By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer
Fall brings out harvest festivals and fun days spent on farms with a variety of produce to pick and purchase to enjoy for a meal or to add a touch of autumn to a home’s décor. Swift’s Pumpkins of Bronson hosted a one day event on Saturday, September 30 with a large selection of pumpkins, squashes and gourds and an opportunity to educate the public about agriculture.
Lee and Karen Swift have been growing pumpkins for 20 years and decided to open their property to the public for a Farm Fun Day. The autumnal offerings on that day included munchkin pumpkins, Indian corn, a myriad of colorful mum plants, bales of straw for decorating, squirrel corn, bundles of broom corn, and small gourds. A small gift shop contained painted gourds, baked goods featuring pumpkin, and gourds with artistically cut designs in them.
The Swifts planned several backdrops for picture taking. One was designed to look like a fence with several farm-style props in front of it. The children could sit upon a pedal tractor or a bale of hay with statues of hogs, cows, and chickens surrounding them. There were also garden tools and mums to round out the scene.
The Swifts grow many acres of pumpkins, squashes, gourds, peppers, and other specialty crops. Their focus was on the pumpkins with the basic traditional orange ones being the most predominant on that day. They also had a number of unusual varieties available such as the cheese-type, so named because the shape of the body is similar to that of a wheel of cheese, and the ones with warts on them. Additional colors of pumpkins shared that day were pink, brown, green, blue, and white.
Gourds and squashes were displayed on tables with fun variety names like carnival and heart of gold squash. Traditional favorites also made appearances with butternut, buttercup, acorn and spaghetti squash for sale. Families could shop with wagons that were available as they entered the yard, and free doughnuts and cider were offered.
While the Farm Day was a great success with fun activities, it was also an opportunity to visit with visitors from the community and explain what they do. They farm 75 acres along with working day jobs. The pumpkins are a ‘hobby’ business with 15 acres devoted to them.
They raise zucchinis, summer squash, cucumbers, and winter squashes on an additional five acres. Though they only have one and a half acres for the peppers, primarily sweet bell with some jalapeno and banana, that acreage is planted with 17,000 plants. Now that is a lot of peppers! The rest of the land is used to produce basic commodity crops such as corn and soybeans.
They are planning for another event in 2018 with more vendors, additional attractions for children such as mazes, and enjoyable activities for the adults.