Pumpkin patches welcome pickers

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Those seeking the ever-elusive great pumpkin have a few more days, and a patch worth of local locations to aid in the hunt. Picking through a pumpkin patch is just something you’ve got to do as Halloween approaches, gourd growers say. “I can see so many children running through the pumpkin patch and explaining that they found the perfect pumpkin,” said Caren Hamilton. “It seems like such a simple joy. A lot of people really seem to enjoy that simple experience.” Hamilton is co-owner of the Sweet & Simple U-Pick Pumpkin Patch, part of the Natural Trading Company, an organic farm in Newcastle. “I think it’s such a special time to visit a farm, in the fall,” Hamilton said. “It’s cool, and it’s beautiful and it’s just good, natural fun.” This marks the first year Natural Trading Company has grown pumpkins. Pumpkins meant for carving and culinary delights alike are available for picking and purchase. “We have all sorts of wacky gourds too,” Hamilton said. “People can pick their own, everything is grown here, and we have a little pumpkin store if you want the lazy pumpkin experience.” Debi Powell said this is the second year she and husband Larry Powell are growing and selling pumpkins at the Poppy Lane Christmas Farms in Auburn. They sold 22,000 pounds of pumpkins last year, and anticipate selling 30,000 pounds this season. “It’s so much fun, and we’re setting up anyway for Christmas,” she said. “It’s such a fun, fun family activity.” The Powells have created an amusement park-like pumpkin patch, featuring not only the orange gourds but also bounce houses and an inflatable slide, Poppy the Pony, a craft shop, haystacks and a tractor ride. They are open daily through Halloween. “It’s very, very family oriented — nothing scary or spooky,” Powell said. “It’s all harvest, and fun.” Nancyjo Riekse, Placer County agriculture marketing director, is happy with the abundance of Placer pumpkins and farms offering you-pick pumpkin patches. “I think it’s special because we haven’t had any local on-farm pumpkin patches for years, and now we’re seeing them popping up. I know that the kids are going to love it, and there’s nothing better than seeing them out there, seeing the pumpkins connected to the vine. It’s like going out and cutting down your Christmas tree.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at, or comment online at