It’s officially October, and Halloween is just around the corner. The witching hour is almost upon us. Soon, child-sized goblins, ghouls, ghosts and ghastly cartoon characters will be tromping about our streets, searching to satiate their unquenchable desire for… no, not brains—candy! But until the night of the 31st, those little monsters are still our little angels, and they’re enjoying all the activities that lead up to Halloween, including picking out their pumpkins.
Now, you could go to the grocery store and pick your pumpkin out of a bin. There’s nothing wrong with that—many a good, solid pumpkin has been plucked from a superstore bin around our beautiful province of Ontario. But here at York Durham Headwaters, where so much of our region is wonderfully rural, and where so many of our local farmers are eager to share their way of life with visitors, we think pick-your-own is the way to go.
Why stop at just the pumpkin? Turn the task of selecting your Jack O’Lantern into a fun-filled day of memory-making at one of our local pick-your-own pumpkin farms.
Note: Be sure to check the website of the pick-your-own farm you would like to visit for its individual COVID-19 protocols and policies.
Pumpkin Fun at Forsythe Family Farms
Forsythe Family Farms is just one of our many pick-your-own pumpkin farms here in YDH. Located in Uxbridge, this farm has been in operation since 1972. Owned and operated by Jim Forsythe and his wife Leslie, becoming a farmer was a childhood dream of Jim’s. From farming his backyard garden as a kid, to becoming a farmhand in his teen years, to purchasing his very own plot of land, Forsythe Family Farms is a dream come true for this salt-of-the-earth grower.
Today, Forsythe is all about local food fresh from the farm, and provides a number of pick-your-own opportunities and educational resources to get people interested in knowing where their food comes from. “We start the pick-your-own season with strawberries,” Farmer Jim says. “We also do peas and beans. There are tomatoes—we have lots of tomatoes still for people to pick and take home, and we even have a flower garden, where people can cut their own bouquet of flowers. We give them a mason jar to take them home in. They really love that.”
But we are here to talk about the pumpkins, of course. Forsythe operates both a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, and also a Pumpkin Corral, where you can choose from pre-picked pumpkins, if the field seems a little daunting to you. “That keeps us busy this time of year,” Jim says fondly. “People love the pumpkins. Some want them round and some want tall. But it’s wonderful to see all the kids squealing with joy as they’re running around the pumpkin patch trying to find their perfect pumpkin. I have three grandkids, so it’s always a treat seeing the little ones have so much fun.”
That’s what it’s about, isn’t it? For many of us, farm life is a distant thing. Not part of our everyday. But thanks to the entrepreneurial efforts of farms around YDH like Forsythe, we’re allowed to step into their world for a day and see what it’s all about. Your pumpkin isn’t something you pick off a shelf at your nearby grocery store. It’s something you pick off a vine, in the field where it grew, from amongst hundreds of glowing orange pumpkins that grew there at the same time. Visiting the pumpkin patch gives kids a chance to get their hands dirty, to point to a pumpkin and say, “I want that one,” then actually go to it and pluck it from the ground and take it home.
On Halloween night, when your Jack is carved and glowing on your front porch or in your front-facing window, your kids will have an extra sense of pride in knowing where that Jack came from, and how it came to be on their very own door step.
Other Fun at Forsythe
As with many of our YDH pick-your-own pumpkin farms, there is more to do on your day in the pumpkin patch than just getting your pumpkin and leaving. At Forsythe Family Farms, kids can get lost in Forsythe’s corn maze, or go on an adventure on Forsythe’s farm and forest trails. For parents, Forsythe offers naturally raised meats and eggs and a farm market. It also runs a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) food share program. “The CSA program is where you invest in the harvest to support the farmers, and in return, you get a share of the crop fresh from the field,” Farmer Jim explains. “You can choose either a weekly or a bi-weekly option, depending on the season and what you choose to do.” The CSA program run by Forsythe and other farms like it is a wonderful way to enjoy sustainably grown fruits and vegetables while supporting your local farming community.
We’d also like to mention Forsythe Family Farms’ Giving Garden—an initiative which is a wonderful example of local growers going above and beyond. “We have set aside one-and-a-half acres on our farm to grow vegetables that people can take and give to people who maybe don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or who need a helping hand,” Farmer Jim explains. “We’re blessed with all of this bounty, and it is something we want to share.” Forsythe’s goal is to enable generosity in others, and families, individuals, groups and corporations are all invited to participate in the garden by helping plant, maintain and harvest the crops growing. Excess produce is donated to the food bank and community groups who are able to distribute to hungry families and those in need.
So you see, a day at a pick-your-own pumpkin farm is about more than just the pumpkins—although, at this time of year, pumpkins are the most awesome part of the visit. Get your kids excited about the big night by visiting Forsythe Family Farms (or another pick-your-own farm near you), and spend a day making memories out in the pumpkin patch.
1025 Cragg Rd., Uxbridge
Story by Katherine Ryalen