Until this year, my son’s elementary school had always arranged a field trip to a local pumpkin farm. There, they would take a hay ride and choose their very own pumpkin to bring home and carve up with mom.
I guess third grade was the cut-off for this kind of earthy escapade: a mere two weeks until Halloween, and there had still been no mention of any pumpkin (or any other) field trips.
Recalling the fun of years past, I decided to arrange a trip to a local pumpkin patch, myself. When I was a child, my family we never took this kind of trip, either through school or with the family: we simply got our pumpkins from the grocery store.
But since I have become rather fond of attending my son’s pumpkin patch field trips–and since I wasn’t quite ready to give up on them yet–I knew that this year, it was all up to me.
I used the Internet to find a couple of local pumpkin patches to visit, and opted for the one that also purported to have a spooky Halloween castle. Unfortunately, my son and I had some problems actually getting there. The address Mapquest had provided for the farm was, it turned out, not an actual used entrance to the farm, but rather a back entrance that had been blocked off (barricaded, actually) for quite some time. In the end, my son and I went to our second choice pumpkin patch–the one we could actually find the entrance to.
The pumpkin patch we visited was smaller, did not have as many cool activities, and was (believe it or not) more expensive–in part, because they charged not only admission, but also charged 49 cents per pound for the pumpkins we chose. (Our first choice farm charged one all-inclusive fee.) But we still had a good time and learned some valuable lessons for next time.
Here are 7 things to consider when making plans to visit a pumpkin patch this year–or any year, for that matter.
- Confirm your driving directions in advance. GPS directions are AWESOME, and directions printed out from Mapquest.com are a reasonable substitute. However, you should always confirm specific directions with the farm/pumpkin patch website, a flyer, or by calling the establishment and speaking with someone directly. Make sure to obtain information about which entrance to the farm should be used, if there is more than one entrance. Having the wrong information can mean you won’t get in.
- Bring along some extra cash. Sometimes, there are fun extras for sale at the pumpkin patch–but the staff may be unable to accept plastic. Items for sale may include homemade jellies and jams, syrups, canned items, hot apple cider, or homemade ice cream. Sometimes, additional fresh veggies or flowers grown on the farm may be also be available.
- Bring a pocket knife along. (Just be sure you keep it secured, and away from the children.) You may need something sharp to help cut your or your child’s pumpkin off its vine. (This happened to us, and I spent several minutes trying to twist the sucker loose. Yikes!) You could be tempted to bring a letter opener instead of a pocket knife–but let’s face it, that’s not ideal. (kidding)
- Wear tennis shoes–but not your nicest ones. You may be walking through dirt, mud, or other … um … farm products on your quest for that perfect pumpkin. Comfortable shoes are a must–but make sure they’re ones you don’t mind getting messy, if necessary, and are machine washable.
- Wear comfy, washable clothes. When hiking your chosen pumpkin up into your arms, you’re likely to get mud from the gourd on your shirt and pants–so be prepared. And remember, it’s all part of the fun!
- Make sure to leave enough time for the experience. You don’t want your family to feel rushed to get in and out, and on your way to do something else. Take time to savor the experience with your family. You may even want to consider inviting a few friends along.
- Bring a camera! You’re going to love to look back on the memories you create today.