Authentic Pumpkin Patch?

Still an Authentic pumpkin patch

Imagine your family hopping up on a horse drawn wagon on a crisp autumn day. The leaves have just begun to change, and the view of the hills goes on for miles. There is an atmosphere of authenticity in the air. The family who is hosting this hayride lives on and from this farm. So do the horses who are pulling the wagon. They have all been fed from the products of this piece of soil. You hold the kids close to keep them on the bumpy wagon ride up the hill, and you are surprised to see pumpkins set out in a turnip patch. Suddenly it doesn’t feel quite so authentic. Have you been duped? Not at all. Please keep reading and I’ll be happy to tell you why we do it this way.

QUESTION: Do you grow your own pumpkins?

ANSWER: Yes we do, although we still have not mastered a technique which produces enough pumpkins without using pesticides and herbicides. We nurture a variety of life on our farm. We are proud that so many vulnerable species of amphibians live on this soil too. We are not willing to trade their wellbeing for a pest free pumpkin patch. Most agricultural pesticides would kill many more creatures than the targeted pest, including these thin skinned friends, and microbes that are at work in our soil keeping it healthy.

We care for this biodiversity, so instead of spraying our fields to boost our yields we continue to search for other options like cultivars and timing to achieve this goal. In the meantime we are proud to partner with other local farms to make sure there are enough pumpkins to go around.

salamander

 

QUESTION: So why don’t you leave the pumpkin vines out, and add the “off farm” pumpkins to the real patch?

ANSWER: I can see the argument to do this from the standpoint of education. If you would like your children to see a pumpkin growing on the vine I would be happy to show you one. There are usually some volunteers hiding in the fencerows that were overlooked. In fact, it’s a good idea. Next year I’ll have a mini patch just so kids can see them growing. But, if you’re interested in educating your family on topics of agriculture, let’s go ahead and take it a step further. It is important to me, as the steward of this land, that by the time hayride season rolls around, those pumpkin patches need to be planted in winter cover crops. Winter cover crops protect the soil from erosion, and keep the soil in better condition. Cover crops can add nutrients to the soil. They can eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers. Good soil practices like this decrease pollution of waterways. Cover crops help keep the nutrients out of the streams, and in the soils where they belong. There is the added benefit of having something fresh and green for my grazing animals to nibble on in late winter just before they give birth.

Ewe with two lambs in pasture

 

If you had any reservations about making Old Capitol Farm a destination for your family this fall, I hope you have renewed faith. We are not trying to fool anyone with our “set out” pumpkins. Your experience here can be very authentic. Perhaps more authentic now that you understand there are reasons why we do our pumpkin patch the way we do it. Enjoy the view. Enjoy the ride. Take a walk and look for the wildlife we are living with in harmony. Feel connected. Your patronage is part of what makes this work. Thank you. We hope to see you soon!

Horses and pumpkin patch

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