guest house is an opportunity for people to experience country life and what it was like to live in those days,” Dunn says. “Having the guest house has allowed us to have a place where wedding parties can get ready or for individuals to get away for the weekend.”

In addition to working the land, teaching others about agriculture and hosting wedding parties Dunn also has draft horses.

“We have always had the draft horses,” Dunn adds. “We started promoting our horses by going to horse parades, the American Royal horse parade and now deliver the governor’s Christmas tree every year with them. They are gentle giants and a dying breed which most people don’t understand.”

According to Dunn, she has 10 to 12 horses which is enough for two or three teams.

“I have always loved the draft horses,” she says. “Riding horses wasn’t as fun as I have gotten older. We used to be a Belgian breeding farm but now we have enough horses for a couple of teams. Also we have a couple of wild mustangs to teach the public about the importance of the horses and the purpose they serve.”

“I use the horses to teach driving lessons and workmanship,” she says. “It is important for the youth to understand safety around the farm and the animals, especially horses. During school tours I am able to show the progression agriculture has made. Not only does every piece of machinery on the farm work, which includes the old equipment, but I am able to show the difference between the past and modern agriculture as I still use the horses to plant my sweet corn every year.”

She also offers her horses for hire. Not only does Dunn haul a team of horses to Topeka to deliver the governor’s tree she also uses the horses for weddings and for individuals traveling to her farm to experience her way of life.

“We have a stage coach, a people mover wagon, a high wheel hitch wagon, a horse drawn limousine and a bobsled available,” she mentions. “I spend every weekend with the horses during the nicer months going to parades, festivals, weddings and wagon rides.”

Whether one is traveling through the area to experience a early 20th century farm or is there for a wedding, Dunn offers a piece of history to each visitor.

“There is something about walking out of the old barn and seeing a team of horses tied to the hitching post to connect to how life used to be,” Dunn concludes.