My pal Bernice and I sat down at the Embarcadero watching the sun set behind Point Loma more than an hour earlier than it did a couple of months ago. “Summer’s gone,” I sighed. “Back to the school-year grind. My one consolation is that autumn is my favorite season of the year — the cool breezes, the changing leaves, the sweaters...”
“And pumpkins,” Bernice interjected. “I was just reading about them. Did you know the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed over 2000 pounds. It was grown in Germany last year.”
“No, I didn’t know. All my knowledge of pumpkins I learned from Charlie Brown,” I laughed.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Bernice quoted.
“Exactly. Hey, what do you say we bring the kids out to a pumpkin patch this fall,” I suggested, “rather than just bringing home pumpkins from Sprouts or Walmart?”
Thus began my quest for the Great Pumpkin Patch of San Diego.
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in Lakeside opened its pumpkin picking to the public on September 29. Children’s admission is $10 (ages 1 to 13), and it includes a pumpkin and a water bottle. Adults cost $5. If your group is larger than 20 people, reservations are needed. The farm offers hayrides every half hour and the ride accommodates around 100 people. There is a hay-bale maze, a petting corral, a sand pile, a Cottonseed Mountain for the kids to climb, and a racetrack for tricycle racers. The gift shop sells seasonal items...Indian corn anyone? The farm is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Group field trips are scheduled for mornings, so come in the afternoon if you are not with a field trip.
Picturesque Lavender Hill Pumpkin Farm, located in Fallbrook, opens for pickers on October 3. With 10,000 organically grown pumpkins, there are plenty for the picking, from the 300-pound North Atlantic Giants down to the sweet little Jack B. Littles. The farm just offers pumpkins and lots of them; you will find no petting zoo or carnival rides here. The farm is open Wednesday through Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unsold pumpkins by the end of October are given to children in the community who might not otherwise have their own pumpkin.
Suzie’s Farms, located in south San Diego, is hosting Pumpkin Palooza on October 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 120-acre organic farm will be opening up its two acres of pumpkin crops for visitors to choose for their fall decorating. Farm tours, food trucks, and live music will add to the festivity of the day.
Stehly Farms Organics in Valley Center is offering October Pumpkin Patch, a day of pumpkin picking, on Sunday, October 18. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can choose your own. Admission tickets ($5) need to be purchased online.
Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch has been growing fresh produce for over a half century. Starting on September 24 right on through the night of costumes and ghouls, the farm’s patch of pumpkins will be open for the picking. Located in Valley Center, the farm grows a variety of pumpkins from the big daddy Big Macs to the minis. There are animals to pet, ponies to ride, tractor hayrides, a straw maze, a rock-climbing wall, and live entertainment on the weekends. For all the creative creatures, the farm is offering a Scarecrow Contest on October 10, from 11 a.m. to noon. Bring your scarecrow creation to the farm before 10 a.m. on October 10, and each entry will receive a free pumpkin. First-place winner goes home with $200 and a $50 gift certificate.
Admission is free but parking on weekends in October costs $5.
Julian Pumpkin Patch at Julian Mining Company opens for pumpkin choosing on September 29. The patch offers pumpkins, hayrides, petting zoo, and cider-press. Pumpkins cost around $.50 per pound. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for kids. The pumpkin patch is open Friday from noon until 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.