By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Farmhouse Inn, located on the outskirts of Madison, welcomed two groups of foreign exchange students studying at Georgia Tech this summer to their 105-acre farm last weekend. On Friday, a group of 30 Korean students visited the farm, becoming the first group from Korea to visit. On Saturday, a group of 100 Chinese students arrived at the farm, a tradition going on for the last 10 years.
Farmhouse Inn Owners, Dr. Ellis Johnson and his wife Crystal Johnson, look forward to hosting the group each year. Ellis taught as an industrial engineer professor at Georgia Tech and Crystal is originally from China, having moved to American just seven years ago.
“This is the largest group that has come so far in all the years we’ve done this,” said Ellis. “We couldn’t be happier to do this.”
Each group of students arrived at charming Farmhouse Inn for an afternoon of rural exploration, local history, and regional cuisine.
“It’s exciting to introduce these students to this part of America,” said Crystal, who noted the students loved the southern barbeque served and became enchanted with the rural surroundings. The simple pleasures of rural living fascinated the students, such as playing with the farm’s dogs, horses, and donkeys and taking turns on the tire swing.
“Students ask me if they can stay here forever,” said Crystal.
“A lot of these programs focus on introducing the students to big cities, such as L.A. or Atlanta, which is great, but this is a pretty unique opportunity for them to come out here and see something a lot of them wouldn’t get to see otherwise,” said Charles DuBose, assistant manager of the Farmhouse Inn. “We talk to them a little bit about the founding of Morgan County and the antebellum history through the Civil War. From there, we move on to the farm. It was purchased by Dr. Johnson about 26 years ago, with just a few animal barns on site. Since then, we built the inn, a homeowners association was established, and in the last year, we have added large solar panels. Earlier this year, moved the historic Sugar Creek Baptist Chapel to the farm, which is being used for wedding venues and conferences and church retreats,” explained DuBose. The farm now features 150 chickens, two horses, a miniature donkey, a turkey, seven goats, a few baby goats. “We just recently got a baby peacock and baby guinea fowls. The students always love seeing baby animals,” added DuBose.
After touring the farm, which included the recently added historic Sugar Creek Baptist Chapel, and learning about the history of Morgan County and the Farmhouse Inn, students headed into downtown Madison to tour the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center and stop by Scoops Ice Cream for refreshing summer treats in the Georgia summer heat.
“The students always love the ice cream here,” said Crystal. “That’s usually their favorite part of the trip.”
The Johnson look forward to welcoming future exchange students in coming years, hoping the Farmhouse Inn will be an unforgettable part of their grand adventure studying in America.