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Pumpkin Patch Postcard: Despite Pandemic, Hot Summer, They're Growing, Selling

A man loads pumpkins into the trunk of his car.
Nina Keck
Bob Herring and Christa Abildgaard, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, bought three full wagons of pumpkins to carve for Halloween. Herring was at Winslow Farms in Pittsford during a visit with family in Vermont.

Despite hot, dry growing conditions and a pandemic, Winslow Farms, a popular pick-your-own pumpkin patch in Pittsford, has been enjoying brisk business.

“The summer for us was very dry, very hot,” said owner Andrea Winslow on a recent afternoon. “The pumpkins were basically in survival mode. They’re very fickle about how they pollinate, when they set fruit; the temperatures need to be right. So, we do have a crop."

Winslow added: "And what grew looks very, very good, but it's much less in numbers than we usually yield.”  

Bob Herring and Christa Abildgaard, of Virginia Beach, Virginia stood back in masks as their grandkids wheeled several wagons full of pumpkins onto a digital scale the Winslows recently installed.

Winslow, with her green scarf pulled up over her face, laughed as she directed traffic and tallied up the family's purchase. She said they've been busy this fall.

A woman stands outside at her pumpkin patch.
Credit Nina Keck / VPR
Andrea Winslow and her husband have been selling pumpkins at their Pittsford farm since 1991. She says the hot dry summer has meant fewer pumpkins this year, but they've been very busy.

“We feel really fortunate that our businesses is a pick-your-own patch,” Winslow said. “We have five acres, and there's even open fields around the five acres, so, you know, collectively, we've got probably closer to 10 acres of area. And I think people are anxious to get outside and do things."

She added that most people come as family units, so they're not really interacting with other people, though they've been enjoying themselves and taking lots of family photos.

"Last night was a beautiful day... and just about 4:30 p.m., late in the day, we had a nice young couple come in, and they had gone through the whole patch, looking around. And as they came in, we offered to take their picture, which we quite often do. And they said, ‘Oh, we just got engaged! He just proposed out in the pumpkin patch!’'

She added with a grin: "So those were extra special pictures, that we tried to be more careful with."

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Nina Keck @NinaPKeck.

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