Pumpkin Picking at Your Local Farm
This time of year, you’ll find bins overflowing with pumpkins at your local grocery stores. Yes, they are inexpensive, but there truly is nothing like going to your local pumpkin patch to hunt for the perfect pumpkin.
Visiting our local farm has been a family tradition since the kids were tiny. They’ve been enticed by giant hay forts- disappearing in the bales and sliding down slides. We’ve wandered through fields of sunflowers that towered over our heads, and have gotten lost through the twisty turns of the crop mazes. We’ve perched on bales of hay to take tractor rides around the pumpkin fields- keeping our eyes out for that perfect pumpkin, and walked down the neat rows, a red wagon in tow, in search of the best pumpkin.
Those pumpkins in the grocery store bins may be cheaper than the ones at your local farm, but the family memories you make at a pumpkin patch are priceless.
Finding My Nearest Pumpkin Patch
Not everyone lives in a small town with a convenient pumpkin farm nearby, so if you are looking for your nearest pumpkin patch, Good Housekeeping has an article showcasing the best pumpkin patch in each state. I can’t vouch for the 49 others, but Florida’s Pumpkin Patch in Dunnellon is a good family-fun pick! However, this leaves out a plethora of other places.
You can find the pumpkin patch closest to you at Pumpkin Patches & More. This all-about-pumpkins website lists farms and patches across the entire United States, as well as pumpkin recipes and fun facts too. Click on your state name on the main page and you’ll be taken to that state page, complete with an interactive map with clickable counties to find your closest picking patch. As they say on the main page, call ahead before you go in case they aren’t open, or have been affected by recent storms.
Tips on Visiting Your Pumpkin Patch
- These are working farms, and are only open to the public on certain days, usually weekends & maybe Friday afternoon. Check their website to find out their times and make sure they are open before you drive there.
- If you don’t usually carry cash, check ahead to see if they take cards- not all of them do.
- Wear closed toed shoes for exploring.
- Don’t pick any pumpkins you aren’t going to buy.
- The farms will usually supply cutters for cutting your pumpkin from the vine. Leave these in charge of an adult, and return them when you are finished.
- Our farm, and others, provide little wagons to help you carry your pumpkins. They can get very heavy- and they are handy for carting around kids when they get tired of walking 😉
- Respect the farm and their rules. This is someone’s livelihood, and may even be the only main crop for that farm.
How Much is that Pumpkin?
Before you head out on your pumpkin picking expedition, find out how much the pumpkins are priced. They are usually priced by sized, but can also be priced by variety. Take a snap shot of their pricing display if they have one, so you won’t end up with sticker shock and a load of picked pumpkins you can’t afford.
Farm to Table Fare and Pumpkin Carving
If you balk at paying a higher price for a farm-fresh pumpkin just to carve for Halloween, you may want to purchase a cheaper one for carving and use the farm one for cooking- your farmer can tell you which is the best ones for pies/stews/seeds.
As for pumpkin carving- your fresh pumpkin will last up about 8-12 weeks after picking if kept properly stored, however, once you start carving it, it has a life of 3-5 days before mildew and rot sets in- shorter in hotter/humid climates. If you have your sights set on carving a pumpkin for Halloween, plan accordingly.
A lot of the pumpkin farms have fantastic mazes. The world’s biggest is a 28 acre maze- with over 10 miles of trails at Richardson Adventure Farm in Illinois. I love mazes, but have no sense of direction- I’d be lost for days lol. If you are heading into a crop maze, bring your cell-phone with one of those
find-my-mom find-my-phone apps turned on- if you’re like me 😉
How Not to Do a Corn Maze
We headed into the maze as a family, but anyone with teenagers (or tweens) knows that those moments are fleeting, and immediately the kids bolted in different directions. My husband vanished, swallowed up by the the tall tunnels of sorghum, and the path closed in around me. I was alone and lost somewhere deep in a corn maze. Check video on getting lost in the corn maze.
Do you have a favorite pumpkin patch? Let us know in the comments below!