Let there be pumpkinsPublished 11:35am Friday, September 28, 2012
For this and more stories on local destinations and community organizations, check out Southern Exposure, published today.
Despite a recent stretch of dry weather, Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch is ready for this year’s pumpkin picking.
“The pumpkin crop will be good this fall,” said John Ulland, AKA Farmer John.
John and his wife, Jan, began growing pumpkins in 1988 as an unsuccessful way to control weeds in the feedlot. However, the resulting pumpkins needed to be marketed. It took about one year of labor to pick, clean and haul pumpkins to stores in Austin, Albert Lea, Blooming Prairie and Lacrosse, Wis.
“We then realized there must be a better way to market pumpkins,” John said.
After a friend asked if he could bring his grandchildren out to pick their own pumpkins, John had his answer: Let the kids do the work.
Now, Farmer John’s is one of the area’s few pumpkin patches, and the eight-acre patch contains more than 30 pumpkin varieties — small and large, smooth or bumpy as well as several colors. Children from day cares and kindergarten students from the area arrange annual field trips to Farmer John’s.
“We schedule about 50 groups each year,” Ulland said. “We take our program to Apple Lane, St. Edward’s, Riverland, the YMCA, pre school, and also to Owatonna for their SAC (School Age Care) program.”
Each baby born after October 15, 2011, will receive a free pumpkin. Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch opened Sept. 22 and is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. until Oct. 31.
Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch
90537 273rd St., Austin — just west of Mower Freeborn Road between Highway 251 and 270th.
Open daily, noon to 6 p.m. through Oct. 31.
Free horse drawn wagon rides: 1-4 p.m. on Sunday Sept. 30, and they’ll continue on the Sundays of Oct. 7, 14 and 21.