Autumn in Florida is really so much different from my childhood in New England. Bound and determined to pick a pumpkin here in Florida off the vine instead of one piled upon pallets of wood at some make-shift “pumpkin patch”, I reckoned there must be SOME place to do just that here in Florida. After searching through the internet for a few days, I found a farm that grows its own pumpkins here in Florida. I thought it might be too good to be true, but we set off on a road trip to the Pickin’ Patch recently in Dunnellon, near the Ocala Drive-In and Rainbow Springs. As a gardener from the northeastern part of the United States, I knew that pumpkins don’t typically grow well here in Florida because they need a cool, dry climate to thrive. Florida, with its wet and hot climate, is not even close to the ideal place for growing pumpkins.
As soon as we arrived at the Pickin’ Patch in Dunnellon we knew it was worth the almost two and a half hour trip. This place is first rate and well kept. It is the epitome of a good ol’ fashioned family farm, complete with good ol’ fashioned fun for a day. There is a different bluegrass band playing under a shady tent for some foot -stompin’ music to set the tone.
There are fields of white pumpkins, blue pumpkins, pink (ish) pumpkins, and traditional orange pumpkins. There are many opportunities for photo ops, too.
Upon entry to the farm, we encountered an area with bales of hay along with fall-inspired decorations for multiple photo ops, along with a concession stand (with a BIG jug of hand sanitizer). There is a five dollar admission fee to go into the pumpkin patch and corn maize, and it was well worth it. The employee who guided us to the entrance used riddle-filled sentences to greet us and explain where to go and what to do. Pumpkin prices are good and not exorbitant prices like you find at some pumpkin patches.
The family that runs this place is not shy about giving glory to God for the miracle of the pumpkins that grow there in Florida. Each season, they select a Bible verse that captures their sentiments about the bounty of the season, and these Bible verses line one of the walkways into the patch.
There is a gourd tunnel right in front of the corn maze that invites visitors to write a thought, prayer, or sentiment on a piece of paper to hang from a gourd.
The family that owns the farm and its employees are welcoming to all but don’t throw religion into your face. No one spoke about religion there to us, but the family’s dedication to God was evident throughout. I admire this family at a time where one’s personal, political, and religious beliefs are so negatively targeted in our current society. Each pumpkin is quietly tagged with a Bible verse, too, to inspire hope and peace at a tough time during the pandemic.
While walking out of the farm, I noticed a person who appeared to be in charge. I stopped her and told her how much I admired her dedication to God and her religion, along with her gutsy displays of glory to God. Her name was Sarah Thomas, and she was so very warm and friendly. I admire her hard work and her humility as well.
While walking in the pumpkin fields, it brought me along a stroll down memory lane, too, as I couldn’t help but think of our late grandmother who used squash flowers to fry up in the frying pan whenever they were available as a snack from time to time.
The Pickin’ Patch is open on Fridays from 3-7, Saturdays from 10-7, and Sundays from from 12-7 and is well worth the trip.
While we may not have found the “The Great Pumpkin” at the Pickin’ Patch, we found many GREAT pumpkins there!
Life is good; carpe diem, friends……….