Picking the pumpkins

By Morgan Thornburg
Flapjack Chronicle staff

After another long day in the sun, Kara McConnell announces that the patch is closed for the day and begins to zip up the tent that covers hundreds of brightly colored pumpkins. Last minute customers rush in with their wagons, happily leaving with their golden finds. This is the scene that ends each October day at the Warren Creek Farm’s pumpkin patch.
Around 1,300 kids have visited the patch so far, McConnell says.
“Schools from all over this area, from Hydesville to Fortuna, will come through along with various families throughout the day,” she explains.
By the end of the October, McConnell notes that there are usually about 500-600 pumpkins lefts over, most of which will be eaten by the cows.
The pumpkins at Warren Creek’s patch cost 75 cents per pound.
“Stealing does happen,” McConnel says. “I’ve seen people try to load up their entire car without paying.”
The Warren Creek Patch is open 1-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays throughout October. In addition to selling hundreds and hundreds of different types of pumpkins, the patch also features a corn maze for children to journey through and a produce stand containing various other farm goods.
But the pumpkins create the main attraction. Farm owner Paul Giuntoli has been growing pumpkins on his farm for 22 years now.
“This was an okay season for how cold its been,” he notes. “Number-wise we have a few less  pumpkins than other years, but due to the extra moisture their sizes are all much bigger.”
Giuntoli grows about twenty different varieties of pumpkins.
“I couldn’t even venture to guess how many are out there – there are thousands,” he says. “White, orange, green, pink, bumpy, lumpy, smooth – We’ve got it all! According to a kid who passed through today, we even have pumpkins with acne!”
Customers may either venture into the fields to collect pumpkins on their own, or make their selections from baskets of brightly colored pumpkins beneath the tent.
But what exactly does one do with so many pumpkins, other than the obvious carving of jack-o-lanterns and decorating for trick-or-treaters? Giuntoli and his family use the pumpkins to make a variety of desserts such as pies and cookies.
“We don’t really get tired of it,” he says. “Besides, they are so beautiful in these fields that would otherwise lack any color at all.”
The patch is full of happy faces as parents, children, and college students roam the fields. Humboldt State attendee Tara Brooks comments on the incredible variety.
“There are just so many!” she exclaims. “I can’t pick just one.”

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