Old McMicky’s has been a favorite field trip destination for Bay area schools for 14 years, the Tampa Tribune says today. Janice and Earl Rodda provide an interactive farm experience where children can milk cows, ride ponies and feed chickens.
But since the Central Florida E. coli outbreak, where almost 30 people were infected with E. coli, petting zoos all around Florida have seen lower attendances and cancellations.
Old McMicky’s is one of the few petting farms to be state-licensed. State officials inspect the farm at least once a year and make unannounced visits as well. The farm has added extra hand-sanitizing stations and now requires all visitors to sanitize when they enter and exit the farm.
The farm has lost nearly $35,000 since the E. coli outbreak. The Hillsborough County School District has cancelled all of their field trips to the farm this year, which usually accounted for 75 percent of the farm’s springtime bookings. They have gone from 45 bookings a week to 8.
Canceled bookings have affected animal feed supplies, facility upkeep and the farm’s 20 employees. If the farm closes, Rodda said it’s not only the owners and employees who will suffer. “There will be a whole lot of kids who will never experience farm life,” Rodda said in today’s paper.