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A Perfect Patch

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Pumpkin shortage caused by flooding in the northeast could benefit local growers

By Tracy Harris

The Great Pumpkin is alive and well in Oldham County this season, despite shortages across other pumpkin-farming states.

Pumpkin crops in many northeastern states were devastated by Hurricane Irene, which flooded fields in August. Even before that, heavy rains in the northeast delayed plantings, setting back the Halloween-timed main harvest.

In Oldham, however, pumpkins had a good season, according to several area farmers. 

“I think our pumpkin patch has gotten better every year,” said Maggie Keith, an owner of Foxhollow Farm in Crestwood. “They’ve done a lot better than expected.”

Keith said Dylan Kennedy, who managed the three acres of pumpkin fields this year, did have to do some watering during this summer’s drier months, but only about 10 times.

But Foxhollow staff members have done a lot of other hands-on labor, Keith said, including rotating them and picking off bugs – Foxhollow doesn’t use any chemicals on its farm.

David Neville, of Capstone Produce Market in Campbellsburg, said the northeastern shortage has provided an opportunity for local growers to sell more pumpkins to out-of-state buyers. New buyers have come to Capstone this season for pumpkins, including ones as far as upstate New York, he said.

For vendors looking to buy pumpkins, Capstone offers a more time-efficient way to find sellers, Neville said. 

Instead of tying up half their day calling multiple producers only to find they’re sold out, Neville said buyers come to Capstone and know right away what’s available. 

But, for those families looking for the pick-your-own experience, Foxhollow’s patch has been gaining in popularity, Keith said, especially with the Sherman Minton bridge closure.

“More people are staying close,” she said, instead of driving to places like Joe Huber’s Family Farm in Starlight, Ind.

But, even without the traffic hassle, Keith has seen pumpkin sales grow. In 2008, the one-acre patch sold out in two weeks. 

The next year, she expanded it to two acres, and had just enough for October. 

The bigger pumpkin patch has had some special help, too. 

Young women from Maryhurst again helped plant a section of the field. 

“The ones they planted are the best ones,” Keith said. 

Maryhurst provides a residential treatment program for teenage girls who have been abused, neglected or traumatized. The organization also provides group home settings for girls and boys, foster care and after-school care for at-risk youth.

This Saturday, Foxhollow will host its fourth-annual festival benefiting Maryhurst. The festival will feature the pumpkin patch, along with hay and pony rides, live music and farm-fresh food.

“Pumpkins like this farm, and we like pumpkins,” Keith said.

Prices at Foxhollow range from $4 to $10 depending on size, Keith said, with really small ones at $1 each.

Several other places in Oldham County have pumpkins for sale, including Reardon’s Fruit Market in Crestwood.