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Whistling Well Farm: A Must-See Minnesota Farm

Whistling Well Farm, located in St. Croix River Valley, Hastings, Minnesota, is a must-visit destination for apple orchard enthusiasts. This lovely farm boasts no less than eight different apple varieties, as well as a thriving pumpkin patch for fall picking. Founded in 1972, the orchard is now home to 5,000 apple trees!

Keep reading to discover this must-see Minnesota Farm!

Closeup of reddish green apples hanging on a tree with sun shining behind them.

The Johnson Family

Just south of Afton State Park, Charlie and Carol Johnson put down roots in 1972, naming their 65-acre property Whistling Well Farm. In 1980, together with their sons, Neal and Chad, they planted their first apple trees.

Today, Charlie and his sons still run the farm, together with Emmy, Charlie’s faithful Springer spaniel, and various cats, goats, and chickens.

Charlie developed his love for farming early in life. As newlyweds, the Johnsons spent time working in the Dominican Republic at an International School. As part of a post-revolution reconstruction project, they were tasked with teaching the locals about sustainable farming practices.

They were so enamored by how the locals responded to farming that they decided to purchase their own land as soon as possible. Over 40 years later, Whistling Well Farm remains that dream come true.

The Story of the Whistling Well

View of the St. Croix River in Minnesota.  Winds blowing along the St. Croix are responsible for the sound the well makes at the Whistling Well Farm.
The St. Croix River is a beautiful body of water.

The name Whistling Well is derived from the farm’s actual well, which emits a soft whistle in just the right conditions.

Research into this phenomenon has uncovered that the sound can be traced to the bluffs of the St. Croix River, located a fair few miles away. Easterly winds travel through the bluffs’ bedrock, along the river, and up through the well, which accounts for the enigmatic sound.  

But that’s not the real magic of the Whistling Well.

Indeed, Charlie and his family are committed to giving back to their community, and so they encourage visitors to make a wish with a coin or a note thrown into the well. The Johnsons then match each contribution down to the last cent, donating all proceeds to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.

In this way, they lend a hand to families unable to cover all their medical costs.

All About the Apples

Whistling Well Farm has eight varieties of apples on offer, with harvest times ranging from September to late October and availability dependent on weather and supply.

Their variety of sweet, juicy, crisp apples include First Kiss, SnowSweet, SweeTango, Zestar, Paula Red, Chestnut Crab, Haralson, and Honeycrisp.

Visitors are always welcome for apple picking and can check for availability on the Whistling Well Farm website or social media pages.

But Wait, There’s More

Whistling Well Farm prides itself on an abundant pumpkin patch, ripe for the picking and perfect for a fun fall family activity. Take some home to cook or decorate your home for Halloween!

And if that’s not your flavor, why not wander around their selection of locally-grown, beautiful mums, and choose a few to purchase from their wide range of colors?

The Whistling Well Country Store

When you’re done with the day’s adventures, The Whistling Well Country Store stocks various delicious goodies to eat, including jellies, preserves, pumpkin butter, maple syrup, pancake mix, and fresh pies and tarts.

Overhead view of a jar of apple jelly and apples.  Apple jelly is just one of the many delicious things to buy at Whistling Well Farm.

You can also buy ready-picked apples if you’re choosing not to pick your own.

If you’re looking for a keepsake, multi-talented Charlie has written several children’s books chronicling his loyal companion Emmy’s adventures on the farm. Adorable plushies and t-shirts can be purchased for the kids too.

Fun for the Whole Family

Whistling Well Farm is open daily for apple picking and visiting. There are special events, like live music, and food trucks for families to enjoy on weekends. Parking is free.

Wagons are even available for visitors to cruise around the farm! Plus, well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, provided their humans clean up after them.

For the kids, there are adorable farm animals that love entertaining, including barn cats, chickens, donkeys, and goats. There is also a safe climbing area for them to enjoy under adult supervision.

A toddler girl petting a goat in a pen.  Friendly farm animals are some of the attractions for children at Whistling Well Farm.


Whistling Well Farm is committed to a bee-friendly orchard management style. They have partnered with Cornell University to practice integrated pest management, thereby limiting harm to the environment.  

Apart from offering an incredible orchard experience, the Johnson family grows apples for farmer’s markets, local co-ops, and school lunch programs.

Closeup of a bee pollinating a white apple blossom.  Whistling Well Farm is committed to being a bee-friendly orchard.

Visit Whistling Well Farm

Visiting Whistling Well Farm feels like visiting family, and the Johnsons pride themselves on an authentic Minnesota apple orchard experience. If you’re looking for a fun family activity, it doesn’t get any better than this. There’s plenty to see and do and you’re supporting an orchard that helps others.

Excited for more fall activity ideas? Then keep discovering Minnesota apple orchards to visit this apple season!