Pumpkin patch in full swing

Wagon rides, farm animals and more

Trish Sturdy quietly counts the number of school groups yet to come.
“There’s a lot. We start with the school groups after Thanksgiving,” the owner of North Arm Farm said. “We’ve got groups coming for the next two weeks.”
What they’re coming for is the four-acre pumpkin patch on the Pemberton farm. The squash plants were transplanted to the field in May. Four months later, the jack-o’-lanterns are ready for the picking.
“Last week, we had 63 children up from Whistler and another 40 from Pemberton,” Sturdy added.
The 60-acre working farm has been planting and opening up its pumpkin patch to the public for the last 15 years. For many in the Sea to Sky Corridor, visiting the orange field has become a staple activity in October. On weekends during the month, families hunt for their favourite pumpkin and take a wagon ride drawn by Blackcomb Sleighride’s friendly-giants, the Percheron draft horses.  Visitors have a chance to learn about the farm’s practicing methodology and visit its animals.
Although it’s a busy time of year, Sturdy said she loves watching the young children’s excitement in picking their own pumpkin. Inevitably, they all want to haul out the largest winter squash they find.
“We tell them they can only take what they can carry,” Sturdy said. “You would be surprised with what they struggle with.”
Ninety-two per cent of pumpkin sales across the country take place around Thanksgiving and Halloween,  according to Statistics Canada. The remainder is processed into canned pumpkin pie mixes and similar products, the agriculture division’s report stated. In B.C., the largest areas devoted to pumpkins are found in the Lower Mainland, in which 149 farms grow 375 hectares of pumpkins.
North Arm Farm’s pumpkin patch is open until the first weekend of November. There are always scads of pumpkins left over, Sturdy said. The plants take a toll on the earth, so the pumpkins are often left to rot to put nutrients back into the soil.
“We also fed them to the pigs and sheep,” Sturdy said.
For more information on the farm and pumpkin patch, visit www.northarmfarm.com. Wagon rides are $3 a person and pumpkins are charged by the pound.

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