Pick-your-own fun for all the family at Pumpkin Picking Patches
EVERY MEMBER of the family can have plenty of fun in the great outdoors at Pumpkin Picking Patches this October — and there will be lots of the Halloween favourites to go around, with in excess of 200,000 pumpkins planted, incorporating 32 varieties, including Crown Prince, Cinderella Pumpkin, Casparitas, the small Munchkins, the warty Knucklehead and the big white Polar Bear.
This year there are FOUR pumpkin-filled sites, each one offering pick-your-own pumpkins, as well as Halloween crafts — perfect for little people who love to make things, as well as bigger people who enjoy carving pumpkins for the big day itself and who enjoy cooking with these versatile fruits.
The four sites are in Bath (Somerset), Cardiff (South Wales), Fordingbridge (Hampshire) and Sompting (West Sussex). Bath, Cardiff and Fordingbridge will open on 10-11, 17-18 and 24-31 October, from 9.30am until 4pm, while Sompting will open on 17-18 and 24-31 October during the same hours. Every site has it’s own large car park and parking and entry is free — yes totally FREE!
Niall Smith, the ‘pumpkinologist’ who, along with his Dutch partner Suzanne Hennekens, is the driving force behind Pumpkin Picking Patches, comments: “Everyone who comes to our Pumpkin Picking Patches is guaranteed a great time. There are literally thousands of pumpkins at every site. People collect a wheelbarrow in which they can ‘round up’ their perfect pumpkins — all for an incredibly reasonable price. Our pumpkins, which come in a huge array of sizes, start at just £1. Our Pumpkin Picking Patches are the perfect places to get children away from their gadgets and let them run around in the fresh air. There aren’t many attractions these days that are free to enter, and after some cost-effective pumpkin picking fun, you drive home with your car boot full of these glorious fruits to craft and cook at home!”
At the Sompting Pumpkin Picking Patch, located at Lytchpole Farm on the A27 between the Worthing to Brighton turn at the traffic lights onto Halewick Lane (postcode: BN15 0NE), visitors will find in excess of 60,000 awesome pumpkins ripe for the picking on a 14-acre site. Additionally, children (and adults, of course) can hunt for Toad, check out the amazing new photo opportunities and the famous pumpkin house. Also why not try making your own witch’s broom — for flying as opposed to brushing! — or craft your own magic wand, or tin can bat. Hot and cold snacks will be on sale.
Everything that Niall and Suzanne do is undertaken with ‘green’ credentials in mind, meaning that wood has been sourced and coppiced locally for the creative art of making magic wands and brooms, they have adopted a no-plastic policy, and they have also cut the energy needed to print their billboards and signs by 40% using UV printing techniques.
The couple came up with the idea of their Pumpkin Picking Patches two years ago.
“We have worked in events and catering for over 20 years and before that we did new business developments for companies in the UK and abroad,” explains Niall. “We were invited to a Pumpkin Patch to do coffee and food and we realised what an amazing business venture pumpkins would be. We really saw the potential and dipped our toes in in 2018, but are now fully committed to Pumpkin Picking Patches.”
This year Pumpkin Picking Patch has employed 40 staff to help run its four sites — the most it has ever had, and which it runs alongside its two mazes (www.pickingpatch.com). The sowing of 210,000 pumpkins over 35 acres has been done by the farming owners of the fields with a machine called a drill.
Creative chefs or charities that provide cooked nutritious meals for the homeless or other groups are also being sought, as Niall and Suzanne, conscious that not all gourds will be picked by the end of October, will need them to go to a good home. Anyone interested is urged to get in touch regarding this wonderful cooking ingredient.
And if anyone planning a trip to a Pumpkin Picking Patch is worried about the weather — don’t be. All sites will remain open during wet conditions, but visitors should dress accordingly, in raincoat and wellies (witches and wizards hats optional). In extreme weather, if closure is unavoidable, messages will be posted on the website (https://pickingpatch.com) and social media.