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A great pumpkin

 

Last updated 10/18/2007 at Noon



Make no mistake; this is a real pumpkin patch with gigantic pumpkins, tiny pumpkins and everything in-between. The largest pumpkin in the patch was of the Atlantic Giant variety and weighed 325 pounds. The patch even produced pumpkins that are now on their way to becoming television stars! The fields of pumpkins are grown with love on East Mission Road’s Lavender Hill pumpkin farm owned by Mike Pierce and his wife, Libby.

“A beautiful pumpkin makes people smile and when you see a whole field of them it makes people smile a lot,” said Mike.

Their first customer had driven from Los Angeles in search of a mega-pumpkin for a contest. He had previously won contests with pumpkins purchased at another Fallbrook farm that has since closed. After he stumbled upon Lavender Hill, he bought the largest pumpkin they had in the lot.

The Pierces seem to have a bumper crop of large pumpkins this year and told me that the large pumpkins don’t appeal to everyone, but many families with small children seem to be drawn to the larger varieties. “Parents with small children like to place their children in the large ones for photographs, Libby mentioned.

Just recently an assistant to one of the producers of the television show “Grey’s Anatomy” came by the farm and purchased pumpkins to be used in one of the shows. Mike was told that his pumpkins might become stars after the October 25 segment.

The couple has only been offering a pumpkin patch for two years but has been growing pumpkins for their own use for thirty years. They are organically grown and nourished with well water. The Pierces are proud of the fact that the pumpkins are grown on their own property.

“This is for people who really want to come to a pumpkin farm and see where the pumpkin grew; it’s like a Christmas tree farm in that respect,” said Libby. “Some people ask where the carnival is, but we don’t have anything but pumpkins.”

They offer twelve different varieties of pumpkins, which are sold by diameter. Just grab one of the measuring rings, which are made from old garden hoses, and if it fits you pay the price marked on the ring. Many of the pumpkins are so large that one person can’t lift them, but Mike solved that problem by rolling the pumpkins into a tarp and then enlisting the help of two or more people to lift the tarp.

It takes 110 days for the large pumpkins to grow and 90 days for the small varieties. Last year they planted some of them too early and the pumpkins rotted. This year a number of the pumpkins were damaged by the heat, but none of these setbacks deterred Mike, who said with a smile, “That’s farming.”

Mike and Libby name their pumpkins. “We think they each have their own personalities,” Libby commented. “Here we have Ivan the Terrible, and Ivan the Socially Awkward,” she said pointing to some very large but deformed-looking pumpkins.

“We also name them after our pets, our friends and our kids,” said Mike. Small wooden hand-lettered signs are positioned near the named pumpkins and Mike commented that people sometimes take the signs home to proudly post them with their unique pumpkins.

A one-ton stucco pumpkin greets guests when they drive into Lavender Hill. “I framed it with 15 ribs, then wired it and stuccoed it,” Mike explained. On Halloween this behemoth will be lit up as a jack-o-lantern, greeting guests from the field near Mission Road.

“I’m the biggest pumpkin fanatic around,” Mike confessed. “Last year we brought some of the perfect pumpkins in the house and used them as decorations…and they were all still perfect by April.”

However, by April, Libby said, “Enough of the pumpkins,” and Mike had to toss them out.

At the end of October, the unsold pumpkins are given to children who would not otherwise have a pumpkin for Halloween. “There’s something wonderful about a pumpkin of your own,” the couple agreed.

Lavender Hill Pumpkins

1509 East Mission Road

Fallbrook

(760) 728-9192

http://www.lavenderclose.org

October weekends

Saturday & Sunday

10 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

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