Go Chicken Coop, a Fall Farm, Opens in Brunswick County
Go Chicken Coop provides a place for fall family fun on a farm in Brunswick County.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JMB Designs
The autumn season brings a certain set of sensory details to mind: pumpkin patches, the smells of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, a briskness to the air in the mornings and evenings. For adults and children alike, thoughts of Halloween costumes and ways to fill the weekend hours tend to take over, and in this case, Ed Burnette has a suggestion.
“I have about 70 acres here of prime land here and this is how I decided I wanted to use it,” says the self-proclaimed half-retired 67-year-old real estate and business developer.
As of this month, he has devoted 10 acres to The Chicken Coop, a farm-themed recreational space for kids and kids at heart. Burnette says he plans to provide hay rides, duck races, a corn maze, pumpkin picking, packaged farm goods and a playground complete with signature Amish toys. He even hopes to be able to sign on a local food truck for regular service during the lunch hour, since the property will only take on visitors every Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve seen one before, but I just want it to be a nice family outing, where folks can put down the cell phones,” he says. “I’m making this a spot where kids can be kids, get a little fresh air and some mud between their toes.”
Situated just off Highway 17, and roughly 15 miles from the city of Wilmington, The Chicken Coop will be open to families, school groups, church trips, attendees from facilitated living or nursing home services, and any other visitors through the weekend before Thanksgiving. This way, Burnette says, locals and tourists have the chance to enjoy the fresh air before the holiday season really kicks into high gear.
To cater to the special parties Burnette hopes to entertain at The Chicken Coop, he is putting together schedules for programs to present to school field trips and groups from the surrounding assisted living facilities. The kids will learn basic farming techniques and how to care for livestock and crops, while the owner wants to set up a reading time so that the elder visitors can simply enjoy the open air and a good story.
Burnette says he received requests from schools and churches in the area for special group activities even before the farm opened and can’t wait to see how those guests respond to the farm.
“I think watching them react is going to be just fabulous,” he says.
In preparation for the opening weekend and the anticipated busy weekends to follow, Burnette was still hiring five or six part-time employees, mostly to drive the tractors that will facilitate the hay rides and pull the smaller carts for younger attendees. Though his own children – two teenagers and one young adult – will be unable to assist Burnette, he says he does have some help at the moment, including his son’s girlfriend, Megan Spivey.
“She’s the one who told me to change the name,” he recalls. For the purposes of his internet domain, Burnette had to call his venture Go Chicken Coop at first. “She and my son said I couldn’t call it that and it needed to be The Chicken Coop, so the Facebook page is a little misleading, I suppose. But she’s taken over that, too, so I don’t have to work with the social media part.”
However random the selection of the name was, Burnette swears he had an ironclad reason for the moniker in no time. At one point, a giant chicken lawn ornament loomed over the proceedings: until it inexplicably disappeared from the property.
“I have no clue what happened, if someone stole it or what,” he says, “but one day a good friend of mine down the road somehow ended up with a different, 9-foot chicken in his front yard and I stopped and asked if I could take it off his hands. Now a big golden chicken can be seen on 17 when anyone gets close enough.”
Burnette will be thankful when his other business ventures take up some of his time come October, he says. As a part-time real estate developer, and a resident in the Wilmington and Southport areas for approximately 30-40 years by way of Virginia, Burnette says he keeps busy with maintaining small-scale rentals and beach houses mostly located in Oak Island.
One of his current holdings, 801 Ocean, is a multi-purpose venue that he has decided to bulldoze in October, after its last wedding party, in order to rebuild an eight-bedroom vacation house he’s already dubbed, Boom.
“That venue was just too much for me to handle right now,” he says. “With everything going on at the farm, I’d rather just have the houses to worry about, not lots of parties coming through on the weekends. Once it’s torn down I won’t have to do much while the house is built, so I can focus on The Chicken Coop.”
And with the expectation of families coming for a few hours at a time of fresh air and sunshine each weekend through the fall, Burnette says he should be occupied.